Mongolia's total population as of July 2007 is estimated by U.S. Census Bureau at 2,951,786 people ranking at around 138th in the world in terms of population. But the U.S. Department of State Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs uses the U.N. estimations instead of the U.S. Census Bureau estimations. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division estimates Mongolia's total population (mid. 2007) as 2,629,000 (11% less than the U.S. Census Bureau figure). UN estimates resemble those made by the Mongolian National Statistical Office (2,612,900, end of June 2007).
It has a very small population relative to its two border neighbors, Russia and the People's Republic of China. Though the majority of Mongolian citizens are of Mongol descent there are small populations of Kazakh, Tuvan, and Tungus peoples. Mongolia's population growth rate is estimated at 1.2% (2007 est.). About 59% of the total population is under age 30, 27% of whom are under 14. This relatively young and growing population has placed strains on Mongolia's economy.
Since the end of socialism, Mongolia has experienced a decline of total fertility rate (children per woman) that is steeper than in any other country in the world, according to recent UN estimations: in 1970-1975, fertility was estimated to be 7.33 children per woman, but 2005-2010 prospects are 1.87 (4 times less).
Mongolia has become more urbanized. About 40 percent of the population lives in Ulaanbaatar, and in 2002 a further 23% lived in Darkhan, Erdenet, the aimag centers and sum-level permanent settlements. Another share of the population lives in the sum centers. In 2002, about 30 percent of all households in Mongolia lived from breeding lifestock. Most herders in Mongolia follow a pattern of nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralism.
Ethnic Mongols account for about 85% of the population and consist of Khalkha and other groups, all distinguished primarily by dialects of the Mongol language. The Khalkha make up 90% of the ethnic Mongol population. The remaining 10% include Buryats, Durbet Mongols and others in the north and Dariganga Mongols in the east. Turkic peoples (Kazakhs, Tuvans, and Chantuu (Uzbek) constitute 7% of Mongolia's population, and the rest are Tungusic peoples, Chinese, and Russians. Most, but not all, Russians left the country following the withdrawal of economic aid and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The official language of Mongolia is Khalkha Mongolian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and is spoken by 90% of the population. A variety of different dialects are spoken across the country. In the west the Kazakh and Tuvan languages, among others, are also spoken. The Russian language is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, though English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea. Interest in Chinese, as the language of the other neighbouring power, has been growing. Japanese is also popular among the younger people. A number of older educated Mongolians speak some German, as they studied in the former East Germany, while a few speak other languages from the former Eastern Bloc. Besides that, many younger Mongolians are fluent in the Western European languages as they study or work in foreign countries including Germany, France and Italy.
Mongolian is one of the Mongolic languages. Mongolic is frequently included in the Altaic languages, a group of languages named after the Altay Mountains that also includes the Turkic and Tungusic languages.
According to the CIA World Factbook and the U.S. Department of State, 50% of Mongolia's population follow the Tibetan Buddhism, 40% are listed as having no religion, 6% are Shamanist and Christian, and 4% are Muslim.
Various forms of Tengriism and Shamanism have been widely practiced throughout the history of what is now modern day Mongolia, as such beliefs were common among nomadic people in Asian history. Such beliefs gradually gave way to Tibetan Buddhism, but Shamanism has left a mark on Mongolian religious culture, and continues to be practiced.
Throughout much of the twentieth century, the communist government ensured that the religious practices of the Mongolian people were largely repressed. Khorloogiin Choibalsan complied with the orders of Joseph Stalin, destroying almost all of Mongolia's over 700 Buddhist monasteries and killing thousands of monks.
The fall of communism in 1991 restored the legality of public religious practice, and Tibetan Buddhism, which had been the predominant religion in the region before the rise of Communism, again rose to become the most widely practiced religion in Mongolia. The end of religious repression in the 1990s also allowed for other religions, such as Islam and Christianity, to spread in the country. According to the Christian missionary group Barnabas Fund, the number of Christians grew from just 4 in 1989 to around 40,000 as of 2008.
See also: Buddhism in Mongolia, Islam in Mongolia and Christianity in Mongolia
During the state socialist period, education was one of the areas of significant achievement in Mongolia. Illiteracy was virtually eliminated, in part through the use of seasonal boarding schools for children of nomadic families. Funding to these boarding schools was cut in the 1990s, contributing to slightly increased illiteracy.
Primary and secondary education formerly lasted ten years, but was expanded to eleven years. Since the 2008-2009 school year, new first graders are using the twelve year system. As such, full transition to the twelve year system will not happen until the 2019-2020 school year, when the current first graders graduate.
Mongolian national universities are all spin-offs from the National University of Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.
The broad liberalization of the 1990s led to a boom in private institutions of higher education, although many of these establishments have difficulty living up to their name of "college" or "university".
Since 1990, key health indicators like life expectancy and infant and child mortality have steadily improved, both due to social changes and to improvement in the health sector. However, serious problems remain, especially in the countryside.
Average childbirth (fertility rate) is around 2.25 - 1.87 per woman (2007) and average life expectancy is 67-68 years. Infant mortality is at 1.9%-4% and child mortality is at 4.3%.
The health sector comprises 17 specialized hospitals and centers, 4 regional diagnostic and treatment centers, 9 district and 21 aimag general hospitals, 323 soum hospitals, 18 feldsher posts, 233 family group practices, and 536 private hospitals and 57 drug supply companies/pharmacies. In 2002 the total number of health workers was 33273, of which 6823 were doctors, 788 pharmacists, 7802-nurses and 14091 mid-level personnel. At present, there are 27.7 physicians and 75.7 hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants.