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In pictures: Scenes from Mongolia
The resource-heavy central Asian nation is in the spotlight as parliamentary election exposes corruption allegations.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2012 19:12

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - International attention turned towards this central-Asian nation this week, as the country headed to the polls to elect a new parliament. Mongolia, the size of western Europe, is rarely in the headlines, but is increasingly becoming the focus of industrialists eager to benefit from the country's vast mineral reserves.

It has the fastest-growing economy of any country in the world - with GDP increasing 17.3 per cent in 2011, according to the World Bank, and with known mineral deposits estimated to be valued at around $1.3tn.


Corruption fears high before Mongolian election

Yet, despite this abundance of natural wealth, some 30 per cent of Mongolia's 2.9 million people live below the poverty line.

Many point to a perception of rampant greed and corruption on the part of officials, with Transparency International placing the country 120th of 183 nations on its corruption perception index - joint with Iran and Ethiopia, among others.

Public pressure has forced the government to consider placing restrictions on how much of a stake outside companies can have in Mongolia. That has led to nervous investors. A case in point came this week, as shares in Mongolia Mining Corporation, the nation's biggest coking coal exporter, slumped to a record low following speculation that investment rules would be tightened after the elections.

But the country's president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, says he prefers to leave investment issues as they are, and focus instead on tackling the widespread corruption within the government. The this end, he has beefed up the powers of the agency responsible, the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC).

Since its inception six years ago, IAAC officials say they've gathered evidence on more than 600 politicians and civil servants - including former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar, who has dubbed the campaign against him "political persecution".

Al Jazeera's Steve Chao was in Mongolia for the poll, and captured scenes from the city and the steppe.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Nambaryn Enkhbayar, a former president of Mongolia, is shrouded in controversy. Is he a valiant defender of democracy, or a corrupt official?


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Horses were first domesticated in this part of the world, making Mongolians herders the original "cowboys".


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Every year several people die in the coal mines of Nalaikh, Mongolia. But feeling left out of the country's resource boom, the miners here say they have little choice but to risk their lives.


Matt Allard/Al Jazeera
A massive statue of Genghis Khan, several stories high, stands guard over the grasslands outside Ulaanbaatar. Needless to say, Mongolia's "Great Conquerer" is revered here.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Using satellite dishes and solar power, families living in gers (structures similar to yurts) in the grasslands now enjoy some "modern" comforts - hundreds of miles from any industrialised town.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
A child makes a trip to a water station in a slum that encircles the city of Ulaanbaatar. There is little running water, and few sanitation facilities in these communities.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Nomadic herders, Mongolians have for centuries tended to their livestock. But as in other parts of the world, many are trading the rural lifestyle for an urban one. Many of Mongolia's next generation are leaving this way of life altogether


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
The slow-paced nomadic life on the plains of Mongolia is fast disappearing. While the horse continues to be revered as the national symbol, they are fast being replaced by motorised vehicles.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
More than a million Mongolians have abandoned the traditional lifetyle and moved into the only real city in the country, Ulaanbaatar. While gers still dot parts of the hillsides around the capital, many are being replaced by makeshift homes.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Sarantuyaa prepares a fire in the family ger. She's lived all her life in Mongolia's vast grasslands, but her two sons have left for the city, and believes her two remaining children will also soon give up this traditional life.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Modern amenities and western culture are fast becoming a part of traditional life in Mongolia.


Steve Chao/Al Jazeera
Election posters posted by political parties carry campaign slogans promising to "sweep" away corruption. Transparency International ranks Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on the corruption scale


Al Jazeera English/
Despite his intimidating exterior, rapper "Gee" says his lyrics - full of slurs and hatred directed at foreigners and corrupt officials†- are only meant to make Mongolians think.


