Preface Last Updated: 10/3/2004 11:33 PM
The name “Mongolia” stirs up visions of the untamed and exotic —
the warlord Chinggis Khaan, camels wandering in the Gobi Desert and
wild horses galloping across the steppe. Today, Mongolia still seems
like the end of the earth — outside the capital city you feel as if
you have stepped into another century. For the first time in
hundreds of years, the Mongolians, once rulers of the vast Eurasian
steppe, are no longer colonial subjects of the Russian and Chinese
Empires. Today, Mongolia is free, democratic and quickly
rediscovering its varied past. Mongolia, the “Land of the Blue Sky,”
is a wide vast country of mountains, beautiful lakes, huge deserts,
rolling grasslands, and unique wildlife.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/19/2005 3:14 AM
Mongolia is a large and sparsely populated country landlocked
between China and Russia. It has an area of just over 600,000 square
miles — about the size of Alaska. Mongolia is the 6th largest
country in Asia and 18th largest in the world. The capital,
Ulaanbaatar, is over 4,000 feet above sea level. Because of the
elevation and distance from any ocean or sea, Mongolia has a harsh
continental climate. Marked seasonal, even daily, changes in
temperature, numerous high-pressure systems, and severe cold occur
most of the year. A remarkably sunny country, Mongolia enjoys 250
sunny days a year, often with clear cloudless skies, making even the
coldest temperatures more tolerable.
The country is divided into three basic zones: the Gobi, a vast,
dry grassland in the east and south; the low Hangai mountains in the
north and northwest; and the high Altai Mountains of the west and
northwest. Mongolia’s most scenic lake is Lake Hovsgol located in
the Altai, where elevations range up to 15,000 feet. There are three
major river systems: the Tuul, which runs through Ulaanbaatar; the
Orhon, which combines with the Tuul and flows into Lake Baikal in
Russia; and the Selenge in the northeast.
Population Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:52 AM
Approximately one third of Mongolia’s roughly 2.7 million people
live in Ulaanbaatar — many in ger (yurt) suburbs that surround the
capital. Mongolia has one of the lowest population densities in the
world, with 1.5 inhabitants per 1 square kilometer. There are two
other sizable cities: Erdenet and Darkhan. Both cities are north of
Ulaanbaatar and are served by the rail line that stretches from
Beijing through Mongolia to the TransSiberian railroad to Moscow and
One half of the population is under 30 years of age. The literacy
rate is 93%, but many Mongolians are unemployed.
About 80% of Mongolians living in Mongolia belong to the Khalka
Mongol ethnic group. The other major ethnic group, the Khazaks, make
up about 6% of the population and live mostly in Western Mongolia.
There are several smaller ethnic groups scattered throughout the
country. About 3 million other Mongols, primarily of the Chahar
ethnic group, reside in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of
China. Buryiat Mongols live in northern Mongolia and in the Buryiat
Autonomous Region of Russia, east of Lake Baikal.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 10/3/2004 11:40 PM
The primary legislative body is the State Great Hural. A
unicameral body, it has 76 members elected by secret ballot of the
citizens for four-year terms. The Hural enacts, amends, and
supervises the implementation of laws; determines fiscal policies;
sets dates for elections; appoints the Prime Minister and other
officials; and engages in other activities. The President, subject
to direct election for a maximum of two four-year terms, is the head
of state. The President has veto power over legislation; can
propose, in consultation with the majority party or parties, names
for Prime Minister; can propose dissolution of the government, or
instruct the government and issue decrees, which are subject to the
Prime Minister's approval; may propose legislation; serves as
commander-in-chief and heads the National Security Council.
Independent judges are nominated by a general council and
confirmed by the President and, in the case of Supreme Court judges,
the State Great Hural. The 11 member Supreme Court has the power to
act as court of first instance for certain criminal and other
actions, examine lower court decisions by appeal, examine questions
transferred to it by the Constitutional court or Prosecutor General,
provide official interpretations of all laws (except the
Constitution) and make judgments on other matters assigned by law.
Trials are open and accused have the right to counsel.
The Constitutional Court’s members are appointed by the State
Great Hural for six-year terms. The nine members are nominated by
the Hural (3), the President (3), and the Supreme Court (3). The
Court interprets the Constitution, acting upon the request of the
President, Prime Minister, Hural, Supreme Court, Prosecutor General,
or on its own motion. In addition to reviewing the conformity of
treaties and legislative acts with the Constitution, the Court may
invalidate any that are not in conformity with the Constitution. It
may also examine breaches of law by the President, Prime Minister,
or other minister, the Prosecutor General, and members of the State
Great Hural or Supreme Court.
Mongolia has 21 aimags (provinces), including three autonomous
cities (Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan, and Erdenet). Each aimag has a local
legislative hural with a four-year term. Each aimag enjoys some
rights of self-government. Governors of aimags are appointed by the
Prime Minister and, in turn, appoint governors of the “soums”
(subunits of the aimags, roughly equivalent to counties in the
U.S.), and nine districts of Ulaanbaatar.
