History of Mongolia. For centuries the Mongols were separate, warring bands or tribes inhabiting a remote area north of China. When they were welded into a unified army by Genghis Khan early in the 13th century, the Mongols conquered most of Asia. After this empire fell in the 14th century, Mongol strength declined. In the 17th century, the Manchus of China conquered the Mongol region. Eventually it became divided into two parts. The southern section, called Inner Mongolia, was more accessible to Chinese influence and colonization and became an integral part of China. The northern section, that corresponding roughly to the modern nation, was called Outer Mongolia. Here the Manchus had little control.

When China became a republic in 1911, Outer Mongolia declared its independence. Four years later it agreed to become an autonomous region within China. The most respected religious figure, the Living Buddha of Urga, became head of state. In 1920 an anti-Bolshevik Russian army under Baron Roman Nikolaus von Ungern-Sternberg retreated into Mongolia and soon tried to take it over. Ungern-Sternberg was driven out in 1921 by Mongolian Communists and Russian Red Army troops. When the Living Buddha died in 1924, a Communist republic was established.

Soviet influence soon became dominant. Wealth was redistributed, the nobility exterminated, religion suppressed, and Mongolian, culture denied expression. During the 1950's collectivism was imposed. Mongolia became isolationist and maintained few ties with non-Communist countries.

In 1990, liberalizing trends in the Communist world affected Mongolia. Opposition groups forced a change in leadership, the holding of multiparty democratic elections, and the introduction of private enterprise. There was an upsurge of nationalism and a revival of interest in Mongolian history and culture. In 1992, a democratic constitution was adopted. The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), with ties to former communists, lost power to the Democratic Union Coalition in the mid-1990's, but it returned to power in elections held in 2000; party leader Nambaryn Enkhbayar became prime minister. Bagabandi was reelected president in 2001.

No party or coalition won the most votes in legislative elections in 2001. The MPRP and the Motherland Democratic Coalition (MDC) decided to share power. Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj of the MDC served as prime minister. In presidential elections in 2005, Enkhbayar won. In 2006, Elbegdorj resigned as prime minister and was replaced by Miyeegombo Enkhbold of the MPRP. In legislative elections in 2008, the MPRP again returned to power. In 2009 presidential elections, Elbegdorj of the MDC defeated Enkhbayar.