Religion in Mongolia has been traditionally dominated by two main religions, Buddhism and Shamanism, the ethnic religion of the Mongols. Historically, the Mongols were known to be very tolerant towards different religions. It is said at the court of the Mongol Khans, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Confucian, Shamans and other religious leaders used to sit and exchange ideas with one another. During the socialist period of the Mongolian People’s Republic (1924-1992) all religions were suppressed, and religious figures, intellectuals, and anyone who might be a threat to the communist party was killed or exiled. After the fall of communism in Mongolia and the emergence of parliamentary republic in the 1990’s, religious practices were revived in Mongolia.

Buddhism dominates the religious scene in Mongolia. Buddhists account for 47% of the population of the country. 39% of the population is not affiliated with any religion. Muslims and Christians represent 8% and 2% of the total population, respectively. 3% of the people of Mongolia adhere to the Mongol shamanic tradition. Followers of other religions make up 1% of the population of the country. The above figures are provided by the 2019 national census of Mongolia.


The Buddhism practiced in Mongolia is heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. Mongolians have been Buddhists since the 16th century, when the Mongolian king, Altan Khan, was converted by Tibetan lamas. Mongolians follow Tibetan Buddhist teachings, also called Lamaism, the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristics of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Traditionally, monasteries were centers both of learning and of power. It is estimated Mongolia had 100,000 monks, or lamas, in 1921 – one third of male population. In the 1930s, this power became the focus of a ruthless series of purges that reached a climax in 1937, when the political repression started. Over 700 monasteries were destroyed and as many as 17,000 monks were either killed or arrested. When Mongolia became democratic country in 1990, Buddhist religion was restored and people became free to practice any religion.

Today, Mongolia still embraces its Buddhist heritage. Monasteries are being restored, and are once again crowded with worshippers. The Dalai Lama is an enormously popular figure and has visited the country several times. For many Mongolians, the practice of Buddhism is flavored with traces of Shamanism, an even more ancient spirituality.


The Mongolian Shamanism refers to the indigenous folk religion of the people of Mongolia. It is the oldest religion practiced in the country. The polytheistic religion is associated with the worship of a number of gods or Tengri with one of them, the supreme deity, reigning above all others. Shamanism goes back in Mongolian history long before Genghis Khan’s time, but it was Genghis Khan that made it into such fundamental part of the Mongolian tradition. Genghis Khan is highly revered by the followers of this religion who worship his as one of the embodiments of the supreme God. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan serves as an important center of worship for believers of Mongolian Shamanism. Over the years, the religion has mingled with Buddhism to result in Yellow Shamanism. The type of Shamanism not influenced by Buddhism is known as Black Shamanism.

Though oppressed during communist time, Shamanism is still widely practiced in Mongolia, and people who seek help will approach a Shaman for a blessing or cure and even to get hints about future.

Mongolian classics, such as The Secret History of the Mongols, provide details about male and female shamans serving as exorcists, healers, rainmakers, necromancy, soothsayers, and officials. Shamanic practices continue in present-day Mongolian culture.

Other Religions

Mongolia also has a small Muslim community – about 8 percent of the population. These are mostly ethnic Kazakh people living in the west of the country. Christianity became popular in the country quite late in its long history. It was only after the end of the Communist rule in Mongolia in 1990 that the number of Christians in the country started growing. Other religions have a small presence in Mongolia.

Buddhism- Mongolians have followed Buddhism since the 16th century, when the Mongolian king, Altan Khan, was converted by Tibetan lamas. Mongolians follow Tibetan Buddhist teachings, (also called Lamaism), the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Today, Mongolia still embraces its Buddhist heritage. Monasteries are being restored, and are once again crowded with worshippers. The Dalai Lama is an enormously popular figure and has visited the country several times. For many Mongolians, the practice of Buddhism is flavored with traces of Shamanism, an even more ancient spirituality.

Other Religions- Mongolia also has a small Muslim community — about 6 per cent of the population. These are mostly ethnic Kazakhs living in the far west of the country.


The traditional garment of the Mongols, the deel, has a rich history spanning many centuries. It truly is one of the most convincing cultural indicators that defines the uniqueness of the Mongolian nation. The traditional clothing is well-adapted to the Mongolian environment and climate, and meets the various needs of life in the steppe and daily activities of pastoral nomads. "It is amazing how this nation invented clothes that can fit all seasons and needs, well thought off and used in many different ways" wrote Medieval travelers from Europe.

The deel is rich both in color and design. Every ethnic group has created and developed its own unique style, design and decorations, embodying specific features of their culture, origins and historic background.