In the first half of 1990 Mongolian citizens held mass
demonstrations in the capital demanding an end to 70 years of
Communist rule. The government acquiesced, and the first free
elections were held in July 1990. Although the communist Mongolian
Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (MPRP) won the majority of seats in the
national legislature, the reform movement gathered strength. The
opposition and the MPRP worked together to form a coalition
government, which undertook political and economic reforms,
culminating in the new constitution. To symbolize these reforms the
star at the top of the Mongolian flag was removed and the state seal
was changed to a modernist flying horse design in February 1992.
Mongolia now claims many political parties, including the
Democratic Party, the Civic Will Party; the Republican Party, the
New Democratic Socialist Party, as well as the MPRP.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/19/2005 3:18 AM
Mongolia has one public university and seven other institutes of
higher learning, plus a growing number of private universities. Many
Mongolian students study at universities and technical schools
abroad, including in the United States. Mongolians place a high
value on education, and the literacy rate, and basic education rate
are remarkably high for a developing country. An interesting recent
trend is the predominance of women in higher education. By some
estimates 70% of Mongolia's undergraduate students are women, a
trend that is driven in part by herding families requiring young
boys to stay out of school to help with the animals.
Mongolia’s history reaches back thousands of years. Over the
centuries, Mongolians have developed a unique and fascinating
culture full of ancient traditions, customs and beliefs. Tibetan
Buddhism and nomadism dominate Mongolia’s painting, music and
literature. Traditional music involves a wide range of instruments
and singing styles. In Mongolian khoomi, or throatsinging, carefully
trained male voices produce harmonic overtones from deep in the
throat, releasing several notes at once. Another unique traditional
singing style is called urtyn-duu or long songs. It involves very
complicated, drawn-out vocal sounds which relate traditional stories
about love and the countryside. The morin khuur, a horse-head carved
fiddle with two strings made from horsehair, often accompanies these
songs. Tsam dances are performed to exorcise evil spirits and sprang
from Buddhism and Shamanism. Outlawed during communism, they are
being performed again.
Classical music, opera and drama thrive in Mongolia. In
Ulaanbaatar, the state theater regularly performs local and foreign
operas and ballets. Just this year, Mongolia hosted several
international art festivals, many of them focusing on the
innovative, modern arts culture of this country.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/19/2005 3:19 AM
The rapid political changes of 1990–91 marked the beginning of
Mongolia’s efforts to develop a market economy, but the dissolution
and continuing deterioration of the former Soviet Union complicated
and disrupted the effort. After the collapse of the centrally
planned-system, Mongolia opened its doors to international investors
Mongolia’s own industries include cashmere, skins, and leather
production; furs and animal hair products; coal; copper, gold, and
Natural resources include copper, coal, molybdenum, iron,
phosphates, tin, nickel, zinc, wolfram, fluorspar, gold, uranium and
petroleum. Joint ventures with Western companies in oil exploration,
cashmere production, and gold mining are now in operation.
The growing season in Mongolia is extremely short, but wheat,
oats, barley, fodder, and some vegetables are grown. The principle
industry is raising livestock, in which about 45 percent of the
population is engaged.
Mongolia's land-locked location and lack of basic infrastructure
constrains prospects for development outside the traditional
reliance on nomadic, livestock-based agriculture. One railroad line
traverses the country using Russian-gauge track, which necessitates
a change of wheels at the Chinese border. This rail route allows for
shipments to Tianjin, China, in one direction and to Moscow or
Vladivostock in the other. Both Russian and Chinese rail lines are
subject to lengthy delays in shipment.
International air routes are via Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, Berlin,
Seoul, and (during the summer season only) Osaka. Space and high
shipment costs limit the amount of freight forwarded by air.
Mongolia hopes for accelerated growth by attracting more foreign
investment. Mongolia is actively seeking trading partners in the
west. It receives a large amount of aid from donor countries and
international organizations, including Japan, the Asia Development
Bank, World Bank, IMF, and the United States. Privatization of
publicly held companies and the establishment of private businesses
led to positive economic growth rates in the latter half of the
Automobiles Last Updated: 9/19/2005 1:38 AM
Most employees bring personal vehicles to post. Because of the
road and weather conditions, a four-wheel drive vehicle with good
groung clearance is very useful. The Embassy provides one parking
space per family in a heated garage in its housing complex. You
should contact the GSO prior to shipping a vehicle. Unleaded and
leaded gas as well as diesel fuel are now widely available in the
city and countryside. Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Mercedes
have dealerships with repair facilities in Ulaanbaatar. Some parts
maybe hard to find or are not regularly stocked.
Americans must obtain a Mongolian driver’s license. In order to
drive an official vehicle each driver must have a valid driver's
license and proof of third party liability insurance. Third party
liability insurance may be purchased locally for $150/year, it is
not comprehensive. To obtain a Mongolian driver licence you must
have a valid U.S. driver’s license. Local liability insurance costs
$150 per person annually and is not comprehensive. You’ll want to
have additional insurance through a U.S. insurance company. The
administrative section will assist you in obtaining a local driver's
licence and insurance.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 9/19/2005 1:42 AM
Buses and taxis serve Ulaanbaatar and its environs.UB has many
taxis that can be flagged down on the streets. There are several
radio dispatched taxi companies that will send taxis to your
location. They charge approximately 1000 Tugriks for a five-minute
trip (about $1). Prices for buses are low but they are generally
jampacked; pickpockets are a problem. Embassy personnel rarely use
Car rental is possible in UB. All come with drivers, some of whom
may speak a little English. The condition and reliability of rental
vehicles is highly variable.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 9/20/2004 0:31 AM
Trains run to the north and south from Ulaanbaatar and airplanes
service most provincial cities. Roads in Mongolia are few and
challenging. One paved highway goes north from Ulaanbaatar to the
Russian border. Most other roads in Mongolia are tracks across the
country. Some of the tracks are smoother than the paved road but
most are bone jarring. Roads can occasionally be impossible during
the “rainy” season and in winter due to snow.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/20/2004 0:44 AM
Telephone service in Ulaanbaatar is good. International Direct
Dialing is available in each employee’s home. The country code for
Mongolia is 976 and the city code for Ulaanbaatar is 11.
Through the International Voice Gateway (IVG) Program, the
Embassy has an IVG telephone trunk directly connecting the office
with the State Department Telephone Switch at Beltsville, Maryland.
This IVG connection was installed as both a cost-saving and morale
boosting program. Calls to the greater Washington area
(703/202/301/410) are “free.” All 1–800 numbers are also free of
charge to Embassy personnel. When placing personal calls, a
commercial telephone calling card can be used for numbers outside
the D.C. area. These personal calls will be billed to the employee
as if the call originated from Beltsville, Maryland.
Wireless Service Last Updated: 10/3/2004 11:48 PM Mobile phones
are common in Ulaanbaatar and other cities. They do not provide
services in the countryside, but once in the larger cities, you can
use them to call throughout the country. Satellite phones which can
be used anywhere in Mongolia can be rented in Ulaanbaatar.
Internet Last Updated: 10/3/2004 11:50 PM
There are three providers of dial-up Internet service in
Mongolia, with reasonable pricing. Internet access for Foreign
Service employees is allowed through the embassy at no charge. There
is no broadband Internet service in Mongolia.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/19/2005 1:29 AM
For US Government employees, FPO service is available via Hong
Kong and Beijing. Mail is forwarded from Beijing by air once a week.
FPO flat mail usually takes between three and five weeks to
arrive from the U.S. Parcels sometimes take longer. Address personal
letters and packages to:
(Name) American Embassy Ulaanbaatar PSC 461, Box 300 FPO AP
The pouch address is only for official mail:
(Name) Section Department of State 4410 Ulaanbaatar Place
Washington, DC 20521–4410
International Mail address:
U.S. Embassy in Mongolia P.O. Box 1021 Ulaanbaatar–13 MONGOLIA
Mail service within the country is slow. International mail
service between the U.S. and Mongolia is also slow and unreliable.
It takes approximately ten days for a letter to reach the U.S. You
should bring a supply of US stamps for letters and outgoing boxes,
as stamps are not for sale at the Embassy.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 10/3/2004 11:52 PM
Mongolian television programming is SECAM, so be sure to bring a
multi-system television. Multisystem TVs and VCRs are widely
available in Mongolia and are competitively priced.
VOA and BBC broadcast in English 24 hours a day on FM channel
106.6 and 103.1. BBC and several other English-language television
broadcasts are available via commercial cable TV services and by
satellite dish. Star Cable Network is available in the employee’s
housing and contains a movie channel, a U.S. program channel, sports
channel and others. AFN (Armed Forces Network), U.S. programming
without commercials, is also available. The Embassy provides one TV
and VCR per home.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
10/3/2004 11:52 PM
Two English-language newspapers, the Mongol Messenger and the UB
Post, are published weekly. They contain information on local news
and cultural events. There are a few international English-language
periodicals, such as the Economist available locally. However they
are very expensive and arrive irregularly. Plan to subscribe to any
other publications you wish to receive.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/19/2005 1:52 AM
In 2006 the Embassy opened its own Health Unit staffed by a local
hire US nurse. The position is expected to be filled by a FSHP in
2007. Additionally official members of the American embassy
community are allowed to use services at the SOS Clinic. The
Regional Medical Officer from Beijing makes periodic visits to
Personnel are expected to bring their own prescription
medication; prescriptions can be obtained from the RMO/Beijing and
sent to your pharmacy in the U.S. or elsewhere to be filled. You are
also expected to have your own stock of common over-the-counter
remedies such as Tylenol, cold and allergy medications, basic first
aid supplies, etc. The Health Unit can provide you with some
Local medical facilities can be used for a fee, but for the most
part do not meet American standards. For serious illnesses or
medical problems the RMO authorizes medical evacuation Singapore, to
Beijing, Hong Kong, or Seoul.