Follow Steve Chao on Twitter: @SteveChaoSC


images:
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captions:
Nambaryn Enkhbayar, a former president of Mongolia, is shrouded in controversy. Is he a valiant defender of democracy, or a corrupt official?;*;Horses were first domesticated in this part of the world, making Mongolians herders the original "cowboys".;*;Every year several people die in the coal mines of Nalaikh, Mongolia. But feeling left out of the country(***)s resource boom, the miners here say they have little choice but to risk their lives.;*;A massive statue of Genghis Khan, several stories high, stands guard over the grasslands outside Ulaanbaatar. Needless to say, Mongolia(***)s "Great Conquerer" is revered here.;*;Using satellite dishes and solar power, families living in gers (structures similar to yurts) in the grasslands now enjoy some "modern" comforts - hundreds of miles from any industrialised town.;*;A child makes a trip to a water station in a slum that encircles the city of Ulaanbaatar. There is little running water, and few sanitation facilities in these communities.;*;Nomadic herders, Mongolians have for centuries tended to their livestock. But as in other parts of the world, many are trading the rural lifestyle for an urban one. Many of Mongolia\(***)s next generation are leaving this way of life altogether;*;The slow-paced nomadic life on the plains of Mongolia is fast disappearing. While the horse continues to be revered as the national symbol, they are fast being replaced by motorised vehicles. ;*;More than a million Mongolians have abandoned the traditional lifetyle and moved into the only real city in the country, Ulaanbaatar. While gers still dot parts of the hillsides around the capital, many are being replaced by makeshift homes.;*;Sarantuyaa prepares a fire in the family ger. She(***)s lived all her life in Mongolia(***)s vast grasslands, but her two sons have left for the city, and believes her two remaining children will also soon give up this traditional life.;*;Modern amenities and western culture are fast becoming a part of traditional life in Mongolia.;*;Election posters posted by political parties carry campaign slogans promising to "sweep" away corruption. Transparency International ranks Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on the corruption scale;*;Despite his intimidating exterior, rapper "Gee" says his lyrics - full of slurs and hatred directed at foreigners and corrupt officials†- are only meant to make Mongolians think. Daylife ID:
1340879696327
Photographer:
Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Matt Allard;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Steve Chao;*;Al Jazeera English
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
In pictures: Scenes from Mongoliahttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongoliaen-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Thu, 28 Jun 2012 10:34:57 GMTFri, 29 Jun 2012 18:41:44 GMT http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0cMBfkicCbdEaNambaryn Enkhbayar, a former president of Mongolia, is shrouded in controversy. Is he a valiant defender of democracy, or a corrupt official? Results of the upcoming elections are seen as a public opinion poll on his guilt or innocence.Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:50:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0cMBfkicCbdEaSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesNambaryn Enkhbayar, a former president of Mongolia, is shrouded in controversy. Is he a valiant defender of democracy, or a corrupt official? Results of the upcoming elections are seen as a public opinion poll on his guilt or innocence. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=065w6u38BGdIIHorses were first domesticated in this part of the world. And Mongolians therefore are considered the original "Cowboys"Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:13:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=065w6u38BGdIISteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesHorses were first domesticated in this part of the world. And Mongolians therefore are considered the original "Cowboys" http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=09xT3Cv5DD5a7Every year several people die in the illegal coal mines of Nalaikh, Mongolia. But feeling left out of the country's resource boom, the miners here say they have little choice but to risk their lives. Mongolia's vast mineral wealth has the potential to pull many of its 2.9 million population out of povertyThu, 28 Jun 2012 12:14:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=09xT3Cv5DD5a7Steve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesEvery year several people die in the illegal coal mines of Nalaikh, Mongolia. But feeling left out of the country's resource boom, the miners here say they have little choice but to risk their lives. Mongolia's vast mineral wealth has the potential to pull many of its 2.9 million population out of poverty http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ciS46WflOfhSA massive statue of Genghis Khan, several stories high, stands guard over the grasslands outside Ulaanbaatar. Needless to say, Mongolia's "Great Conquerer' is revered here.Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ciS46WflOfhSMatt AllardAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA massive statue of Genghis Khan, several stories high, stands guard over the grasslands outside Ulaanbaatar. Needless to say, Mongolia's "Great Conquerer' is revered here. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0auEglY2k6bbqUsing satellite dishes and solar power, families living in Gers in the grasslands now enjoy some "modern" comforts - hundreds of kilometres from any form of civilization.Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:18:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0auEglY2k6bbqSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesUsing satellite dishes and solar power, families living in Gers in the grasslands now enjoy some "modern" comforts - hundreds of kilometres from any form of civilization. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=048aajK7cjddtA child makes a trip to a ‚??water‚?? station in a slum area that encircles the city of Ulaanbaatar. There is little running water, and little sanitation in these communities. Roads are made of dirt. Despite posting the fastest growing economy last year (GDP grew 17.3% in 2011 ‚?? World Bank), one in three Mongolians continue to live in poverty. Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:48:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=048aajK7cjddtSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA child makes a trip to a ‚??water‚?? station in a slum area that encircles the city of Ulaanbaatar. There is little running water, and little sanitation in these communities. Roads are made of dirt. Despite posting the fastest growing economy last year (GDP grew 17.3% in 2011 ‚?? World Bank), one in three Mongolians continue to live in poverty. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=02Sv3Ej3E91RQNomadic herders, Mongolians have for centuries tended to their livestock. But as in other parts of the world, many are trading the rural lifestyle for an urban one. Many of Mongolia's next generation are leaving this way of life altogetherThu, 28 Jun 2012 12:35:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=02Sv3Ej3E91RQSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesNomadic herders, Mongolians have for centuries tended to their livestock. But as in other parts of the world, many are trading the rural lifestyle for an urban one. Many of Mongolia's next generation are leaving this way of life altogether http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=01ErdVl8auePp

