The Altay Mountains in western Mongolia contain the highest of the country’s peaks, at an elevation of about 4,620 m (about 15,157 ft). They extend west to southeast near the Chinese border. Snow covers the mountains most of the year. In December 1957 the remote Govĭ Altayn Nuruu region experienced one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded.
To discover : The largest desert in Asia, the Gobi straddles the border between Mongolia and China. It contains a series of basins that are divided by low, flat-topped ranges and isolated hills, as pictured here. Grassy plains called steppes make up an important transition zone between forest and desert in Mongolia. The steppe region has a dry climate that is ideal for grassland. Herders round up their horses on the steppes of Mongolia (grassy plains) . The steppes are dry but relatively fertile, and they support large populations of livestock as well as many types of wild animals.
Ulaanbaatar, in north central Mongolia, is the nation’s capital, its largest city, and its cultural and industrial center. Ulaanbaatar grew up around a 17th-century Buddhist monastery, on the hilly banks of the Tuul River. Today government buildings, a university, a national theater, and several museums line its central square.
This large traditional ger, or yurt, is set up at a herder’s collective in the Gobi. The walls of the tent consist of wooden fences that form a framework on which are lashed felt pads and white canvas. The roof is made of poles attached to a wheel, and a large hole provides ventilation for wood smoke. The finished tent stands up well to Mongolia’s fierce winds.