Mongolia is a land with remarkable variety of scenery. Eternally snow capped mountains, rising high above sea level, neighbor vast rolling steppe covered with highland plants and marshy coniferous forests contrasting with desert and semi desert and numerous clear water lakes.
Mongolia is a landlocked country between two large neighbors-Russian Federation and China. The total area is 1, 564, 116 square kilometer, nearly 6 times the size of the UK and more than 3 times of France. It is the 6th largest country in Asia and the 18th largest in the world. Mongolia has an average altitude of 1,580m above sea-level and mountains cover over 40% of Mongolian huge territory.
Western Mongolia is dominated by the Mongol Altai Mountains- permanently snow capped and glaciers. The highest point is the Huiten peak (4,374m) in the Tavan Bogd of Altai Mountains, where the Mongolian, Russian, and the Chinese borders meet. The lowest is the Khokh Nuur (560 m), an otherwise undistinguished spot in the eastern Mongolian plain.
The landscape includes one of Asia's largest freshwater lakes (Hovsgol Nuur), many salt lakes, marshes, sand dunes, rolling grasslands, alpine forests, and permanent mountain glaciers. Northern and western Mongolia are seismically active zones, with frequent earthquakes and many hot springs and extinct volcanoes. Mongolia has three major mountain ranges.
The highest is the Altai Mountains, which stretch across the western and the southwestern regions of the country on a northwest-to-southeast axis. The Hangayn Nuruu, mountains also trending northwest to southeast, occupy much of central and north-central Mongolia. These are older, lower, and more eroded mountains, with many forests and alpine pastures.
The Hentiyn Nuruu, mountains near the Russian border to the northeast of Ulaanbaatar, are lower still. Much of eastern Mongolia is occupied by a plain, and the lowest area is a southwest-to-northeast trending depression that reaches from the Gobi region in the south to the eastern frontier.
The rivers drain in three directions: north to the Arctic Ocean, east to the Pacific, or south to the deserts and the depressions of Inner Asia. Rivers are most extensively developed in the north, and the country's major river system is that of the Selenge-Moron, which drains into Lake Baykal. Some minor tributaries of Siberia's Yenisey River also rise in the mountains of northwestern Mongolia. Rivers in northeastern Mongolia drain into the Pacific through the Argun and Amur (Heilong Jiang) rivers, while the few streams of southern and southwestern Mongolia do not reach the sea but run into salt lakes or deserts.