Mongolia is an East Asian landlocked nation bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south. It has a population of 3.3 million people and an area of 1,564,116 square kilometers (603,909 square miles), making it the world's most sparsely inhabited sovereign country. Mongolia is the world's biggest landlocked nation without a closed sea, with grassland steppe covering most of its territory and mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Ulaanbaatar, the country's capital and biggest city, is home to about half of the population.
Various nomadic dynasties, including the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Rouran, and the First Turkic Khaganate, controlled the land of modern-day Mongolia. Genghis Khan established the Mongol Empire in 1206, which grew to become the world's greatest continuous land empire. Kublai Khan, his grandson, invaded China and established the Yuan dynasty. Except during the reigns of Dayan Khan and Tumen Zasagt Khan, the Mongols fled to Mongolia after the Yuan's demise and resumed their previous pattern of factional struggle. Tibetan Buddhism extended to Mongolia in the 16th century, aided by the Manchu-founded Qing dynasty, which annexed the nation in the 17th century. By the early twentieth century, Buddhist monks made up almost one-third of the adult male population. Mongolia proclaimed independence after the fall of the Qing empire in 1911, and obtained genuine independence from the Republic of China in 1921. Shortly after, the nation became a satellite state of the Soviet Union, which had helped it achieve independence from China. The Mongolian People's Republic was established as a socialist state in 1924. Following the 1989 anti-communist uprisings, Mongolia had its own peaceful democratic revolution in early 1990. This resulted in a multi-party system, a new 1992 constitution, and the shift to a market economy.
Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic, and horse culture is still important. The dominant religion is Buddhism, with the nonreligious being the second-largest group. Islam is the second-largest religion, mostly practiced by ethnic Kazakhs. The majority of people are ethnic Mongols, with Kazakhs, Tuvans, and other minorities accounting for around 5% of the population, with a concentration in the west. Mongolia is a member of the UN, the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, the G77, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Non-Aligned Movement, and a NATO worldwide partner. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization in 1997 and aims to increase its engagement in regional economic and trade organizations.