Community Health Last Updated: 9/19/2005 1:58 AM
Because of the climate, Mongolia doesn’t have many of the health
problems found in other developing countries. For example, malaria
doesn’t exist in Mongolia. However, one must follow food and water
precautions to avoid diarrhea and a variety of other diseases. (See
the following section.). Mongolia also has a high incidence of
Tuberculosis and brucellosis . In 1995, Mongolia had 125
tuberculosis infections per 100,000 people — the fifth highest in
the world. While Mongolia has limited poultry farming the H5N1 virus
responsible for avian flu has been found in the wild bird population
in the northern part of the country.
In warm months, flies and mosquitoes are a nuisance and can
spread disease. Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and
socks in the countryside during the summer is recommended. You
should be careful around marmots (a type of large rodent) when you
travel to the countryside, as their fleas carry the bubonic plague.
Air pollution in the capital city during the winter is a serious
respiratory problem. Automobile pollution, coal burning power plants
and ger-residences burning coal and wood for heat produce smog that
is trapped in the city's valley during the winter.
Uneven sidewalks, ice, open manholes, chaotic traffic and
dangerous drivers provide serious obstacles for pedestrians.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:00 AM
You are advised to get all necessary vaccinations before arriving
at post. The Health Unit and SOS Clinic does stock some
immunizations, but they are difficult to ship and the supply is
limited. Recommended immunizations include the rabies series, the
hepatitis A series, the hepatitis B series, typhoid, tetanus,
meningitis A and C, and the B encephalitis series. Children’s
immunizations should be up to date before arriving at post, but can
be administered and updated here.
Drinking water should be boiled for 10 minutes and filtering is
recommended. Embassy apartments have water distillers. Vegetables
that will be eaten raw (uncooked and unpeeled) should be soaked for
20 minutes in a bleach or iodine and water solution (approximately 8
drops of bleach or iodine per liter of water). Avoid eating uncooked
or unpeeled vegetables in restaurants.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/19/2005
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Mongolia. Jobs
paying at U.S. rates are more difficult to find. In the past spouses
have worked for private companies, and taught at the university. The
pay for these positions are low. For example, a university
instructor might make $60 a month. Teaching positions are also
available at the International School of Ulaanbaatar where the pay
is comparable to other international schools in the region.
English-language teachers are always in demand. Within the embassy,
there are seven Eligible Family Member (EFM) positions - six of
which are part time. Spousal employment is a top priority within the
American Embassy - Ulaanbaatar
Post City Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:08 AM
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is located in north-central
Mongolia, some 420 miles (675 kilometers) from the Chinese border at
Erlian (by train), and 180 miles (290 kilometers) from the Russian
border at Naushki. Its altitude and continental location make UB the
coldest capital city in the world.
Ulaanbaatar means “Red Hero” and it has been called that since
the Communist Revolution of 1921. It was formerly called Urga and
Ikh Huree (“Big Camp”) when it was the center of government for its
last non-Communist ruler, the living Buddha, Bogd Khan. Built along
the Tuul River and surrounded by mountains, Ulaanbaatar is dominated
by communist style high-rise apartment buildings but about 300,000
people also live in the extended ger suburbs on the outskirts of
town. Most of the city spreads from east to west along the main
road, Peace Avenue. The focal point of this city of over 800,000
inhabitants is Sukhbaatar Square, which is dominated by a statue of
Sukhbaatar, a Communist Revolution hero, who is buried in a tomb
modeled on Lenin’s tomb in Moscow.
UB is a hardship post with a 25 percent differential. Foreign
Service employees serving a tour of at least 24 months in
Ulaanbaatar, uninterrupted by home leave, are authorized two R&R
trips to Sydney, or a destination in the U.S. Employees accepting a
three-year tour receive an additional 15% per year upon completing
Security Last Updated: 9/21/2004 10:15 PM
Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar are generally safe places to visit.
Mongolians accept foreigners readily and are congenial hosts. There
are no specific threat to Americans. However the poor economic
situation and the high visibility of foreigners makes them an easy
target for petty crimes like pick pocketing and cellular telephone
theft. The RSO strongly recommends that you carry only the money you
expect to need and leave your passports, wallets, and other
valuables in a secure location. Be especially cautious at night and
in crowded places.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:11 AM
American Embassy Ulaanbaatar has an Ambassador, thirteen State
Foreign Service Officers, one OMS, 126 local staff, seven EFM
positions, two USAID representatives, and five American Peace Corps
staff members. The DAO has three resident military personnel
assigned. There are 92 Peace Corps Volunteers in Mongolia.
The chancery is located next to the Laotian embassy in the
northeast part of Ikh Toiruu (Big Ring) Road, near the Selbe River.
The Embassy hours are 8:30 to 12:30 and 1:00 to 5:00 Monday
through Friday. The Embassy's telephone number is (976–11) 329–095
and the fax number is (976–11) 320-776.
The American staff live in a complex of new townhouses located
ten minutes drive from the Embassy. The Ambassador's residence is
also in this complex.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 10/4/2004 0:06 AM
Every effort is made to locate new employees in their permanent
quarters upon arrival. However, arrangements are made at one of the
nearby hotels when permanent housing is not immediately available.
We also have one TDY apartment. Hotel costs are within per diem and
are a short walk or taxi ride from the Embassy.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:12 AM
State, USAID and DOD personnel live in U.S. government leased
furnished townhouses and apartments called The Star Apartments. Each
townhouse has at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and
dining rooms, kitchen, and a laundry room. Closet space is minimal.
There is only one built-in closet per townhouse but each of them is
furnished with wardrobes. A heated garage with one car space per
family is in the basement of the townhouses.
A “Welcome Kit” is provided for use until UAB arrives. The kit
provides the essentials such as towels, silverware, bedding, and
dishes. If you have questions or special needs, please contact GSO.
Furnishings Last Updated: 10/4/2004 0:08 AM
The townhouse landlord provides an American-style range,
refrigerator, microwave, washer, and dryer. The Embassy provides a
freezer, a vacuum, and a water distiller. A limited number of
humidifiers, space heaters, and transformers are also available.(DOD
and AID housing may vary slightly.)
State Department personnel are provided with a sofa, chairs,
lamps, dining table, china hutch, a queen-size bed, two twin-sized
guest beds, dressers and wardrobes.
While the townhouses are good-sized, they don't have extra
storage space. Employees may not want to ship their entire weight
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/2/2004 10:05 PM
The Embassy pays for basic utilities.. Electric current is
220–240v, 50 cycle. Power outages are infrequent. The Embassy and
the residences are hooked up to generators that come on
automatically when there is an outage.
Bring a surge protector for expensive electrical equipment. An
uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a good investment for computer
A good supply of batteries is useful too, as locally available
batteries are of low quality. Fuses and a few other basic spare
parts for electrical equipment are available at post.
Hot and cold running water is provided by a central system.
Multi-system televisions, VCRs, stereos, and other electronics
are widely available in Ulaanbaatar. The prices are comparable to
dual voltage electronics prices in the States.
Food Last Updated: 9/22/2004 2:05 AM
The post has no commissary. A consumables allowance of 2,500
pounds is authorized.
The availability of basic western staples has improved over the
last 2 years and markets now stock a wide variety of packaged foods.
However, consistency is a problem. Basic foods are almost always
available, including eggs, flour, sugar, canned goods, vegetables,
fruits, and meat. The variety is more limited in winter, but
potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, green peppers,
bananas, apples, oranges, and garlic are in good supply all year
long. You may wish to import traditional holiday foods, ethnic
foods, dietary products, baby foods, snack foods, sports drinks,
spices, seasonings, and treats for children and pets. Personal care
and cleaning products are generally available, but U.S. products or
equivalents are sometimes scarce and expensive. Seldom will you find
a wide selection of products available at one location.
Merchants selling bakery items, and cheese come to the embassy on
a regular basis and many companies will deliver to the residences.
Meat and dairy products are widely available. Several butchers
provide western-style cuts of meat, and one of them will deliver to
your home. UHT and powdered milk are both available in the markets.
Snack food is increasingly available, including Chips Ahoy and
Oreo cookies, candy bars, and Lay’s Potato Chips.
Try not to ship consumables to arrive between October and March
since prolonged delays at the border or in transit may cause them to
freeze. Be sure to pack soaps and dryer sheets separately from food
items to avoid contamination.
Clothing Last Updated: 12/7/2004 1:34 AM
Because temperatures in Mongolia range from 90°F in the summer to
-40°F in the winter, you will need to bring a wide range of
You can buy fur and sheepskin hats and coats in UB (and have them
made to order if you like). You can also buy inexpensive camelhair
and cashmere sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks.
UB doesn’t get much snow but it's very cold. Standard winter
coats and hiking boots with warm wool socks are sufficient for
walking around UB in the winter. Extreme cold weather parkas and
boots are very good investment if you plan to travel in the
countryside or otherwise spend a considerable amount of time
outdoors in the winter. Long underwear is a must.
A raincoat, umbrella, and rainboots may come in handy during the
Men Last Updated: 10/4/2004 0:12 AM
Clothing for men is available locally but the quality is low and
the sizes are limited.
Children Last Updated: 9/20/2004 10:30 PM
Clothing for children is available locally but the quality is low
and the sizes are limited. With access to the Internet, it’s
possible to buy clothing online.
Office Attire Last Updated: 9/21/2004 9:44 PM
For men, office attire is business suit or jacket and tie. Dark
suits are usually worn to official meetings and representational
events. For women, skirts, dresses, and pantsuits are common office
There are one or two occasions each year for men and women to
wear formal clothes.
