Ulaanbaatar, which has an international airport, is the junction point of the country's major roads and caravan routes and lies on the Trans-Siberian RR, which links (since 1955) Russia with Beijing. The National Univ. of Mongolia (founded 1942) is the country's oldest university. In the center of the city is the Sühbaatar Square (with an equestrian statue of the Mongolian revolutionary leader for whom the city is named).
Founded in 1649 as a monastery town, Ulaanbaatar still preserves the monastery section, the former center of the city, and the residence of the Living Buddha, once Mongolia's spiritual leader. In the 1860s the town prospered as a commercial center on the tea route between Russia and China. There in 1911 autonomous Mongolia was first proclaimed. During the Russian civil war the city was (1921) the headquarters of the White army of Baron von Ungern-Sternberg. It was made capital of the Mongolian republic in 1924, when its name was changed from Urga [palace] to Ulaanbaatar. The city was developed with aid from the Soviet government, and the first industrial combine was established there in 1934. In the early 21st cent. the city experienced enormous population growth as former rural residents moved there.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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