MONGOLIAN GEOGRAPHY

Mongolian natural zone 

Mongolia is one of the few countries, which possesses a great range of natural ecosystems within their borders. Mongolia is located at the junction of Siberian taiga and Central Asian prairie steppe and deserts, and therefore specific species of fauna and flora are included in the territory. Largely unknown to the rest of the world until recent years, Mongolia's unique combination of diverse landscapes, unspoiled habitat, and rare wild plant and animal species clear water and fresh air has started to attract international nature conservation organizations and has become the subject of growing international attention. Mongolia is divided into six basic natural zones, differing in climate, landscape, soil, flora and fauna.

HIGH MOUNTAIN ZONE
Mongolia is a mountainous country. Though the high mountain zone, which includes the higher elevations of these ranges, makes up only about 5 percent territory of Mongolia, average elevation of the country is quite high, at 5,184 feet (1,580 m.) above sea level. In the Far Western Altai, Khuiten Peak in the top parts of Tavan Bogda Mountains reaches 14,350 feet (4,374 m.), the highest point in the country. Altai, Khangai and Khentii mountain ranges and the Khuvsgul Mountains are higher than the height of forest zone. Many mountain areas of Mongolia show signs of previous Ice Ages, with U-shaped valleys and boulders left behind by retreating glaciers. The climate in the high mountain zone is extremely cold, and there is a short growing season. Located above tree line, the zone is characterized by tundra, alpine-sedge meadows, highland swamps, and lichen-covered boulder fields.

TAIGA (FOREST) ZONE
Taiga zone which covers 5 percent of Mongolian territory occurs only in northern Mongolia, where it is found in the Khentii Mountains, in the mountainous terrain around Lake Khuvsgul, back part of Tarvagatai mountain range, first higher place near Orkhon river and some parts of Khan Khukhii mountain range. The taiga zone experiences more precipitation (12 to 16 inches annually) and lower temperatures than most of Mongolia, therefore plant growing period is comparatively short. Stepping considerably affects the edge of Taiga zone and steppe elements penetrated to sides and along wide trenches of shorter mountains.
 

FOREST STEPPE ZONE
The forest steppe zone covers about 25 percent of the territory, and is one of the most heavily populated areas in Mongolia. The forest steppe zone occurs in the northern frontier of Central Asian prairie steppe and desert and southern frontier of Eastern Siberian forests Khentii, Khangai branch mountainous, the Mongolian Altai Mountains occurs in the eastern frontier, in the Orkhon and Selenge river basins, and in the Khyangan mountains. This zone is the real example of steppe and forests coexist in mountainous area and affect each other. Watershed of the world occurs in the zone and besides this, haphazard usage from the forests is dangerous for convicting the zone into mountainous steppe zone. Its pastures, wood, and water make it an important area for herders and their livestock.
 

STEPPE ZONE
Steppe covers nearly the entire far-eastern part of Mongolia, extending west in a narrowing band just south of the Khangai and Khan Khukhii Mountains all the way to the Depression of the Great Lakes. Mongolia's steppe lies in the eastern part of the vast plain that begins in Eastern Europe and reaches to the steppes of Manchuria. The steppe zone includes a distinctive group of flora and fauna. In the central and western areas of the country, the steppe provides many of the nation's most important grazing lands for domestic livestock. The steppe is vulnerable to impacts from overgrazing, agriculture, roads and other human activities.
 

DESERT STEPPE ZONE
Desert steppe occupies a large band, more than 20 percent of Mongolia's area, extending across the country between the steppe and desert zones. This zone includes the Depression of the Great Lakes, the Valley of the lakes, and most of the area between the Khangai and Altai mountain ranges, as well as the eastern Gobi area. The zone includes many low-lying areas, soils with salt pans, and small ponds. The climate is arid with frequent droughts and annual precipitation of 4-5 inches (100-125 mm.), and frequent strong winds and dust storms strongly influence the area vegetation. Still, many nomadic herders of Mongolia occupy this zone.
 

DESERT ZONE
The Gobi is one of the great deserts in the world, occupying much of southern Mongolia and northeastern China and composing the northern part of Central Asian deserts. Starkly beautiful, the expanses of the fabled Gobi are rugged and inhospitable. Vegetation is sparse here, and the zone displays a remarkable variety, from rocky mountain massifs to the flat pavement-like areas of the super-arid desert, from poplar-fringed oases to vast out wash plains and areas of sand dunes. These areas provide habitat for many threatened species of Mongolia, including the wild camel, Gobi bear, and wild ass. Climate is extreme. Precipitation may fall only once every two to three years and averages less than 4 inches (100 mm.) annually. Temperatures climb as high as 104° F (40° С) in summer, and fall as low as 104° F (-40° С) in winter. During the spring and fall, dangerously strong winds buffet the area with dust storms and wind-speeds up to 140 km/ hour.