Mongolia is chiefly a region of desert and of steppe plateau from c.3,000 to 5,000 ft (910–1,520 m) high. Winters are cold and dry and summers are warm and brief. The Gobi desert, which is entirely wasteland, is in the central section. To the west are the Altai Mts., which rise to 15,266 ft (4,653 m). Rivers include a section of the Huang He (Yellow River) in the south and the Selenga, Orkhon, and Kerulen in the north. Rainfall averages less than 15 in. (38.1 cm) a year.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.