Brief History of Mongolia
The Mongols have long prehistory and most remarkable history. The Huns, a people who lived in Central Asia from the 3rd to the 1st century BCE, may have been ancestors of Mongolia. The Huns were a nomadic people and according to European historical documents, they were first reported living east of the Volga River, in an area that was part of Scythia at the time; the Huns' arrival is associated with the migration westward of an Iranian people, the Alans. By 370 AD, the Huns had arrived on the Volga, and by 430 the Huns had established a vast, if short-lived, dominion in Europe, conquering the Goths and many other Germanic peoples living outside of Roman borders, and causing many others to flee into Roman territory. The Huns, especially under their King Attila, made frequent and devastating raids into the Eastern Roman Empire. After Atilla's death, the Huns ceased to be a major threat to Romans and the empire slowly disbanded into different tribes living across Asia and some parts of Europe.
12th-century Mongolia was characterized by the rivalry between many tribes and confederations. A united Mongolian state of nomadic tribes was formed in the early 13th century CE by Genghis Khan, and his successors controlled a vast empire that included much of China, Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The empire grew rapidly under his rule and that of his descendants, who sent out invading armies in every direction. The vast transcontinental empire connected the East with the West in an enforced Pax Mongolica, allowing the dissemination and exchange of trade, technologies, commodities and ideologies across Eurasia.
The Mongol empire eventually collapsed and split up, and from 1691 northern Mongolia was colonized by Qing (Manchu) China. With the collapse of the Qing rule in Mongolia in 1911/12, the Bogd Gegeen (or Javzandamba), Mongolia’s religious leader, was proclaimed Bogd Khan, or head of state. He declared Mongolia’s independence, but only autonomy under China’s suzerainty was achieved. From 1919, nationalist revolutionaries, with Soviet assistance, drove out Chinese troops attempting to reoccupy Mongolia, and in 1921 they expelled the invading White Russian cavalry. July 11, 1921, then became celebrated as the anniversary of the revolution. The Mongolian People’s Republic was proclaimed in November 1924, and the Mongolian capital, centered on the main monastery of the Bogd Gegeen, was renamed Ulaanbaatar (“Red Hero”).
From 1921 until the end of the 1980s, Mongolia was a one-party state closely tied to the Soviet Union. It received technical, economic, and military assistance from the Soviet Union and generally followed Soviet guidance in political and economic matters and in the building of a socialist society. However, beginning in 1990, forces for change in Mongolia ended the monopoly of political power by the communists in favor of free multiparty elections, coalition government, a new constitution, greater cultural and religious freedom with more emphasis on Mongol national traditions, a neutral position in international relations, and a transition to a market economy.
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