Supplies and Services Last Updated: 9/22/2004 1:52 AM
The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) provides an orientation
program for new families. Suggestions for consumables shipments are
in the Ulaanbaatar file in the Overseas Briefing Center. Please
contact the CLO in Ulaanbaatar for the latest information on any
aspect of life in Mongolia at CLOUlaanbaatar@state.gov
Supplies Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:28 AM
Plan on bringing all products you normally use, such as
prescription and nonprescription medications, contact lens
solutions, paper products, household cleaning supplies, U.S. Postal
Stamps, cosmetics, desk supplies and pet supplies. You can find many
items locally but availability is never guaranteed, and the quality
is not necessarily up to American standards.
To make the most of limited storage space, shoe racks and other
space savers are useful. A portable drying rack is extremely useful,
especially for air drying wool and cashmere items.
Gift-wrap, bows, ribbons, and tape are handy to have on hand.
Cards and other stationery products can be hard to find.. Plan on
bringing your own supply. A card-making computer program is useful.
Parents with a baby should bring with them everything required:
crib, playpen, stroller, bottles, sterilizer, formula, and baby
food. Disposable diapers are usually available but sizes may be
limited. Baby food is hard to find and inconsistent, vegetables are
Basic Services Last Updated: 12/2/2004 9:57 PM
There are several satisfactory and inexpensive beauty shops that
give men’s, women’s, and children's haircuts, as well as massages
and beauty treatments. Some hair products are available locally, but
employees are advised to bring a supply of the brands they use.
Dry-cleaning is available in the city at a few locations; the
quality is at U. S. standards. Laundry, dry cleaning and ironing
services are also available as a delivery service. Routine auto
maintenance (oil changes, filter replacement, tire repair) is done
locally. However, only vehicles in excellent condition, with owner’s
manuals and spare parts, should be brought to post. Gas is usually
available within the city up to a 92-octane level; however the
countryside has more infrequent gas supplies, sometimes at lower
Domestic Help Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:29 AM
Most of the Americans at post have hired part-time household
help. The current starting salary for a housekeeper is about $1-2.00
per hour. Families have found excellent childcare help.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/22/2004 3:27 AM
There are several Buddhist monasteries in Ulaanbaatar. Other
religions present include the Bahai, Church of Latter Day Saints,
the Unification Church, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Catholic
Church, and some other Christian denominations. There are special
services for Christmas and Easter as well as privately organized
Chanukah and Passover events.
At Post Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:44 AM The International School
of Ulaanbaatar (ISU), is a private institution that opened in
September 1992 and offers English-language instruction to elementary
students. The school accepts children that are 3 years of age for
Pre-School through the 12th grade. The school became fully
accredited in 2003 by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and
the New England Assosiation of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); in
addition to this accreditation the school is authorized to offer the
International Baccalaureate's Primary Years Program (PYP),the Middle
Years Program (MYP), and the Diploma Program. It is one of only 43
schools worldwide that can make this claim.
The school has been deemed adequate for K - 6 by OAS. It has
limited special needs program. Parents of children with special
needs are incouraged to contact Post and the school before bidding.
Some limited special needs resources are available in the community.
The school term is from late August through mid-June.
The Director is Harvey Cohen. The school's e-mail address is
firstname.lastname@example.org and its website is www.isumongolia.org.
Away From Post Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:45 AM Request a list of
overseas boarding schools with English instruction from the State
Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. An education allowance is
available for children from grade 7 through grade 12. The
Department’s educational allowance is designed to cover educational
costs, including room and board, and periodic transportation between
school and post. You may also want to consider home schooling. The
embassy does not provide a day care facility.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 9/21/2004 8:02 PM
The Embassy's new townhouses contain an excellent fitness center
with treadmill and bike machines, weight machines, free weights,
sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi for men and women.
The residential complex has a good outdoor playground and a
tennis court for the summer. For the long winter, we have a large
community room with a ping-pong table, a video room, and an indoor
playroom for the kids. There are several swimming pools around town,
but they’re often closed for repairs or maintenance difficulties.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:45 AM
Mongolia is one of the best countries in the world for outdoor
activities. On weekends many go to the countryside, to hike, picnic,
rock climb, camp, watch birds, hunt or fish (a fishing license is
required.) Kayaking and boating are also possible on the rivers.
With the proper clothing, outdoor activities can be enjoyed all year
Popular winter activities include cross-country skiing and
sledding. You must ship skis and sleds in your household goods, as
they are generally unavailable in local shops. Plastic may crack in
the extreme cold. Because of the dry climate, Ulaanbaatar gets very
little snowfall. However the hills around the city receive a fair
amount. The embassy has an annual winter picnic in January or
February at a ski and sledding area about 20 kilometers outside of
Ulaanbaatar. The Four Holy Peaks surrounding UB offer challenging
hiking and breathtaking views. There is more hiking in Gurvansaikhan
National Park, around the hills of Khovd, and in the Gobi Desert.