The slow-paced nomadic life on the plains of Mongolia is fast disappearing. While the horse continues to be revered as the national symbol, they are fast being replaced by motorised vehicles.

Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=01ErdVl8auePpSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images

The slow-paced nomadic life on the plains of Mongolia is fast disappearing. While the horse continues to be revered as the national symbol, they are fast being replaced by motorised vehicles.

http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0blkfAb1eHeL2Once nomadic herders, in recent years, more than a million Mongolians have moved into the only real city in the country, Ulaanbaatar. While Gers still dot parts of the hillsides around the capital, many are being replaced by makeshift homes.Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:15:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0blkfAb1eHeL2Steve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesOnce nomadic herders, in recent years, more than a million Mongolians have moved into the only real city in the country, Ulaanbaatar. While Gers still dot parts of the hillsides around the capital, many are being replaced by makeshift homes. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ffxdHBaIbeKCSarantuyaa prepares a fire in the family Ger. She's lived all her life in Mongolia's vast grasslands. But in recent times, she's watched two sons leave for the city, and believes her two remaining children will also soon give up this traditional life.Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ffxdHBaIbeKCSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesSarantuyaa prepares a fire in the family Ger. She's lived all her life in Mongolia's vast grasslands. But in recent times, she's watched two sons leave for the city, and believes her two remaining children will also soon give up this traditional life. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=006Ad1ed43376Modern amenities and western culture are fast becoming a part of traditional life in Mongolia.Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=006Ad1ed43376Steve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesModern amenities and western culture are fast becoming a part of traditional life in Mongolia. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ePjdAK4QM1NPElection posters posted by political parties carry campaign slogans promising to ‚??sweep‚?? away corruption. Transparency International ranks Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on the corruption scaleThu, 28 Jun 2012 12:16:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ePjdAK4QM1NPSteve ChaoAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesElection posters posted by political parties carry campaign slogans promising to ‚??sweep‚?? away corruption. Transparency International ranks Mongolia 120th out of 183 nations on the corruption scale http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ffx3EreB85Uf

Despite his intimidating exterior, rapper “Gee” says his lyrics - full of slurs and hatred directed at foreigners and corrupt officials - are only meant to make Mongolians think.

Mon, 25 Jun 2012 15:59:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/Mongolia?image_id=0ffx3EreB85UfAl Jazeera EnglishAl Jazeera Upload Images

Despite his intimidating exterior, rapper “Gee” says his lyrics - full of slurs and hatred directed at foreigners and corrupt officials - are only meant to make Mongolians think.



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