"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The blog at 101

The country defines remote. And somewhere, there's a new reader of Coffee with Clark, bringing to 101 the number of countries with readers here.
Today, a reader from Mongolia showed up, raising more questions and story possibilities for me. How in the world...?
When I was growing up, there was Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, the inner being part of China. After all these years, there's now only the former Outer, now Mongolia. I know more about this country because I've had a student from there this past year, a smiling, intelligent young man about to graduate. He's from the Chinese Mongolia, but has relatives in the country to the north. His presentation on Mongolian Media was a highlight of my International Media class in the fall.

History

It's most famous in the west because of Genghis Khan who founded the Mongol Empire  in 1206, and continued under his son Kublai, dominating China and central Asia. Tibetan Buddhism conquered the country in the 1500s, and then it was ruled by a Chinese dynasty until its collapse in 1911. It gained independence in 1921 and wasn't recognized until after WWII, and then the USSR took over, making it a satellite state. With that collapse in 1989 the country declared independence again, elected a multi-part parliament and turned to the market system. 
Mongolia is the most sparsely settled country in the world, with only about 3.5 million people, (the size of Oklahoma  in an area bigger than our entire Great Plains) almost half of whom live in the capital, Ulan Bator. Its harsh country and weather makes it a natural for about 25 percent of the population who are nomadic. It is indeed remote, with mountains to the north and the Gobi Desert to the south, bordered on all sides either by Russia or China.It's the second largest landlocked country in the world. About 20 percent of the population live on the equivalent of about $1.25 a day.
Its flag, adopted in 1992,  carries blue for the vast sky, and red for the harsh climate and country. A yellow symbol, the "soyombo,"  represents the four elements and the Yin/Yang.

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