Huge Khovsgol Nuur Lake is a great place for fishing and kayaking
and there is spelunking in the lakeshore caves.
Big game hunting is also available in Mongolia, but must be
arranged through a travel company and is expensive. It is possible
to hunt antelope and wolves year-around and the cost is more modest.
Local travel companies provide excellent and modestly priced
tours to all parts of Mongolia, including trips to Lake Hovsgol, the
Gobi, and even Lake Baikal in Russia. You can arrange to stay in a
ger at a tourist camp or in a hotel. Helicopter trips are also
Photographers will find that the extraordinary light and the
beautiful scenery make Mongolia a great place to practice their
hobby. Color film is available now in many shops and getting it
processed is possible, even in one hour. However, the quality of the
processing leaves a lot to be desired so you may want to send the
film to the US to be developed. Slides cannot be made in Mongolia.
Entertainment Last Updated: 10/4/2004 0:22 AM
Ballet, opera, theater, folksong and dance, and symphonic
performances are presented in Ulaanbaatar regularly, especially
during the winter months. Tickets are inexpensive and easy to
obtain. There is an English language movie theater that shows
first-run Hollywood movies.
Several places rent videos in town but their selections are
sparse. The Embassy has a small video library in addition to a small
book library. It’s a good idea to bring lots of videos, books,
music, video and board games, or anything else you enjoy.
There are a variety of museums and sights to see in Ulaanbaatar.
Some of the most popular places to visit are Gandan Monastery, the
Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, the Museum of Natural History, the
Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Mongolian History.
An increasing number of international restaurants including
Italian, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Thai, French, and German are open
in Ulaanbaatar. Service and menu selection are reasonably good.
Tipping is not required or expected.
Social Activities Last Updated: 9/21/2004 10:32 PM
Most social activities in Mongolia are casual, with informal
entertaining being done at home. Year-round picnics are also
There are also groups such as the Hash House Harriers, the
International Women’s Association, the bridge club, The Rotary Club,
and the Steppe Inn at the British embassy that meet regularly.
The International Women’s Association sponsors an annual ball in
February. Dress is semi-formal.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 9/21/2004 10:36 PM
Embassy officers have frequent contact with the diplomatic
community and with Mongolian officials. Official functions within
the Embassy usually consist of receptions in the Embassy reception
room or representational events in staff residences. Home
entertainment by the Mongolians is rare, except on major holidays
such as Tsagaan Tsar (Lunal New Year).
Junior officers and staff personnel lead an active social life
within the international community. Although they have fewer social
requirements than senior officials, they frequently attend and host
official or semi-official functions.
Dress tends to be business clothes unless “casual” is written on
the invitation. Eveningwear for men is a suit and tie; for women
it’s a street-length dress or slacks and dressy top.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 9/22/2004 3:35 AM
No formal calls within the Embassy are necessary, but soon after
arrival newcomers will meet the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of
Mission, and visit other employees in their offices. Formal calls
should be made on Mongolian ministry officials or other members of
the diplomatic community as appropriate. In making these calls,
employees should leave calling cards.
Business cards are widely used in Mongolia. Cards may be printed
locally and the quality of paper and printing is good.
Special Information Last Updated: 10/4/2004 0:19 AM
Not all sections of the post report will pertain to military
personnel assigned to Mongolia. The post report can serve as a good
source of general information, but military personnel should
correspond directly with their prospective commands and their
sponsors for more definitive information concerning assignments,
housing, medical and dental care, importation of privately owned
Related Internet Sites Last Updated: 9/22/2004 1:13 AM
US Embassy at Ulaanbaatar www.us-mongolia.com Mongolia Online
www.mol.mn Mongolia Resource Page www.soros.org/mongolia Discover
Mongolia www.discover.mn/mongolia Lonely Planet www.lonelyplanet.com
UN Site www.un-mongolia.mn UNDP www.undp.org CIA World Fact
Book-Mongolia www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbo ok/mg.html
Mongolia WWW Virtual Library www.indiana.edu/mongsoc/vl.html
Mongolia on the Web www.geocities.com/yammit_2000 Mongolian
Parliament Web Site www.parl.gov.mn
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:47 AM
Most Americans assigned to Ulaanbaatar fly through Beijing, Tokyo
or Seoul. It's also possible to fly from Berlin and Moscow or, in
the summer, through Osaka.
Airfreight from the U.S. arrives generally within three weeks.
Beijing should receive an information copy of cables concerning air
or surface shipments. UB has consumables authorized for air freight.
Surface shipments are routed from the U.S. to the Chinese port of
Xingang (Tianjin), and are consigned to International Transport
Express (ITE) for onward shipment by train. Train wheels must be
changed at the border to allow for different gauges of track.
Normally, shipment arrives in two weeks after reaching the border.
Shipments made after the end of September have been known to freeze.
Be sure to check with OPR/STP regarding the latest information on
maximum dimensions of containers. There are size and weight
restrictions for airfreight shipments because cargo space of flights
from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar is limited. Each piece should not exceed
40 kilograms, 2 meters in height or width, and 1½ meter deep.