Deel is a long, loose gown made of one piece of material with long sleeves. It has a high collar and widely overlaps at the front. Mongolian deel always closes on the wearer's right and traditionally have five fastenings. The deel is worn by both men and women, have the same cut, but men add a sash of contrasting colour around the waist.

There are basically three types of deels, each worn during a particular season. The "Dan Deel" is made of light, bright materials and is worn by women during the late spring and summer. The "Terleg" is a slightly more padded version for both men and women to wear. And the winter Deel has a woolen lining.

Via:Bayar Bulgantsetren


Mongolian food depends highly upon the nomadic way of life, animal husbandry and weather conditions. The foundation of the traditional Mongolian food is based on the animal products of nomadic herders raised in the Mongolian steppes – meat and milk. Mongolian foods are simple and full of variety of meat that includes mutton, beef, horse, even marmot. Those simple materials are processed with a variety of methods, and combined with vegetables and flour. The most common rural dish is cooked mutton, in the city, steamed dumplings filled with meat (buuz) are popular.

Mongolian people consume a lot of dairy products which are called “white food” and drink a lot of milk tea. Dairy products are mare's milk (airag), a thick layer of cream (urum), Mongolian butter, Dried curd (aaruul) and a soft kefir. Popular dishes include steamed meat dumplings (buuz), meat pastry (khuushuur), meat stew (khorkhog) and a sweet deep fried pastry (boortsog).


The Mongolian yurt, the ger, is part of the Mongolian national identity. The Secret History of the Mongols mentions Genghis Khan as the leader of all people who live in felt tents, called gers, and even today a large share of Mongolia's population lives in ger, even in the capital city Ulaanbaatar.

The word “ger” means one's place of residence in Mongolian. The ger is a wonderful cultural heritage of the Mongolian nation and is the basis of Mongolian architecture and craftsmanship created by the nomads. In 2013, the traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs were registered as a UNESCO cultural heritage and recognized as a unique and valuable heritage of mankind. Ger is a traditional eco-house of nomadic Mongolians, which is comfortable to live in and is made of natural materials. Ideally suited to Mongolia's harsh terrain and lifestyle, the ger has been perfected to meet the demands of nomad’s life.

Nomads need to move across the country in all four seasons, so ger that could be packed onto the back of their livestock were designed. The materials of the ger are lightweight that makes it easy for herders to transport it either on the back of a camel or on a yak pulled cart.

The average Mongolian ger is small but spacious enough to provide adequate living space for a family, is wind resistant and has good ventilation. Its key components are latticed wood walls (khana), the central support columns (uni) and a round opening in the center of the roof (toono).

Eighty eight separate wooden poles each measuring around 1.5 meters are used for the ger walls, with just two central columns supporting the entire structure. A lattice walls of narrow birch and willow laths is held together by leather strips. The sections are about 2 meters long and are bound together to form a large circular structure. The walls (khana) can have various sizes creating small gers with 3 walls to large gers with 10 walls, with six wall gers being the most popular size. Once the wooden walls (khana) are lashed together, it is covered with layers of felt and waterproof white canvas. The felt helps the ger retain heat and the canvas over it sheds the rain. The two central columns are the only things propping up the whole structure and no matter how many people are in ger no one ever leans against either of the support columns. This is considered very bad form. The ceiling formed from an umbrella-like framework of slender poles called uni, which are lashed to the khana on one end and slotted into the toono, a circular frame, at the top.  Because the toono is located at the top, fresh air regularly circulates through the ger as cold air flows down and hot air flows upward. Because the toono is located in the middle of the roof, the air coming through it reaches every part of the interior, providing fresh air for everyone regardless of where they are in the ger. A herder can easily tell what time of the day it is according to how the light comes through the toono. In the center of the toono is a small hole which allows the smoke from a metal stove to escape.

The door frame is a separate unit, which traditionally was a felt flap attached to the door frame, but most nomads now use a carved or painted wooden door. Due to winds mostly from North and Northwest, the door is always on the southern side facing the sun, providing light inside the ger.

The average ger is divided into three areas. There are male and female sections and khoimor area at the rear of the ger. The north is the place of honour, where valuable objects are stored, as well as a small Buddhist shrine and family photographs are displayed. This is the most important part of the ger and guests are often invited to sit at the khoimor. The west side of the ger is considered the man’s domain, where his saddle and bridles are stored, as well as a skin bag of airag (fermented mare’s milk), hanging from a wooden stand. Women traditionally have the eastern side of a ger, where food is prepared and kitchen utensils are stored, as well as their own and children’s belongings. The stove stands at the centre, its chimney passing through the roof. It is customary for a man entering a ger to step the western side and women to the east.