Located in north central Mongolia, the city lies at an elevation of about 1 310 metres, in a valley on the Tuul River. It is the cultural, industrial, and financial mongolian center. It is the centre of Mongolia’s road network, and is connected by rail to both the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia. Since Mongolia’s transition to a market economy in 1990, the city has experienced further growth, especially in the yurt quarters, as construction of new blocks of flats had basically broken down in the 1990s. The population has more than doubled to over one million inhabitants, about 50% of Mongolia’s entire population.
This causes a number of social, environmental, and transportation problems. In recent years, construction of new buildings has gained new momentum, especially in the city center, and apartment prices have skyrocketed.
Places to visit
Mongolian tourist guide books usually recommend the Gandan monastery with the large Janrasag statue, the monument complex at Zaisan with its great view over the city, the Bogd Khan’s winter palace, Sukhbaatar square and the nearby Choijin Lama monastery. Additionally, Ulaanbaatar houses numerous museums, two of the most well-known being the Museum of National History and the Museum of Natural History. Popular destinations for day trips are the Terelj national park, the Manzoushir Monastery ruins on the southern flank of Bogd Khan Uul and a large equestrian statue of Genghis Khan. Ulaanbaatar now has three large cinemas, one modern ski resort, two large indoor stadiums and one large amusement park. Food, entertainment and recreation venues are steadily increasing in variety. Ulaanbaatar has several museums dedicated to Mongolian history and culture. The Natural History Museum features many dinosaur fossils and meteorites found in Mongolia.The National Museum of Mongolia includes exhibits from prehistoric times through the Mongol Empire to the present day. The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts contains a large collection of Mongolian art, including works of the 17th century artist Zanabazar. Puzzle Toys Museum displays a comprehensive collection of complex wooden toys to be assembled by players using sophisticated methods.
Air pollution is a serious problem in Ulaanbaatar, especially in winter. Concentrations of certain types of particulate matter regularly exceed WHO recommended maximum levels by more than a dozen times. They also exceed the concentrations measured in northern Chinese industrial cities. During the winter months, smoke regularly obscures vision and can even lead to problems with air traffic at the local airport. Sources of the pollution are mainly the simple stoves used for heating and cooking in the city’s yurt quarters. The problem is compounded by Ulaanbaatar location in the a valley between relatively high mountains, which shield the city from the winter winds and thus obstruct air circulation.