Anything larger cannot be shipped.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 9/22/2004 0:27 AM
If you’re traveling through Korea or Japan, you won’t need a
visa. If you’re traveling through China you will need a transit
visa. Diplomatic passport holders don’t have to pay an airport
departure tax at the Beijing or Seoul airports.
Pets Last Updated: 9/19/2005 2:48 AM
There is no quarantine for cats and dogs in Mongolia. Be sure to
bring a health certificate and proof of vaccinations. You should
check with the airline to determine if it accepts pets in the
luggage or passenger compartment. Also confirm with hotels used
enroute if they will accept pets.
Although dry and canned cat food can be found in the market, it’s
still a good idea to bring what you'll need for your pet or be
prepared to order it from the States. Kitty litter is not always
available, but paper from the shredder makes excellent filler for
the litter box.
Be careful about taking your dog into the countryside in
Mongolia. Fleas may carry bubonic plague.
Be sure to let the embassy know if you’re planning to bring a pet
to post. The GSO can help arrange transportation and hotel
There is only one hotel in Beijing that accepts pets: the
Sinoswiss. There are no hotels in Seoul that accept pets, however
there are a number of hospitals that will board your animal.
Bringing pets through Japan is difficult; check with the Embassy and
the airline before making arrangements.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 9/22/2004 0:45 AM
If you plan to bring firearms and ammunition to post for
recreational use, please notify the RSO in advance.
Hunters traveling with groups have no problems transporting guns
and ammunition because they’re sealed and stored in Beijing by the
Chinese government and are rechecked by Mongolian officials at the
point of entry in Mongolia. All ammunition must be accounted for
when leaving Mongolia.
If a permanent resident wishes to bring a gun to post, he/she
should contact the U.S. Customs Service and the Mongolian Embassy in
Washington to obtain the proper documents and seal the gun for
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
9/19/2005 2:49 AM
The local currency is the “tugrik.” The tugrik is the sole legal
currency although dollars are acceptable in some stores and
restaurants. Traveler’s checks are available for purchase at the
Trade and Development Bank when you need to travel outside Mongolia.
Traveler’s checks can be cashed at the Trade and Development Bank
and major hotels. Credit cards are not widely accepted except in
major hotels, shops, and restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards
are available at the Trade and Development Bank and there are
several ATM machines in Ulaanbaatar. All ATMs are VISA only.
Personal checks are not accepted by local businesses. However, the
Embassy’s cashier will cash checks up to $500 for permanent and TDY
The metric system of weights and measures is used in Mongolia.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 9/30/2003
Sale of property upon departure is subject to normal U.S.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 9/22/2004 1:19 AM
These titles are provided to give you an idea of the kind of
information that has been published about Mongolia. The Department
of State does not endorse unofficial publications.
Allen, Benedict. Edge of Blue Heaven: A Journey Through Mongolia.
Robson Book LTD, 1999.
Avery, Martha. Women of Mongolia. Avery Press, Sep 1996.
Becker, Jasper. The Lost Country: Mongolia Revealed. Sceptre,
Bowden, C.R. The Modern History of Mongolia. Paul Kegan, Inc.,
Bull, Bartle. Around the Sacred Sea: Mongolia and Lake Baikal on
Horseback. Canongate Pub., 2000.
Croner, Don. Travels in Northern Mongolia. Polar Star Pub., 1999.
Goldstein, Melvin. Changing World of Mongolia’s Nomads.
University of Chicago Press, 1994.
Jagchid, Sechim. Essays in Mongolian Studies. Brigham Young
Major, John S. The Land and People of Mongolia. Lippincott, 1990.
Metternich, Hilary Roe. Mongolian Folktales. Avery Press, 1996.
Morgan, David. The Mongols. Basil Blackwell, Inc., 1987.
Moses, Larry N. and Stephen A. Halkovik Jr. Introduction to
Mongolia. Indiana University Press, 1985.
Moses, Larry N. The Political Role of Mongol Buddhism. Indiana
University Press, 1977.
Phillips, E.D. The Mongols. Thames and Hudson, 1969.
Rossabi, Morris. Mongolia, The Legacy of Ghenghis Khaan. Thames
and Hudson, 1995.
Sandage, Shagdariin. Poisoned Arrow: The Stalin-Choibalsan
Mongolian Massacres, 1921–1941. Westview Press, 1999.
Sanders, Alan. Lonely Planet Mongolian Phrasebook. 1995.
Saunders, J.J. The History of the Mongol Conquest. Routledge.
Paul Kegan, 1971.
Severin, Tim. In Search of Genghis Khan. Collier, 1993.
Storey, Robert. Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia. 1997 edition.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 9/30/2003 12:08 AM
New Year’s Day Jan 1 Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) 2 or 3 days
(varies) Feb Mother and Child Day June l Naadam (National Day) July
11–13 Independence Day Nov 26