Member of any of the various Mongol (or Mongolian) ethnic groups of central Asia. Mongols live in Mongolia, Russia, Inner Mongolia (China), Tibet, and Nepal. The Mongol language belongs to the Altaic family, although some groups of Mongol descent speak languages in the Sino-Tibetan family.
The Mongols are primarily pastoral nomads, herding sheep, horses, cattle, and camels. Traditionally they moved with their animals in summer to the higher pastures, returning in winter to the lower steppes. The government of Mongolia now encourages more sedentary forms of pastoralism, and winter quarters are often more permanent. About 60% of the Mongolian population live in felt-covered domed tents known as yurts. Many Mongols are Buddhists.
History In the early 13th century, united under Genghis Khan, the Mongols from 1206 to 1226 conquered central Asia, attacked Eastern Europe and established the Mongolian Empire, a rather loosely constructed federation of tribal groups. Divided by his sons at his death, the empire fragmented in the 14th century into separate chiefdoms. His son Ogotai overcame the Chin and Sung dynasties of China in 1234. Batu, another son, occupied Russia, parts of Hungary, and Georgia and Armenia, establishing the Kipchak Empire and other khanates. Hulagu, a grandson, conquered Baghdad and Syria; another grandson, Kublai Khan, was the first emperor of the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) in China.
Golden Horde The western Kipchaks, known as the Golden Horde, declined in influence until they were united, under Toktamish in 1378, with the eastern Kipchaks, or White Horde. Shortly after, Toktamish fought against Tamerlane, a Mongolian chieftain who had conquered Samarkand in 1369. By the 18th century the Manchu dynasty of China overcame the Mongolian groups of central Asia. This dynasty collapsed in 1911, and the Mongols rose in rebellion, obtained autonomy, and formed a Soviet-modelled republic in 1924. Since World War II there has been considerable industrial development in the area, and the traditional Mahāyāna Buddhist beliefs have waned.
Mongol Empire: Expansion
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