At what time was Mongolia first discovered?

Travel Destinations

By Kristy Tolley

The Origins of Mongolia

The history of Mongolia dates back to the Paleolithic era, around 850,000 years ago. The region was inhabited by several nomadic tribes, including the Xiongnu and the Turks. The Mongol people, who would eventually give their name to the region, emerged in the 3rd century AD under the leadership of the legendary warrior, Bodonchar Munkhag. By the 13th century, the Mongol Empire had become the largest contiguous empire in the world, stretching from the Danube River in Europe to the Sea of Japan.

The Early Inhabitants of the Land

The earliest inhabitants of Mongolia were hunter-gatherer tribes who roamed the grasslands and forests of the region. Archaeological evidence suggests that these tribes lived in the area as far back as the Paleolithic era, and they were likely the ancestors of the Mongol people. Over time, other tribes migrated to the region, including the Xiongnu, who established a powerful empire in the 3rd century BC.

Traces of Civilization in Ancient Mongolia

Despite the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongol people, there is evidence of early civilizations in the region. The Xiongnu, for example, were skilled craftsmen and metalworkers, and they left behind sophisticated artifacts such as gold and silver jewelry, bronze mirrors, and iron weapons. The Turks, who arrived in the region in the 6th century AD, established a powerful empire that lasted for several centuries and left behind impressive ruins and artifacts.

The Rise of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan is perhaps the most famous of all the Mongol leaders, and his rise to power in the early 13th century marked the beginning of the Mongol Empire. Under his leadership, the Mongols conquered much of Asia and Eastern Europe, establishing a vast empire that lasted for over a century. Khan’s military genius and political skill were key to the success of the Mongol Empire, and his legacy is still felt in Mongolia today.

Contact with the Outside World

Despite its size and power, the Mongol Empire had relatively little contact with the outside world during its early years. This changed in the 13th century, when the Mongols began to trade with European merchants and diplomats, and even sent emissaries to the Pope in Rome. This contact with the outside world had a profound impact on Mongolian culture and society, introducing new ideas, religions, and technologies.

European Exploration of Mongolia

The first Europeans to travel to Mongolia were likely Russian traders and explorers in the early 17th century. They were followed by French and British diplomats in the 19th century, who were interested in establishing trade relations with the Mongolians. European influence in Mongolia continued to grow in the early 20th century, as the Russian empire expanded into the region.

Marco Polo and his Visit to Mongolia

Marco Polo, the famous Italian explorer and merchant, is said to have visited Mongolia in the 13th century, during the time of Genghis Khan. While there is some debate over whether or not Polo actually visited Mongolia, his accounts of the region and its people are still read and studied today.

The First Recorded European in Mongolia

The first recorded European to visit Mongolia was probably the Russian explorer Ivan Petlin, who traveled to the region in the early 17th century. He was followed by several other Russian explorers and traders, who established the first European settlements in Mongolia.

Discovery and Colonization of Mongolia

Mongolia was formally discovered by the European powers in the 19th century, as they began to explore and colonize Asia. The region was eventually incorporated into the Russian empire in the early 20th century, and was later invaded by Japan during World War II.

Modern Era Mongolia

Following World War II, Mongolia became a communist state under the influence of the Soviet Union. The country remained under Soviet control until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, after which Mongolia began a process of democratization and economic reform.

Mongolia Today

Today, Mongolia is a democratic country with a growing economy and a rich cultural heritage. The country is home to a number of museums, cultural events, and festivals, and is a popular destination for tourists from around the world.


Mongolia has a long and fascinating history, stretching back to the earliest days of human civilization. From the nomadic tribes of the Paleolithic era to the powerful Mongol Empire and beyond, the region has been shaped by a rich and diverse culture. Today, Mongolia is a thriving democratic nation, and its people continue to celebrate their unique heritage and traditions.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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