Environment

Mongolia is a land-locked country which covers an area of 1,564,118 square kilometers in North East Asia. It has a 3485 km border with Russia in the north and a 4670 km border with the People's Republic of China in the east, south and west. The total area of Mongolia is larger than the combined areas of Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy. It is one of the largest land-locked countries and the world's seventh largest country. It is situated between 42-50oN latitude and 88-120oE longitude.

Mountains, Rivers & Lakes
The Mongolian environment has a large variety of features. The northern part of the country is covered by forest mountain ranges and the southern part by desert, desert steppe, and steppe areas with low mountains. The western part is dominated by high snow-capped mountains and glaciers and the eastern part by vast plains and wild heaths. About 81% of the country is higher than 1000 meters above sea level and the average elevation is 1580 meters. The highest mountain is Tavan Bogd in Bayan Ulgii Aimag at 4374 meters and the lowest point is Khukh Nuur in the east at 560 meters.

 Highest Peaks

Height / m

 Khuiten

4374

 Tsambagarav

4195

 Otgontenger

4021

 Okhbogd

3957

 Gurvansaikhan

2825

 Asralthairkhan

2800

 Bogd Khan

2256

Mongolia has comparatively high levels of surface and ground water resources. The rivers of Mongolia belong to the inland drainage basins of the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and Central Asia. The water network is of a greater density in the north of the country. The longest river is the Orkhon at 1124 kilometers in length. There are some 3000 rivers in total with a combined length of 67,000 kilometers. There are also over 3000 big and small lakes, 6,900 springs, 190 glaciers and 250 mineral water springs.

 Longest Rivers

Length / m

 Orkhon

1124

 Selenge

1024

 Kherlen

1090

 Zavkhan

808

 Tuul

704

 Khovd

593

 Eruu

323

 Onon

298

 Kharaa

291

 

 Largest Lakes

Area / km2

 Uvs

3350

 Khovsgol

2760

 Khar Us

1852

 Khyargas

1407

 Buir

615

 Khar

575

Landscape
Mongolia can be divided into six zones; desert, mountain, mountain taiga, mountain forest steppe, arid steppe and taiga. The mountain belt of the Mongol Altai, Khangai and Khentii mountainous regions, with their perpetual snow, glaciers, traces and signs of ancient ice covers, has been well preserved due to a constantly cold climate and strong winds. The area is inhabited by some endangered animals (such as the Argali sheep, Ibex, Snow Leopard, Rock Ptarmigan and Altai Snowcock) and plants (such as the Dwarf Siberian Pine and White Gentiana).

The mountain taiga belt comprises about 5% of the Mongolian territory in the Khentii and Khovsgol mountain regions in the northernmost part of the country and experiences a relatively cold and humid climate. Due to a brief warm period, the growing season is not long enough for many plant species. Forests in this belt are dominated by the Siberian Pine and the Siberian Larch and are inhabited by such animal species registered in the Mongolian Red Book as the Musk deer, Elk, Lynx and Eurasian Otter.

The mountain forest steppe belt extends through the Mongolian Altai, Khangai, Khovsgol massifs and borders on the Mongolian taiga belt which is in the southernmost fringe of the Great Eastern Siberian Taiga. One specific feature of the Mountain Forest Steppe is that the back of the slopes of the mountains facing the north, northeast and northwest are covered with different species of forest and woody plants whereas their front slopes facing the east, south and southwest are densely covered by the steppe plants almost up to the sharp ridges of the mountains, giving an impression of sharp habitat boundaries of the mountain forest and steppe species. The Mountain Forest Steppe belt encompasses 25% of Mongolia's territory and is inhabited by such globally endangered animal species as the Manul, Black Grouse and plants threatened by extinction such as the Mongolian Pheasant's Eye.

The Arid Steppe Zone with and area of approximately 20% of the country's territory comprises the entire Eastern and Central Mongolian vast flat plain extending as a tapering zone thousands of kilometers westwards to the northwestern fringe of the Khangai mountain range called Khankhokhii. The Mongolian steppe is part of the great plain which starts from the Don river in Hungary and includes the Pustza, sweeping the east up to the Manchurian steppe in East Asia. The vegetation of the Mongolian steppe is dominated by Xerophya, Caragana and many forms of feather grass. Mongolian gazelles can be seen roaming and grazing in herds.

The Desert Steppe Zone includes the Depression of Great Lakes, the Valley of Lakes and the Middle and Eastern Gobi lowlands. This area belongs to the semi-arid zone which has an annual precipitation of 100-220 millimeters, loose soil and fewer species of animals and plants compared to the zones, northwards. The Desert Steppe is a habitat for such animal species as the Wild Ass, Saiga Antelope, Black-tailed Gazelle and Houbara Bustard.

The Desert Zone is located in the southern and southwestern parts of Mongolia and has a severe climate with annual precipitation of less than 100 millimeters and high diurnal temperature fluctuation. The Desert Zone is an area of extremely unique physical formations of changing contrasts like hills, hillocks, rolling heaths, and sand dunes. It contains deposits of ancient flora, fauna and mineral resources, and provides a habitat for threatened animal species such as the Wild Camel, Gobi Bear and Mongolian Agama.

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  Information provided by the Ministry of Tourism. Government of Mongolia.

 

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