Ulan Bator

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Ulan Bator:

see UlaanbaatarUlaanbaatar
or Ulan Bator
[Mongolian,=red hero], Chinese Kulun, city (2010 est. pop. 1,500,000), capital of the Republic of Mongolia, E central Mongolia, on the Tola River.
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, Mongolia
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ulan Bator


the capital of the Mongolian People’s Republic and the country’s main political, economic, and cultural center.

Ulan Bator is situated in the valley of the Tola River (Selenga River basin), at the confluence of the Seiba River with the Tola, at elevations of 1,300-1,350 m. It is surrounded by mountains, the highest of which is Bogdo-Ula, a preserve of the Mongolian People’s Republic. The climate is sharply continental. The average January temperature is -27°C, and the average July temperature, 18°C. The annual precipitation is about 250 mm, with the maximum falling in the summer. There are spring freshets, and to protect the city, dikes have been built along the Tola River.

Administratively, Ulan Bator is divided into four districts. Also under the capital’s jurisdiction are the satellite city of Nalai-kha, with the rights of a district, and a number of residential suburbs, including Songino. The city covers an area of 7,300 sq km. Its population at the beginning of 1975 was 325,000, or one-half of Mongolia’s total urban population.

Administration. Ulan Bator is governed by the city khural of people’s deputies, who are elected by the population for three-year terms (one deputy per 600 voters). Between the sessions of the khural, held twice a year, the city is governed by an executive committee. The khural organizes various permanent commissions, such as the commissions on light and heavy industry, trade, and the food-service industry. The executive committee forms the planning commission, the bureau of statistics and labor, and various branch departments and directorates, such as the military, financial, organizational and instructional, cultural, public education, and economics departments and the public health, militia, and city architect directorates.

History. Ulan Bator was founded in 1639 as the migratory residence of the spiritual leader of the lamas in Mongolia under the name Orgoo (Mongolian, “headquarters”), from which Urga is derived, the name of the city used by Europeans until 1924. From 1706 it was called Ikh Khure (“Great Monastery”), and from 1911, Niislel Khure (“Capital Monastery”). Situated on the Russian-Chinese trade route, Ikh Khure soon became an important trade center. In 1778 the city became the permanent residence of the Lamaist spiritual leader. From the second half of the 18th century, Ikh Khure was the residence of the Manchu vicegerent and the administrative center of Outer Mongolia. A Russian consulate was established here in 1860. From 1911 to 1915, Niislel Khure was the capital of the Mongolian feudal-theocratic state, and from 1915, the main city of autonomous Outer Mongolia.

In 1919, D. Sukhe-Bator, Kh. Choibalsan, and others organized the first revolutionary circle in Niislel Khure, which served as the basis for the founding in 1921 of the Mongolian People’s Party (since 1925, the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party). In November 1919 the city was occupied by the Chinese troops of Hsü Shu-cheng, as a result of which Mongolia lost its autonomy. In February 1921 it was occupied by the White Guards of Baron R. F. Ungern von Sternberg. On July 6, 1921, the city was liberated by the Mongolian People’s Army, with the assistance of several units of the Red Army. As a result of the triumph of the Mongolian People’s Revolution of 1921, a people’s government of Mongolia was formed in Niislel Khure. In November 1924, Niislel Khure was renamed Ulan Bator and made the capital of the Mongolian People’s Republic.


Economy. Under the people’s government, Ulan Bator has become an important industrial center, accounting for nearly one-half of Mongolia’s gross industrial output. A number of industrial enterprises were constructed with the assistance of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). Enterprises of almost all branches of industry are concentrated in the capital, especially those of light industry. Foremost is the Ulan Bator Industrial Combine, which includes factories for the production of footwear and leather clothing accessories, a wool-washing enterprise, and enterprises for the production of sheepskins, worsted textiles, and felt. There is also a carpet factory. Other important branches are the food industry, represented by a meat-packing plant, a bread-baking plant, a distillery and brewery, and a flour mill; the building-materials industry, represented by a housebuilding combine and brick, concrete, and cement factories; the woodworking industry, represented by furniture factories; and the metalworking industry, which includes a plant for the repair of motor vehicles. Electric power is supplied by three heat and power plants, which operate using coal from Nalaikha.

Ulan Bator is Mongolia’s principal transportation junction. The main railroad line is the Moscow-Ulan Bator-Peking line. The city is linked with other cities of Mongolia by highways. Ulan Bator is the country’s leading center for foreign trade, receiving more than 70 percent of all imports, and the primary trade distribution center. The city has an international airport.


Architecture and city planning. Intensive construction has been under way in Ulan Bator since the 1940’s. The city has been transformed from a small town with Buddhist monasteries and small trade and residential districts, chaotically built up with clay houses and felt yurts (conical dwellings), into a comfortable and landscaped modern city with a regular layout. The city’s layout, which had evolved over the centuries, radically altered between 1954 and 1974; the web of streets and squares was untangled, and the residential and industrial districts and recreation areas were clearly delineated. In 1975 a new long-range plan (to the year 2000) was drawn up, which, among other things, limited industrial construction to ensure a stable level for the city’s population.

Numerous public building complexes were constructed with the assistance of Soviet architects, including the Government House (1950’s and 1960’s; architects Chimid, N. M. Shchepitil’ni-kov, V. N. Pavlov), the tomb of D. Sukhe-Bator and Kh. Choibalsan (1950’s; architects B. S. Mezentsev, Chimid, and others), and several residential districts. Among the architectural monuments in and around Ulan Bator are the Gandan Monastery (18th and 19th centuries), with the largest Buddhist temple in Mongolia (Megdzhit-Dzhanraiseg; 1911-13), the Choidzhin Lamasery (1904-08; now the Museum of Religious History of the Academy of Sciences of the Mongolian People’s Republic), and the Nogon-Orgo palace ensemble (1832; former winter residence of the bogdo-gegen, now a museum).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Among the educational institutions in Ulan Bator are the Mongolian State University, a polytechnic institute, pedagogical, medical, agricultural, and physical culture institutes, the D. Sukhe-Bator Higher Party School, and a number of specialized secondary schools. The Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Party History of the Central Committee of the Mongolian People’s Republic are also in Ulan Bator. Attached to the Academy of Sciences are the scientific research institutes of animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, plants and crops, fodder and pasture, light and food industry, transportation, medicine, geology and mining, water supply, and construction. The State Public Library is located in Ulan Bator.

Museums include the State Central Museum (history, natural history, archaeology, and art), the V. I. Lenin Museum, the Central Museum of the Revolution, the Ulan Bator Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, and the D. Natsagdorzh Museum.

Cultural institutions include the State Opera and Ballet Theater, the D. Natsagdorzh State Drama Theater, the Central Children’s Theater, the Puppet Theater, the Mongolian State Circus, the Music and Choreographic School, the State Philharmonic Society, and the Mongolkino Film Studio.


Maidar, D. Arkhitektura i gradostroitel’stvo Mongolii: Ocherki poistorii. [Moscow, 1971.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Ulan Bator

the capital of Mongolia, in the N central part: developed in the mid-17th century around the Da Khure monastery, residence until 1924 of successive "living Buddhas" (third in rank of Buddhist-Lamaist leaders), and main junction of caravan routes across Mongolia; university (1942); industrial and commercial centre. Pop.: 842 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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