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This page was last updated on: May 7, 2017
The Ulaanbaatar Report
History of Ulaanbaatar (Улаанбаатар)
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According to historians, the "City" of Ulaanbataar was first established in the year 1639 AD, several centuries after the fall of the Great Mongolian Empire which Capital Karakoram had been the first true urbanized city in Outer Mongolia. The first "city" of Ulaanbataar was not a city at all, but was established as a moveable Buddhist Monastery, around which clustered the "Ger" of supporting and passing nomad families. At the time it was known as Örgöö, which translates from Mongolian as "Palace-Ger". I.e. the name for the Monastery Tent that made up the center of the community and so formed the first reason for the nomads to settle in one place. As such, at the time, the "City" of Ulaanbataar was not much more than a veritable tent camp which was moved no less than 30 times before it finally settled in the current location in the the Tuul River Valley.

The actual City of Ulaanbataar as an urban center only started in earnest with the conclusion of the Treaty of Nerchinsk (Russian: Нерчинский договор; Chinese: 尼布楚條約) in 1689 AD and the subsequent development of what has become known as the "Tea Road". Previously, there had been virtually no trade between the Chinese in the south and the various Mongolian Tribes in the north. Remaining emnities between Han (Chinese) and Mongolians during the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) had prevented trade by and large, although in the late 16th century the Ming finally allowed for cross-border trade with the Mongolian Tribes. This had greatly improved relations with the otherwise war-like Mongolian Tribes, but it was not until the Russians solidified their hold on Mongolian Territories and the Manchu Qing Pacified the regions south of the newly created "border" that any real ties and traffic became possible.
Subsequently, building on sparsely existing trading paths pioneered by "Shanxi Businessmen" in the Qing Dynasty Era (1644 AD - 1911 AD), the Tea Road became an trading route between China and the newly arriving regional power of the Russian Empire, which by that time had sufficiently expanded westward to come into recurring conflict with Qing China. However, after conclusion of the Treaty of Nerchinsk, settling borders as well as trading issues, mutual traffic and economic ties blossomed leading to the establishment of permanent trading routes across the Mongolian plain, and small settlements to act as trading posts strung along them. Ulaanbataar was one such trading post on the route northward into Siberia and Russian Territories and it became one of the main trading posts in Mongolia.
Several decades later, in 1727 AD, the Treaty of Kiakhta (Russian: Кяхтинский договор; Chinese: 布連斯奇條約/恰克圖條約 also Cakurtu Treaty) fixed what is now the border of Mongolia west of the Argun River and opened up a large scale caravan trade between Beijing, the Capital of China and Russia far to the west, along which route Ulaanbataar became an indispensable stop-over. Although trading links already existed at that time, it was the Caravan trade that eventually really "made" the city of Ulaanbataar. That is, almost one and a half century after its first reported existance, the "felt city" of Ulaanbataar had become important enough commercial center in the trading system of Tea Road (the overland trade route from Beijing via either Kalgan or Datong to Ulaanbataar and from there into Russian territories and onto the long haul to St. Petersburg, the Capital of Tzarist Russia) to have it make a final settlement in its current location in the year 1778 AD. From these humble beginnings the city of today arrived.

Apart from changing locations, the "felt city" which has become today's Ulaanbataar, also changed names several times in its existence. As mentioned above, initially, between 1639 AD and 1706 AD, the "settlement" was known as Örgöö, from the Mongolian word for palace (or in this case Palace Tent). From 1706 to 1911 the name was Ikh Khüree, and from 1911 to 1924, when Chinese forces took over large parts of Inner- and Outer-Mongolia, it was briefly known as Niislel Khüree.
There after the name of the city was changed again, reflecting the Russian dominance over Mongolia, the defeat of opposing Chinese Forces at Niislel Khüree (Ulaanbaatar) and the establishment of the First Republic of Mongolia in 1921 AD.
Since October 29, 1924, the name of the settlement in the Tuul River Valley has been known as Ulaanbaatar, meaning "Red Hero". With this the current name reflects the 70-year period of Russian-dominated 'revolutionary' government in Mongolia which ended with the Democratic Revolution in Mongolia (Mongolian: Ардчилсан хувьсгал, Ardchilsan Khuvĭsgal, Democratic Revolution) in the year 1990 AD Eversince, Ulaanbataar has been the seat of the Mongolian Parliament and the Capital of a new Democratic Republic of Mongolia.

Urbanization, i.e. the erection of buildings in Ulaanbataar only began in earnest after World War 2. At the conclusion of the war, Mongolia fell decisively within the influence sphere of its larger and powerful neighbor, the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.) which had long regarded the Republic of Mongolia as its satellite and began building Mongolia and its Capital Ulaanbataar up as a base for Soviet Influence. It is reported that the urban planning of the current city of Ulaanbataar started in the 1950's during the flowering period of Sino-Soviet relations. In 1956 AD, with the completion of the Trans-Mongolian Railway as a side-branch of the all important Trans-Siberian Railroad the city received further economic impetus and an influx of Soviet soldiers and engineers. As a result, much of today's city has been built between the years 1960 AD and 1985 AD during the Soviet Era.

The latest episode in the growth of the city of Ulaanbataar seems to have come with the dawn of Democracy in Mongolia in 1990 and a subsequent string of economic discoveries and windfalls for the nation. Although the first wave of new city migrants arrived after the devastating Dzud of 1990 -killing 100's of thousands of lifestock all over Mongolia- the current growth of the city is being sustained by a nationwide mining boom and resulting economic affluence. Although wealth is not yet a realistic option or goal for most citizens and dwellers of Ulaanbataar, the success and importance of the city is bound to attract more Mongolians and Foreign migrants in the near future.

To find out more information on the history of Ulaanbaatar, go to: ′History of Mongolia and the Republic of Mongolia′.
There is no information available on life in current Ulan Bator in Mongolia.
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