Once the center of an empire stretching from Asia to Europe under Genghis Khan, Mongolia is a landlocked country in Central Asia dominated by sparsely populated steppe and semi-desert. A third of the population lives in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, while another 40% are nomadic, herding livestock in the extensive grasslands.
In the late 12th century, a chieftain named Temüjin succeeded in uniting the Mongol tribes between Manchuria and the Altai Mountains, and took the title Genghis Khan. He waged a series of brutal and fierce military campaigns conquering much of Asia, and forming the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in world history.
The majority of the population are Buddhists, and horse culture is still an integral part of their society. Mongolian cuisine is rooted in their nomadic history, with dairy and meat featuring prominently, with few vegetables. Two of the most popular dishes are Buuz (a meat-filled steamed dumpling) and Khuushuur (a deep-fried meat pie).