Mongolia is in the middle of an economic boom. In the last 10 years the GDP has more than doubled, and Marc Faber has said it could be the “Saudi Arabia of Asia” due to its tremendous mineral resources.
But all this growth hasn’t come without problems, namely the “resource curse” where economies become unstable because of overreliance on one sector. Political problems are emerging, and neighbouring China’s thirst for gold is leading to so-called “ninja miners” who work, dangerously and illegally, under the cover of darkness.
Meanwhile the economic disparities are glaring. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria recently spent some time documenting the ger districts of capital city Ulan Bator.
Despite the gleaming skyline of Ulan Bator in the background, people in the informal ger districts often live in the traditional Mongolian gers, also known as yurts. The New York Times notes that the circular structures have been used since the time of Genghis Khan.
In the picture below, Baljirjantsan Otgonseren, 32, stands inside her family ger.
Some 60 per cent of Mongolia live in the ger districts, many living with limited access to basic services such as water and sanitation. The districts are growing, too — Reuters reports that a 2010 National Population Center census showed that every year between 30,000 and 40,0000 people migrate from the countryside to the capital.
This is all despite Mongolia having is one of the world’s least densely populated countries — just 2.8 million people are spread across an area around three times the size of France.
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