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MONGOLIA

Mongolia Today

Socialist and Democratic Mongolia

On 11 July 1921, the socialist revolution, known as People's Revolution took place. In 1924, the Mongolian People's Party proclaimed Mongolia a People's Republic's first constitution. As Mongolia maintained strong links with the former Soviet Union, the socialist era continued until 1990, when democratic changes first started in Mongolia .

The country's first multi-party election was held in June 1990. The new parliament adopted Mongolia 's first democratic constitution in January 1992. This constitution defined Mongolia as a democratic parliamentary republic operating with a President. Both parliament and president have to be directly elected by the general public. Throughout these political changes, Mongolia has slowly been paving its way towards a free market economy and away from the old economic system.

Religion

Mongolia 's religious roots are bound up in Shamanism. However this religious phenomena doesn't match the conventional description of a religion in the same way as Buddhism or Christianity. Shamanism has no founder from whom its teachings originate. There is no collection of sacred sutras or a bible, as it doesn't possess any monastic communities to preach or distribute its doctrines. The origins of Shamanism are still unclear, but historians are certain it emerged at the same time as the first human artistic concepts of fetishism, totemism and animism to name just a few.

Shamanism was the major or religion during both the ancient Mongol states and the Mongol Empire until Tibetan Buddhism (also called Vajrayana Buddhism) gained more popularity after it was introduced in 13 th century. Tibetan Buddhism shared the common Buddhism goals of individual release from suffering and reincarnation. Tibet 's Dalai Lama, who lives in India , is the religion's spiritual leader, and is highly respected in Mongolia .

Shamanism has continued to be practiced by a few of the ethnic groups living in northern and western Mongolia , including the Tsaatan, who are more commonly known as the reindeer people. Mongolians practice ritualistic magic, nature worship, exorcism, meditation, and natural healing as part of their shamanistic heritage.

Buddhism was introduced to Mongolia from Tibet by Kublai Khan during the late 13 th century. Kublai Khan invited an eminent Tibetan lama, Ragba, to be empire's religious representative. From the late 14 th century onwards hundreds of Buddhist temples were rapidly built across Mongolia . Thousands of Mongolian males vowed to live as lamas-at one point almost one seventh of the male population had taken robes. Until the beginning of the twentieth century Buddhism developed and spread across the country, playing an important role on both religions and intellectual spheres of life.

The 1921 People's Revolution swiftly installed a socialist regime, which officially prohibited any religious practice. During the 1930's political purges under resulted in the destruction of more than 700 temples and the death of around 10,000 lamas. It wasn't until the early 1990's that, as part of the rise of democracy, Buddhism was revived as Mongolia 's major religion.

Mongolia 's largest monastery-Gandan - is in Ulaanbaatar . In October 1996, Gandan hosted a massive opening ceremony for its newly installed 25 meter high, 60 ton Megjid Janraisag statue, which is the symbol of the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia . The statue's name translates as "the all seeing Lord".

Meanwhile Mongolia 's Kazaks are Muslims. Islam is mainly practiced in Bayan Olgii, the most westerly province in Mongolia .

Since the mid nineties large number of Christians, Bahais and Mormons have arrived in Mongolia seeking to convert Mongolians from Buddhist to their various faiths. There has recently been concern about missionaries working mainly as English teachers and seeking to convert in and outside of classrooms.

Administration

Under the new constitution, the state structure of Mongolia consist of the State Great Hural (Parliament) as the highest organization of state power and the legislative body, the President as Head of the State and the Government, comprised of the Prime Minister and cabinet members, as the executive body.

Mongolia is administratively divided into 21 aimags (provinces), as well as the capital city district of Ulaanbaatar. The provinces are further divided into 348 soums and districts in urban areas, and each of these is divided in turn into bag and micro districts in urban areas both comprising between 50 and 350 families.

Economy

Mongolia has abundant pasture land and the potential for mineral and hydrocarbon exploitation. About 80% of Mongolia is suitable for extensive animal husbandry, and traditional herds include cattle, horses, camels, goats and sheep. Intensive crop cultivation is limited by the short growing season and sharp daily fluctuations in temperature.

The country is rich in mineral resources including coal, iron, tin, copper, gold, silver, tungsten, zinc, fluor, spar and molybdenum, as well as semiprecious stones. Thermal power, produced from indigenous coal and imported diesel oil, and traditional sources of fuel are supplemented by electricity imports from the Soviet grid. About 20% of the population, mainly in the rural areas, remain without electricity.

In 1990, the Government of Mongolia decided to abandon central planning with the intention to move to a marked-led system. The new economic structure was to be achieved through privatization of state assets, tight monetary and fiscal policy and liberalization of prices and tariffs. With the establishment of the Mongolian Stock Exchange in 1991, the process of privatization and the establishment of a secondary stock market started. Almost 100% of training, catering and service entities and animal husbandry has been privatized. Housing privatization started in 1997, but land has not yet been privatized and is the subject of intense debates for both politicians and professionals.

 


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