Ölgii is the capital of the province of Bayan-Ölgii. It’s located at the extreme West of Mongolia, at a height of 1710 metres (1,06 mile). The city has a population of approximately 29000 inhabitants, mainly with Kazakh roots. Kazakh is the first spoken language in Ölgii. The city provides four mosques and is known for its Kazakh music, embroideries and art, and of course for its Eagles Festival. A road connects Ulan Bator to Ölgii in approximately 60 hours, breaks included (real journey time, 48 hours). Ölgii has also a domestic airport that connects it to the capital with a 2.30 hours flight.
Before the foundation of the modern nation of Mongolia in 1911, Ölgii was a Kazakh village. Kazakhs came in the region of Mongolian Altai during at least 200 years. Many of them settled there because of the pressures imposed by the booming Russian Empire, and their number quickly increased after the Communist Revolution of 1917 and with the rise of communism in China. Ölgii was the centre of Islam in Mongolia until the religious purges of 1930, when the mosque was destroyed and the imam executed. First, Mongolia tried to delete the Kazakh language and culture, but then it created the province of Bayan-Ölgii in 1939, with Ölgii as administrative capital. Large part of the centre of the city was built from 1950 to 1980. Ölgii was less developed than the rest of the country, since it had no land connection (road or railway) because it was cut off and lacked materials.
After the democratic revolution of Mongolia in 1991 and the split of Soviet Union, 25 % of the population came back to live in Kazakhstan that had just acquired independence. Many of them came back later in Mongolia, that’s why Ölgii kept a good part of its population.
Since 2005, the city quickly developed and many new apartments, shops, restaurants and hotels were built.
Like many other post-communist cities, many factories closed in the 1990’s, but a bigwool factory and many other small factories bound to the pastoral activity go on treating dairy products. The province has two millions animals.
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