When you think of Mongolia, you might picture a group of fierce, yak hair-clad nomads in deels (traditional Mongolian overcoats — pronounced as ‘del’), riding magnificent desert steeds over rolling plateaus and into the distant horizon. Thanks to globalization and the wonders of the world wide web, such outdated romantic images are no longer representative of the country.
In a nation of 3.1 million people, almost two-thirds of the population ,or 2.2 million (as of 2016), now live in urban areas such as the nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. And while poverty remains a rising and undeniable issue in the nation’s urban slum communities, Mongolia is also among some of the world’s fastest developing countries and experienced economic growth in the double digits in the early 2010’s.
One only needs to take a look at Ulaanbaatar and its ever-changing cityscape. Newly erected clusters of shining high-rises and shopping malls against a backdrop of Soviet-style tenement blocks and Mongolian and Russian-influenced architecture. The people are changing too, decked out in the latest foreign brands, which can can now easily be purchased at the city’s (formerly government-owned) State Department Store. Dynamism and signs of growth are everywhere.