In 2009, I traveled to Mongolia with my friend and co-reporter Daisy Sindelar to do some research on the relatively peaceful democratic development of this former Soviet satellite. We ate horse meat, drank camel’s milk, and gambled with anklebones, and I produced these two short videos.
Since Mongolia shook off communism and Soviet influence in 1990, it has struggled to assert its independence from its powerful neighbors, Russia and China. Mongolia’s search for a new national identity has found a focus in one historical figure: the 13th century conqueror Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan).
Mongolia is home to one of the world’s few remaining nomadic cultures, with some 40 percent of the population raising animals on the steppes. But economic and social changes are forcing many Mongolians to leave their traditional ways behind. Migrants are arriving in the cities by the thousands, while others have turned to the booming mining industry in search of a better life.