Palaeolithic cave drawings are the first sign of mankind in the country we now know as Mongolia.
Inhabited by nomadic tribes until the 3rd Century BC the Xiongnu Empire was founded and eventually covered an area from the Great Wall to Lake Baikal in the north. In the 1st Century AD the Xianbei took over from a weakened Xiongnu Empire and this in turn was followed by a succession of empires including the Rouran, Altai Turks, Uyghurs, Kyrgyz and Khitans.
In the 12th Century Mongol tribes united around the Khamag Mongol Confederacy and from these emerged the most famous Mongol leader, Genghis Khan. Born around 1162 he came to power in 1206 and dominated much of northeast Asia and Eurasia.
Genghis Khan’s descendants continued to spread the empire after his death which eventually spread across to the edges of Europe, all Eurasia and much of Southeast Asia. By the late 1200s the Mongol empire was fragmenting and in 1271 the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan became the new force.
By the 1300s it was the turn of the Ming Dynasty to impinge on Mongolia and they forced the Yuan Dynasty back into Outer Mongolia. The subsequent period of turmoil up to the 17th Century was known as the North Yuan Dynasty.
By the end of the 17th Century the Mongols were being attacked from the north and south and the area was eventually seized by the Qing Dynasty. Inevitably the Qing Dynasty collapsed and in 1911 Outer Mongolia became independent. Bogd Gegeen became the Great Khaan (Bogd Khaan) and a parliamentary structure was established with an Upper Hural and Lower Hural.
Mongolia was, nevertheless, still influenced and in large part controlled by China and Russia. With the Russian revolution of 1917 first China regained claim to Outer Mongolia and then Russian White Guard troops invaded.
By 1921 Bogd Khaan’s government was restored and the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) was founded. With support from Soviet troops the MPP took over the government but kept Bogd Khaan as a nominal head of state.
The MPP, subsequently renamed the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) was to rule continuously from 1921 until 1998.
After Bogd Khaan’s death the Mongolian People’s Republic was proclaimed on 26th November 1924 and the communist era was ushered in. Largely controlled by Soviet Russia, Mongolia suffered at the hands of Stalin’s regime, with more than 30,000 people losing their lives as Stalin ordered all Buddhist Institutions to be destroyed in 1936.
World War Two saw Mongolia at the centre of various battles, at first with the Japanese and then at the end of the war as Chinese forces tried to re-impose control. It was only with the Sino Soviet Treaty of 1945 that Outer Mongolia was re-established as a state but Inner Mongolia was lost to China.
By 1989 the Soviet Union was crumbling and its satellite state saw the first democracy movement in 1989 with the formation of the Mongolian Democratic Union.
March 1990 saw the old MPRP leaders frozen out of office and the legalisation of political parties, the institution of a new President and the creation of the 50 member Little State Hural.
In 1992 a unicameral Mongolian Great Hural with 76 seats was established and the MPRP won the first election, taking 71 of the 76 seats. With the exception of the 1996 general election the MPRP has retained its dominance. In 2004 the MPRP and other parties went on to form a ‘grand coalition government’. In recent years the MPRP has changed its political complexion from communism to democratic socialism to social democracy. In 2010 the party changed its name back to the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP).
The President is elected by popular vote for a four year term and may serve a second term.
The unicameral State Great Hural has 76 members elected by popular vote to serve four year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Mongolia at joint 87th out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 38 (where 100 is least corrupt).