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History of Mongolia

Mongolian Historical Roots

The Xiongnu, assumed to be the ancestors of the Huns, were the first nomads of the steppes to leave their mark in Mongolia and founded an empire in 209 BC. The various nomadic peoples were then federated by the Xiongnu through which they amassed a formidable army. Ironically although they regularly fought with the Chinese it was through contact with Chinese products that the Xiongnu managed to extend their trade routes and build relationships with neighboring civilizations. In the fourth century, the various tribes became independent when the Xiongnu empire collapsed. This allowed one of them, led by a certain Attila, to venture into Europe to establish a new empire that span from the Urals to Germania.

Founding of Mongolia

Two centuries later, a new order settled in Mongolia with the emergence of turkic tribes. The Turks practiced nomadic pastoralism, developing agriculture, trade, and eventually establishing cities. Remains of the Uyghur civilization from the 8th century can be found in the Orkhon River valley. While their territory extended from China to the Mediterranean, the Turkic tribes, more precisely the Uyghurs, were overthrown by the Kyrgyz in 840. The clan struggled and continued up until the 13th century, where Mongol Empire began to form.

Temujin, the future Genghis Khan,tired of infighting among rival clans,disposed of various tribal chiefs and united the disparate nomadic groups. Thus the Mongol Empire was born in 1206. With a strong army despite its limited infantry, the Mongols won significant battles against the great powers of its time.

Genghis Khan provided protection, freedom of religion and trade to those who submitted without a fight. He introduced laws and incentives which would eventually propel the expansion of the Mongol Empire. At its height the empire encompassed an area that spanned from Korea to Hungary and from Russia to India.

The Mongolian Empire

After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, his descendants continued the policy of expansion for thirty years. Ironically,power politics gave way to infighting among his obscenely opulent progeny, which led to the division of the Mongol Empire in 1260. A century later, as the Ming dynasty rose to power and pushed the Yuan to flee Beijing, the Mongols retreated back north to the steppes.

In a bid to reconquer China in the 15th century the Mongolians allied themselves with the Manchus, the founders of the Qing dynasty. However, they found themselves betrayed and ultimately subjugated by the Manchu. It wasn’t until 1911 when the Chinese revolution overthrew the Qing imperial rule that the Mongols were able to form an independent state.
While China claimed a part of Mongolian territory, an agreement was signed in 1915 between the Chinese, Russians and Mongolians. The treaty gave autonomy to Outer Mongolia (current Mongolia) while Inner Mongolia remained under Chinese rule.

Faced with a not-quite-communist China as well as White Russians, Mongolian nationalists looked to the Bolsheviks for support. In 1921, the White Russians were driven out and the people’s republic of Mongolia was established. The Mongolian Communist regime kept its independence until the advent of Stalin at the end of the 1920s, which marked the beginning of the purges in Mongolia. The Kremlin then, controlled Mongolia through an officer on their payroll: Khorlogyn Tchoibalsan. Tchoibalsan enacted policies of destruction of small enterprises similar to that of Stalin’s in Russia. In the 1930s, rampant purges targeting existing Buddhist culture swept the country resulting in the deaths of more than 27000 people including 17000 lamas (monks) and the destruction of hundreds of monasteries. The following years saw growing soviet influence in all areas: language, cuisine, arts and fashion.

Mongolia After Socialism

With the fall of the USSR in 1990,Mongolia became a democracy.Soon after, following pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital city, the government held its first multi-party elections. However this newfound independence came at a severe cost. With the support from Russia gone, Mongolia went through one of its harshest economic downturns in its recent history, store counters were empty overnight, ration books became the norm. Today the situation isn’t as dire, the neoliberal model has graciously smiled upon the people of this burgeoning ‘democracy’.

Chronology

  • Stone Age – 700 000-12 000
  • Bronze Age – 3000-5000 (13th To 11th Century B.C.)
  • Iron Age – 5th Century B.C.

The Steppes Empires

  • Khunuu Guren: Year 198 B.C.
  • Syanbii: Years 197-130 B.C.
  • Juan-Juan: 2nd Century A.D.
  • Turk: Turuu Khaant: Years 552 To 630 A.D.
  • Khojuu Khaant: 8th Century A.D.
  • Ouiguur: Year 745 To 840 A.D.
  • Kidan: Years 917 To 1025 A.D.
  • Great Mongol Empire: 13th And 14th Centuries
  • 15th Century: Oirat Empire
  • 17th Century: 2nd Oirat Empire

End Of Mandchou Domination:

  • December 1911: Bogd Khaan’s Mongolia
  • 921: Revolution And Republic Of The People Of Mongolia
  • 1939 – Khalkhiin Gol War

End Of Soviet Domination

  • 1990: Democratic Revolution

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