Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, with a total of 2.9 million people, of which 1 million live in Ulan Bator or Ulaanbaatar, the capital and largest city. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the country's 2.9 million people are nomadic or semi-nomadic.
The political and economic transition from Communism to Capitalism has marked the country since the Soviet Union collapsed the 1990s. It changed nearly every facet of Mongol life. Schools, factories, and communal farms closed or were privatized, while social services almost ceased to exist.
Drought and extreme harsh winters have lead to starvation in the countryside, driving many rural people to flee to urban areas for refuge. The harsh winter of 2009 / 2010 saw 4.5 million livestock die, 10 percent of the country’s livestock. This had grave consequences for an already impoverished country of which 50 percent of citizens make a living through herding.
Through the prospect of natural resources, Mongolia attracted the investment of many international companies. At this point it is unclear how much of the revenues will stay in the country or help rebuilding the country. What is known, the increasing industrializing of the country, through mining, will have a huge environmental impact, but will not create jobs for lower skills workers.
The percentage of Mongolians living in poverty (32%) has not diminished significantly in the last ten years, and the poverty gap is deepening.
The accepted estimated figure for Street Children is 3,000. Some estimates put it at 4,000 with around 400 sleeping on the streets all year round, despite temperatures in winter regularly dropping below minus 30ºC. To escape the cold many seek shelter in the city's underground sewers and heating systems, which made them known as “Man Hole Children”.