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Mongolia 2022



Two sisters with their juvenile golden eagle have come with their parents to the annual Golden Eagle Festival held outside the town of Olgii in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. Both the girls and the eagle were too young to participate in the festival, but later in the day the girls’ father and his adult eagle won one of the contests.

The girls are wearing traditional fur hats and coats made of leather or embroidered with traditional Khazah designs. The leather hood that covers the eagle’s eyes has a calming effect.

John Donelson © 2019
PCV Ghana 1965–1966
Secondary School Math & Science Teacher

Northern Asia

Area 618K mi2; 1.6M km2

Arable 0.4%

Population 3.2M (5/mi²; 2/km²)

Gov’t Semi-presidential republic

Capital UlaanBaatar (1.6M)

GCP/Capita $12,317 (2019)

Unemployment 8%

In Poverty 29.6%

Infant Mortality 21/1K live births (80th)

Life expectancy 71 yrs

Children Aged <15 Yrs 27% of pop

Median Age 30 yrs

Literacy 98%

Languages Mongolian (Khalkha dialect is predominant), Turkic, Russian

Religions Buddhist 53%, Muslim 3%, Shamanist 3%, Christian 2%, other < 1%, none 39%

Health 4% of GDP

Education 4% of GDP (94th)

Military 0.7% of GDP (138th)

Labor Force Agriculture 31%, industry 18%, services 5%

PCVs 1991-present/2020 CURRENT: 0; TTD: 1,437

Adult Books

Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family
By Norma and Dorothy Kehmeier

Genre: Nonfiction, photographic essay
Publisher: Saltwind Press (2014)
Language: English; captions also in Mongolian; additional text in Russian
ISBN-10: 0989018709
ISBN-13: 978-0989018708


This stunning book documents a way of life that is under tremendous pressure to change, blending ancient practices surviving since the time of Genghis Khan with elements of the modern world. Carter's experience living with a single family over the course of a year reveals the unique culture of Mongolian nomads and their capacity to thrive in one of the world's harshest environments. The family's willingness to share the ancient yearly cycle of their life on the steppe enables the author-photographer to create an unusually intimate portrait.

“I thought I already knew a good deal about [Mongolia], but this book taught me so much more. It gave the distant nation and little-known culture a face and heart. […] It was an effortless read; uplifting even when through tears. If your library has no other book on Mongolia, this should be this one.” (Randall K. Barry, acquisitions librarian for Mongolian materials, Library of Congress, Washington, DC)

"This beautifully illustrated and well-researched story is a tribute to the life of a typical Mongolian herding family. We are given a glimpse into just how close many people live to the edge of survival. Their environment is becoming harsher with the impacts of climate change—raising the question of much longer they can remain nomadic herders. This book is timely and important. " (Clyde E. Goulden, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Mongolian Biodiversity and Ecological Studies, Academy of Natural Sciences)

Kids' Books

The Eagle Huntress: The True Story of the Girl Who Soared Beyond Expectations
By Aisholpan Nurgaiv, with Liz Welch

Format: photos
ISBN: 978-0-316-52262-5
Age Range: 8–12 years
Publisher: New York: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021

A memoir written by Aisholpan Nurgaiv telling of her experience winning the Olgii eagle festival. She was the only girl to compete. Aisholpan captured and trained her own golden eagle with the help of her father.




Film: The Two Horses of Genghis Khan (Das Lied von den zwei Pferden)
Genre: Documentary
Director: Ambasuren Davaa
Date of Release: 3 June 2010 (Germany)
Language: Mongolian
Run Time: 90 minutes
Color: Color

A promise, an old, destroyed horse-head violin and a song believed lost lead the singer Urna back to Outer Mongolia. Her grandmother was forced to destroy her once loved violin in the tumult of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The ancient song of the Mongols, “The Two Horses of Genghis Khan,” was engraved on the violin's neck. Only the violin's neck and head survived the cultural storm. Now it is time to fulfill the promise that Urna made to her grandmother. Arrived in Ulan Baator, Urna brings the still intact parts of the violin—the head and neck—to Hicheengui, a renowned maker of horse-head violins, who will build a new body for the old instrument. Urna leaves for the interior to look there for the song's missing verses. But she will be disappointed. None of the people whom she meets on the way seem to know the old melody of the Mongols.


The HU

The HU is a Mongolian folk rock band band formed in 2016. With traditional Mongolian instrumentation, including the Morin khuur, Tovshuur, and Mongolian throat singing, the band calls their style of music “hunnu rock,” hu inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Turkic/Mongol empire, known as Xiongnu in western culture. Some of the band's lyrics include old Mongolian war cries and poetry.

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