Huge and beautiful country with so few people it’s 99.7% empty named best holiday destination

By Staff

The nation covers more than 600,000 square miles and features stunning national parks, with visitors getting the chance to spend time with desert nomads

A vast, incredibly sparsely populated country is 99.7% empty but has plenty to see and has been tipped as the best nation to visit this year.

Mongolia is a landlocked country mainly covered by great tracts of grasslands and semi-desert areas. In the past, the nation was the centre of a vast empire led by Genghis Khan, which extended far into Western Europe.

At its peak, it covered some nine million square miles (23 million square km) of territory, making it the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Today the enormous country is just 603,000 square miles – tiny in comparison but still a vast area. It has a population of just 3.3million, which is less than the number of people living in Berlin, giving it a population density of just two people per kilometre. It is roughly a third emptier than the next less densely populated sovereign countries in the world – Australia and Namibia.

Close to half of the population is based in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, making it one of the most centralised countries in the world, while about 40% of the workforce are nomads who herd animals in the grasslands.

It is the largest landlocked country in the world without any access to the sea or any large bodies of water, which is a large part of the reason why it’s so empty. Another is the brutal weather patterns it is subject to, including dry, very cold fronts that come down from Siberia and ensure that winters in Mongolia are brutal. If the capital city – the coldest in the world – is discounted, then Mongolia has a population density of 0.1 people per kilometre.

In the summer, Mongolia becomes incredibly hot and is often hit by sweltering temperatures of 40C. Due to the mountains which surround it, it is one of the countries with the most clear, sunny days in the world. It may not seem the most obvious place for a holiday, but it is quickly gaining a reputation as a great destination. Lonely Planet tipped Mongolia as the best nation to visit this year, in a poll put together by its travel experts to mark 50 years in print.

“For seekers of wide-open spaces, adventures and culture, the capital is teeming with people and unique attractions. Squeezed between Russia and China, Mongolia seems hard to reach given recent geopolitical events in its two large neighbours. But Mongolia’s doors are open and a tourism campaign has eased visa restrictions through 2025,” Lonely Planet writes in its rankings.

Sitting beneath Russia and to the east of Kazakhstan, Mongolia is both massive and a long schlep away for European travellers. Most flights from the UK stop off in Istanbul and take around 15 hours to get to Ulaanbaatar. A return economy is likely to cost you around £1,000, so it’s far from cheap break material. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go.

The enormous Altai Tavan Bogd National Park is one of the most breathtaking and almost alarmingly big places you can visit, stretching thousands of square miles and containing dizzyingly large plains and towering mountains. If you are looking for somewhere to put everything into a little context, this is probably it.

If you sign up to a tour of the country or visit as part of a holiday package, you might have the chance to experience some delights very specific to Mongolia, such as spending a night in a ger with a nomad family, cheering on Mongolian wrestlers in the open fields, or witnessing double-humped camels racing across the desert sands. If the countryside is massive and sprawling, then Ulaanbaatar is intense and tightly packed, “an industrialised city of pulsating commerce, wild traffic, sinful nightlife and bohemian counterculture,” according to Lonely Planet.

Check out more of Daily Mirror’s latest travel stories by signing up to our free weekly newsletter.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *