For many people, it can be confusing as there are two Mongolia’s. There is the country Mongolia, and there’s also Inner Mongolia; even though they both have the Mongolian name, they are not the same country.
Mongolia is an independent country that gained its full independence when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1990. Inner Mongolia, also known as the Autonomous Region of Mongolia, is part of China. The people who live in Inner Mongolia are considered Chinese citizens. In contrast, the people who live in Mongolia are considered Mongolian citizens. Even if they may speak the same language and have a similar culture, they are two different countries.
Mongolia Vs. Inner Mongolia
Mongolia is also known as Outer Mongolia, is an independent country. Mongolia is sandwiched between China and Russia and shares a border with Inner Mongolia. Inner Mongolia is an Autonomous Region of China. The capital city of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar.
Mongolia has Its own government that is independent of Inner Mongolia. In fact, to travel between the two places, you must have a visa and go through border control.
On the other hand, Inner Mongolia is a part of China. Many of the Inner Mongolians will also need to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese. If they wanted to fly to Mongolia, they would need to go through a border and have a visa just like anyone else.
China has been working to assimilate the Mongolians into their culture. They recently passed some laws that stated that Mongolians in Inner Mongolia should be taught in Chinese and not in the Mongolian language. This move by the Chinese has received a lot of protests.
Inner Mongolians are ethnic minorities in China but are also Chinese citizens. Learning Chinese has some practical implications because the Mongolians who live in Inner Mongolia are Chinese citizens. As Chinese citizens, to really survive in other parts of China, they would need to speak, read, and write fluent Mandarin Chinese.
Why Are There Different Mongolias?
The question many people wonder why are there even different Mongolia’s in the first place? Why isn’t there just one country of Mongolia?
Like most things in this part of the world, the answer is never quite simple and can be quite complex. One of the main things to understand is that both Mongolia’s were united together as one for many years.
To really understand why there are two Mongolia, you need to go way back in Chinese history to the Qing Dynasty of China (1644 to 1912). The Manchus were from northeastern China, and they were also the emperors of the Ching Dynasty.
To discover more about the Manchu’s you can read our blog on What Is The Difference Between Manchu, Mongols, And Han Chinese People? by clicking here.
During the Qing Dynasty, all of Mongolia, including Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia was part of China. In 1911, part of Mongolia broke off to become its own independent country.
The Russians or Bolsheviks came to the rescue of the Mongolians in 1921 and helped them form the country of the Republic of Mongolia. From 1921 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Mongolia was a socialist country that listened to Moscow’s directives.
Stalin wanted Mongolia under his command because Mongolia could be a buffer between Russia and China. Mongolia that borders both Russia to the north and China to the south offered him the perfect buffer zone.
When the Berlin wall fell on November 9, 1989, Mongolia saw this as an opportunity to be a completely free and independent nation. In 1990 Mongolia establish a multiparty government with a free market economy.
Inner Mongolia that is part of China has a much larger Mongolian population than Mongolia; more Mongolians live outside Mongolia than inside independent Mongolia.
Inner Mongolia vs the Mongolian Script and Language
One of the most striking and surprising differences between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia is the language. After the Russians came to power, Mongolia got rid of the ancient Mongolian script and introduced a Cyrillic script in the 1940s. Under the Russians, the ancient Mongolian script was lost.
The Chinese kept the ancient Mongolian script in Inner Mongolia. This means that Inner Mongolia is the last place on the earth that uses the ancient Mongolian script.
This ancient Mongolian script has been around for over 800 years. It was the main script that was used during the golden era of the silk road trade.
This ancient Mongolian script all the way back to the rule of Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan appointed the Uyghur scholar Tatatunga to develop a unifying script that would unite his empire with the same written language.
As China has been cracking down on using this ancient script to simulate the Mongolians into the Chinese culture, now many Mongolians see it as their duty to help revive and preserve this ancient script, which they lost under the Russians.
Even though Mongolia and Inner Mongolia share a culture, language, and way of life, they are still two separate countries. Mongolia is its own independent country with its own government. Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in China; the Mongolians who live in China are Chinese citizens.
What To Buy At The Mongolian Black Market (Naran Tuul)?
There are a lot of great finds at the Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Some of the more interesting finds that I found were horse and camel products, Mongolian style furniture and some antiques and antique reproductions. This is definitely a “must-experience” place for any visitor to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
You can learn more by reading the blog What To Buy At The Mongolian Black Market (Naran Tuul)? What To Know by clicking here.
Is It Safe To Visit Mongolia?
Mongolia is generally safe to visit, but there are specific safety precautions that you should take when you are traveling in Mongolia for any traveler. There are areas in the city you should be extra cautious when traveling. Also, if you are out in the countryside, there are safety concerns you need to be aware of.
You can find out more by reading our blog Is It Safe To Visit Mongolia? Staying Safe While Traveling Mongolia by clicking here.