Visit Ulaanbaatar on Google Earth – the only way most of us are likely to get there for some time – and you will find that the Mongolian capital looks like no other city. Scattered around the Soviet-era urban centre are hundreds of thousands of tiny white dots. It is as if someone has emptied an enormous bag of confetti across the landscape, the white specks clustering in the folds of the valleys, extending outwards for miles in long, snaking tendrils. These dots – separated in their own plot and sometimes accompanied by the orange rectangle of a tin-roofed shack, visible when you zoom in close – are yurts (or gers in Mongolian). For thousands of years, these transportable tents, made of wooden latticework wrapped with insulating felt and canvas, have been the house type of choice for the Mongolian herders on the plains. But the nomadic tent-based mindset is not something easily given up when herders move to the city – with problematic results. “Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world,” says Badruun Gardi, who grew up in Ulaanbaatar and in 2016 founded GerHub, a nonprofit social enterprise that helps people adjust to the challenges of… Read full this story
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