Mongolia is a rich land which comprises mountains, forest, steppes, desert, lakes and rivers. Its peculiar variety of scenery makes Mongolia one of the top destinations in Asia.
It is the 18th largest country in the world, stretching a total of 1,564,116 square kilometers. The highest point of Mongolia is at 4374 m (14,350 ft) in the western Mongolia, whereas the lowest point is 518 m (1699 ft) in the eastern Mongolia. The average elevation of Mongolia is 1580 m (5180 ft).
The desert (Gobi)
The desert terrain involves the entire south part of Mongolia. The Gobi is known as the second largest desert in the world behind Sahara. Frankly, it features rather diverse landscape and scenery. Mongolian Gobi desert incorporates ancient sea beds, clay and red sandstone rock formations, sand dunes, green pastures, and mountain ranges. Despite its lack of grass, the Gobi provides just enough grazing for domestic animals like goats and camels as well as wild animals like wild camel (Khavtgai), Ibex, wild sheep (Argali), snow leopard, antelopes, and the Gobi bear (Mazaalai).
The mountainous area
Mongolia has two major mountain ranges: the Altai and the Khangai.
The Altai mountain range extends over 600 km from the very west to the southeast regions of the country. It features the highest peak of Mongolia, Khuiten at 4374 meters above sea level.
The Khangai mountain range dominates the entire central Mongolian region, stretching over 700 km in the provinces of Ovorkhangai, Arkhangai, Zavkhan, and Bayankhongor. Unlike Altai, the Khangai features more older forested mountains with alpine pastures. The highest peak of the Khangai mountains is Otgontenger, elevated at 4031 meters above sea level.
There are two other minor mountain ranges such as the Khentii mountain range in the eastern and Soyon mountains in the northern regions of Mongolia.
The steppes mainly dominate eastern Mongolia, and stretches west through southern part of Khangai mountains in central Mongolia all the way up to the Great lake basin of Uvs province.The eastern Mongolian steppes are home to the largest remaining intact temperate grasslands of the Earth. Its ecosystem is characterized by treeless flat steppes, gently rolling hills, wetlands, and inter linkages with the Khyangan Mountain Range all the way to the border with the People’s Republic of China.
The rivers and lakes
Despite its extreme climate and aridity, Mongolia has an abundant water source both on the surface and under the ground. There are over 4000 rivers and 25 lakes in Mongolia. The longest river is Orkhon(1120km) which flows out from Khangai mountain ranges into Selenge river, and eventually to Lake Baikal. The biggest lake in Mongolia in terms of area is Uvs. It is a saline lake whose area equals to 3350 square kilometers. The biggest freshwater lake in Mongolia is Khuvsgul whose area is 2760 square km, length is 136 km, and depth is 262 m. Mongolian lakes and rivers have number of fishes such as the Altai or Khuvsgul grayling, the taimen, Amur pike, lenok, and the brown-trout. The Mongolian lakes and rivers are frozen in winter, and serve as road. The level of water increases during summer or spring due to snow melt and increased amount of precipitation.
The forest zone only covers 11 percent of the total area of Mongolia. The Mongolian forested area has the following trees: birch, pine, aspen, elm, spruce, silver-fir, larch, needle, and saxaul.