Mongolia is a large landmass with a low population of 2.8 million spread over 1.56 million kilometres. It is 19th largest in the world and is bordered by Russia and China. While traditionally nomadic, 69% of the population now lives in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar (UN, 2012), i and ongoing rural-to-urban migration is a recent (since 2000) demographic challenge for the country to manage. Mongolia began its transition from socialism to a parliamentary democracy in 1990 after the collapse of the USSR. Withdrawal of Soviet support and economic subsidies led to a period of severe hardship in the 1990s in Mongolia, including food shortages, high inflation, and a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) that reached a low of 1.95%. ii Recovery was slow but by the mid 2000s, the economy was improving and the birth rate increasing; life expectancy at birth is recorded at 69.11years, 75.01 years for women and 65.42 years for men and the TFR reached 3.0 in 2013.
The World Bank classifies Mongolia as a Lower Middle Income country, and the poverty rate averages about 1/3, with higher rates (approx. 40-45%) in rural areas and lower rates in urban areas. Although mining and other extraction industries have helped strengthen Mongolia’s economy, high unemployment remains a problem, particularly among rural and less-educated people, and income inequality is increasing. The government has shown its commitment to human rights and democracy by adding a ninth national Millennium Development Goal focusing on democratic governance and human rights.