Mongolian History Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1206-63 – Following unification of the Mongol tribes, Genghis Khan launches a campaign of conquest. His sons and grandsons create the world’s biggest land empire.

1267-1368 – Weakened by disunity, the empire implodes. Ming troops oust the Mongols from Dadu (Beijing).

1380 – The Golden Horde is defeated by the Russian Prince Dmitriy Donskoy. Ming troops destroy the Mongol capital Karakorum.

Former president Ochirbat
Former Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party member
Mongolia’s first directly-elected president
Left office in 1997

Manchu rule

1636 – The Manchu (Qing) empire conquers the southern Mongols, creating Inner Mongolia.

1691 – The Qing empire offers protection to the northern Mongols, creating Outer Mongolia.

1727 – The Treaty of Kyakhta fixes the western border between the Russian and Manchu empires, confirming Qing dominion over Mongolia and Tuva.

First Soviet satellite state

1911 – The Qing dynasty falls and Outer Mongolia declares its independence. Russia and the Republic of China recognise its autonomy.

1919 – The Chinese army occupies Outer Mongolia.

Genghis Kahn
Mongol warrior built a vast 13th century empire
Mention of his name was outlawed under communist rule

Mongolian revolutionaries found the Mongolian People’s Party and open contact with Bolsheviks in Siberia.

1921 – With Red Army support, Mongolian revolutionaries drive out Chinese and Tsarist forces and install the Mongolian “people’s government”.

1924 – The People’s Party chooses Lenin’s “road to socialism bypassing capitalism” and renames itself the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP). The Mongolian People’s Republic is proclaimed.


1928-32 – “Rightists” who want private enterprise are ousted. “Leftists” who want communes are ousted. A “counter-revolutionary uprising” against the confiscation of monastery property is suppressed.

Gandan Monastery
Contains several temples adorned with jewels
Survived Stalinist religious purges of 1930s
Religious freedom restored in 1990

1937 – Mongolian Prime Minister Genden is arrested in the USSR and shot for spying for Japan. The Minister of War Marshal Demid is poisoned aboard a Trans-Siberian train. Monasteries are destroyed and lamas murdered.

1939 – Mongolian and Soviet troops commanded by General Zhukov defeat an invasion by Japanese and Manchukuo forces in the Battle of Halhyn Gol (Nomonhan).

1939 – “Mongolia’s Stalin”, the Minister of Internal Affairs and new Minister of War Choybalsan, is appointed prime minister. Ex-Prime Minister Amar is tried in the USSR and shot for spying for Japan.

International recognition

1945-46 – Yalta conference agrees to preserve the status quo (i.e. Soviet control) in Mongolia. Mongolians vote for independence in a UN plebiscite. Mongolia is recognised by the Republic of China.

1949-55 – Relations established with the People’s Republic of China. Railway built across Mongolia linking Russia and China.

1952 – Choybalsan dies, and is replaced as prime minister by Tsedenbal, the MPRP general secretary since 1940.

1961-63 – UN Security Council approves Mongolia’s UN membership. Diplomatic relations established with the UK.

Soviet buffer against China

1966 – Soviet Communist Party General-Secretary Brezhnev signs a friendship treaty in Ulan Bator allowing secret stationing of Soviet troops in Mongolia.

Ulan Bator skyline
Founded in 17th century
Ulan Bator translates as ‘Red Hero’
Situated on Tuul river

1973-81 – Mongolia accuses China of planning annexation, protests against Chinese leaders’ call for withdrawal of Soviet troops, accuses China of “aggressive intentions” and expels some Chinese residents.

1984 – “Mongolia’s Brezhnev”, party General-Secretary Tsedenbal, head of state since 1974, is forced out of office by the MPRP Politburo.

1986 – Gorbachev’s Vladivostok speech opens the way to detente with China and the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Mongolia.


1990 – Street demonstrations force resignation of the MPRP Politburo. Political parties are legalised. Elections to the Great Hural (parliament) are won by the MPRP, but 19 of the 50 seats in a new standing legislature go to non-communists.

1992 – Mongolia’s new constitution gives first place to human rights and freedoms. In the first democratic elections the MPRP wins 71 of the 76 seats in the new single-chamber Great Hural.

1993 – The first direct presidential elections are won by Ochirbat, nominated by the National and Social Democrats.

1996 – The National and Social Democrats win 50 seats in the Great Hural elections, but the MPRP can deny a quorum, hindering passage of legislation.

1997 – MPRP candidate Bagabandi wins presidential election.

2000 – After the democrats form three new governments in two years the MPRP wins 72 seats in the Great Hural elections. The National and Social Democrats and three other parties form a new Democratic Party.

President Bagabandi and his wife
Bagabandi (left) promised to tackle rampant corruption
Elected 1997, re-elected in 2001
A Buddhist, educated in former Soviet Union

2001 February – UN launches appeal for $8.7m (£6m) to support herders suffering in worst winter conditions in more than 50 years.

2001 May – President Bagabandi re-elected.

2001 October – IMF approves nearly $40 million in low-interest loans over next three years to help tackle poverty and boost economic growth.

2002 November – Dalai Lama visits. China denounces trip and warns Mongolian leaders not to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader.

2003 July – It is announced that 200 soldiers will be sent to Iraq to contribute to peacekeeping.

2004 January – Russia writes off all but $300 million of Mongolia’s debts.

2004 June-August – Parliamentary elections, in which the opposition performs strongly, result in political deadlock over contested results. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj is eventually appointed as prime minister following power-sharing deal.