In southwestern Mongolia, there are
archaeological remains of human settlement that are
considered to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old.
Around 1000 BC, the people in the area that is today
Mongolia could work bronze. Around 300 BC, the iron
weapons began to be used, while various clans formed
alliances. Chinese sources speak of an invasion from the
Mongolian territory at this time by a clan association
called xiongnu. Some researchers have, on uncertain
grounds, wanted to identify this as the people in
European history known as the Huns.
The clans on the vast Mongolian plains were small for
a long time and felt little affinity with each other.
However, in the beginning of the 13th century AD, a
number of Mongolian clans and some non-Mongolian groups
were united in a firmly organized state formation under
the leader Temüdjin. He was proclaimed ruler in 1206
under the name of Genghis Khan. Khan means chief.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Mongolia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Djingi's khan and his descendants undertook huge
conquest trains and succeeded, not least thanks to new
combat techniques, in capturing large parts of the
Eurasian land mass. They reached the west to Austria,
further south to the Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean,
and east to Korea. But no united kingdom ever arose.
At the death of Djingi's khan in 1227, the kingdom
was divided between his sons. Genghis Khan's grandson
Khubilai khan (great man 1260–1294) conquered all of
China and founded the Chinese dynasty Yuan. He moved his
capital from Karakorum to current Beijing. Khubilai
Khan's brother Batu invaded Russia in 1240 and founded
the "Golden Horde Empire". It lasted for 240 years,
until 1480, and contributed to the emergence of a
Mongolian writing language and a more uniform Mongolian
The Mongols were too few to hold their giant kingdom
together in the long run. It gradually collapsed and the
Mongols retreated to their core land. At the end of the
17th century, Mongolia was conquered by the Chinese
Empire, which was ruled by the Manchus. Even then, Outer
and Inner Mongolia (see Geography) came to be
administered as separate provinces.
Encouraged by the fall of the Manchud dynasty in
China and with some support from Tsar Russia and Japan,
Outer Mongolia in 1911 proclaimed an independent
monarchy under the Living Buddha (Bogd Chaan), the title
of the head of the Buddhist Mongols. Inner Mongolia was
also invited to join, which led to conflict with China.
Russian, Chinese and Mongolian representatives agreed at
a meeting in 1915 that the outer Mongolia would continue
to be an autonomous province within China. In reality,
however, Outer Mongolia was a Russian protectorate.
When Russia weakened during the 1917 revolution and
the Soviet Union was formed, China seized control of
Mongolia. A Chinese general marched into the country and
the Mongols in 1920 gave up all power to the Chinese.
An underground revolutionary Mongolian movement had
been formed in 1917, inspired by the Russian Revolution
and led by Damdiny Süchbaatar. The movement was merged
with others into the Mongolian People's Party
(MPP), which negotiated Soviet support for
independence from the Chinese. In exchange, Russia
demanded a Soviet-friendly government in Mongolia.
The Mongolian People's Party held a conference in
Soviet territory in 1921 where it formed a revolutionary
government in opposition to the government in Urga,
which was then called the capital of Mongolia. This
provisional government set up a partisan force which,
together with major Soviet forces in July 1921,
conquered Urga and proclaimed a new government under
King Bogdo Gegen. The king, however, lacked power.
In 1924, the Mongolian People's Party changed its
name to the Mongolian People's Revolutionary
Party (MPRP). That same year, however, Bogdo
Gegen. Despite China's protests, but with the support of
the Soviet Union, the Mongolian People's Republic was
now proclaimed. A Soviet model constitution was adopted
which gave the Communist Party power monopoly. Mongolia
became the second socialist state in the world and for
60 years came to function in many respects as a Soviet
The new regime immediately began to transform the
country according to Soviet designs. All opposition to
the Communist Party was suppressed while companies and
other assets were nationalized. Financial planning was
carried out at central level and the development would
follow government directives in so-called five-year
plans. The power of the nobility and the Buddhist
priests was broken by hard methods, including mass
executions and devastation of the monasteries (see
Religion). When the regime in the early 1930s tried to
force the cattle owners into a jointly owned collective,
it led to popular uprisings, which were defeated with
the help of the Soviet military. Purges followed and
power was concentrated in 1939 to Marshal Chorloogijn
Tjojbalsan, often referred to as Mongolia's Stalin. The
forced collectivization of livestock management was
halted, but was later carried out step by step through
In 1939, a Japanese invasion of Manchuria was fought
back by Mongolian and Soviet troops. Following the
Japanese defeat, a ceasefire was announced in August
1945, when Mongolia declared war on Japan. Mongol forces
advanced all the way to the Chinese Pacific coast but
were subsequently withdrawn.