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Mongolia is a landlocked country in east-central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. While they do not share a border, Mongolia is separated from Kazakhstan by only 36.76 kilometers (22.84 mi). Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city, is home to about 45% of the population.

Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic. Various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the Turkic Khaganate, and others, have ruled the area of what is now Mongolia.

The earliest evidence of Islam in Mongolia is dated to 1254, when the Franciscan William of Rubruck visited the court of the great khan Mongka at Karakorum. He celebrated Easter at a Nestorian Christian church but also noted seven temples of the "idolators" (possibly Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist temples) and two mosques.


Therefore, historians date the arrival of Islam to Mongolia to between 1222 and 1254. Islam also gained the notice of the Mongols after Genghis Khan invaded Afghanistan. In 1222, on his way back to Mongolia, he visited Bukhara in Transoxiana.

It was believed he inquired about Islam, and subsequently approved of Muslim tenets except the Hajj, considering it unnecessary. Nevertheless, he continued his worship of Tengri as his ancestors had done.

Because of historically high birth rates, the Muslim population in Mongolia increased between 1956 and 1989. However, there was a decline in the Muslim population in 1990-1993 due to the large wave of repatriation of ethnic Kazakhs (so-called oralmans) to Kazakhstan following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The Kazakhs of Bayan-Ölgii (88.7% of total aimag population) and Khovd (11.5% of total aimag population) aimag in western Mongolia mainly practise Islam in Mongolia. Some small Kazakh communities are in various cities and towns. The notable community is in the national capital Ulan Bator (Nalaikh düüreg), Tov and Selenge aimags and Darkhan city.

Islam is currently practiced predominately in the western portion of the country as well as in Mongolia's capital. Some of the major population centers with a significant Muslim presence include Ulan Bator, Tov and Selenge aimags, Erdenet, Darkhan, Bulgan, Sharyngol (17.1% of population total) and Berkh cities.

In Mongolia today, there is a significant minority of Sunni Muslims, constituting as much as 5% of the total population. Most of them are ethnic Kazaks who live primarily in the far western aimag of Bayan-Olgii (there is also a small Kazak community in and around Nalaikh, near Ulaanbaatar.


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