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The Mongolian language is spoken by around 6 million people, forming more or less homogeneous population clusters in Mongolia, China and Russia. The dialects spoken by these groups naturally vary considerably, but these differences do not call into question the deep-rooted common identity. The same applies to culture, with the affirmation of a "Mongolness" that has resisted dispersion and political divisions, but also the passage of time.
Poursuite des juments pour les capturer.
Poursuite des juments pour les capturer. © Charlotte Marchina‎

Discovering the language

The numerical importance of each group varies greatly. Outside Mongolia, Mongolian-speaking populations are generally very much in the minority, even in territorial units where their autonomy and language are officially recognized.

Mongolia: Mongolian is the official national language of Mongolia (Mongol uls, capital Ulaanbaatar), population approx. 3.3 million. As the only state with an official Mongolian language, it is naturally the main focus of education.

Mongolian settlement extends over a continuous area bordering both China and Siberia, with Mongolian islands scattered across the great pastoral and nomadic steppe zone from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea.

China: China's Mongols, numbering around 3.5 million, live mainly (nearly 3 million) in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (Öbör mongol öörtöö zasag oron, Nei Menggu zizhiju), capital Khöke khoto (Xöx xot), as well as in the bordering provinces of Northeast China (Heilongjiang, Jilin), North China (Hebei) and Northwest China (Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang)

Russia : At the northern limits of Mongolia, the Buryats (approx. 350,000) combine their Mongolian identity with numerous exchanges with Turkic and Siberian peoples. Their main region is the Buryat Autonomous Republic, capital Ulan-Ude, to the east of Lake Baikal, but they are also present to the west of the lake, in two National Arrondissements. On the western bank of the lower Volga, the Kalmyks (approx. 150,000) live in the Kalmykia Autonomous Republic, capital Elista. Originally from western Mongolia, they emigrated to the West in the first half of the 17th century. During the turmoil of the 20th century (Russian Revolution and Civil War, two World Wars), some of the Kalmyks continued their migration further west (Turkey, Czechoslovakia, France, the United States...).

Some of the Kalmykies are still living in the autonomous republic of Elista.

For more information on the Mongolian master's degree, please contact Ms Charlotte Marchina, head of the Mongolian section.