Located in the plateau of Central Asia between China and Russian Siberia, Mongolia covers an area of 1,566,500 sq.km, which is roughly the size of Western Europe. Mongolia stretches about 2,400 kilometers from west to east and about 1,260 kilometers from north to south. The total length of the country’s border is 8,158 kilometers.
The country in mountainous with an average altitude of 1,580 meters above sea level, which makes Mongolia one of the highest countries in the world. The lowest point, Huh Nuur Depression, is 560 meters above sea level and the highest point is Huiten Mountain in the Mongolian Altai Range (4,374 m). The capital Ulaanbaatar lies at 1,380 meters.
The geography of the country is characterized by great diversity. From north to south, it can be divided into four areas: mountain-forest steppe, mountain steppe and, in the extreme south, semi-desert and desert (the latter being about 30% of the entire territory). In contrast to most visitors’ expectations, much of the country’s territory is mountainous. The principal mountains are concentrated in the west, with much of this region having elevations above 2,000 meters. The country’s highest peaks are permanently snow-capped land covered with glaciers.
Mountains and dense forest predominate central and northern Mongolia. The grasslands cover large areas of this region. Across the eastern part of the country stretches the vast grasslands of the Central Asian steppe. The steppe grades into the Gobi desert, which extends throughout southern Mongolia from the east to the west of the country. The Gobi Desert is mostly gravely, but also contains large areas of sand dunes in the drier areas of the Gobi near the southern border.
The country is dotted with hundreds of lakes, the largest being Uvs-Nuur (covering an area of 3,350 sq.km), Huvsgul (2,620 sq.km), and Har Us-Nuur (1,852 sq.km). Lake Huvsgul is also the largest fresh-water lake in Central Asia. The Orhon (1,124 kilometers), the Herlen (1,090 kilometers) and the Selenge (539 kilometers) are the largest rivers.