Hövsgöl - Facts and Figures
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Facts and Figures
Hövsgöl is Mongolia's northernmost and, with 120,000 inhabitants, most populous aimag (province). Hövsgöl's area is 100.000 sq.km, which is larger than Portugal or Ireland. Within Mongolia, Hövsgöl is famous for its mountains, forests and lakes. The area is named after Hövsgöl nuur, Mongolia's second largest lake.

Hövsgöl's highest elevations are in the north and northwest, in mountain ranges that are part of the Eastern Sayan. Hövsgöl's highest summit is Mönh Saridag just north of Hövsgöl nuur, on the border to Russia, with an altitude of 3491m. The southern parts of Hövsgöl are in the Hangai range, with rolling hills and gentle slopes. However, even there the altitude can be close to 3000 m. The northeast and center are lower, but still hilly. Hövsgöl's median altitude is higher than 1500 meters.

Like in the rest of Mongolia, Hövsgöl's climate is quite continental, with warm summers and very cold winters, just a bit colder and wetter. Average temperatures in Mörön, Hövsgöl's administrative center, are 17°C in July and -24°C in January. The temperature range even within one given season is quite large, and it is not uncommon to have some cold days with snow on the mountains even in July.

Due to the - in comparison with the rest of Mongolia - relative abundance of water, there are large larch forests, especially in the northern and northeastern parts of Hövsgöl. The Darhad valley in northwestern Hövsgöl is one of the wettest parts of Mongolia, with a multitude of rivers and lakes. Further south, steppe is more predominant.

About 35,000 of Hövsgöl's 120,000 inhabitants live in Mörön. Hövsgöl has a total of 23 soums (districts, incl. Mörön) which, with the exception of Mörön, typically have an area of around 5000 sq.km and around 4000 inhabitants.

Most inhabitants of the area are Halh Mongols, other important groups are Darhad in the northwest and Hotgoid in the west and center. In the northeast live some Buryats, and in the north and northwest there are Urianhai and Tsaatan. The most common religion is probably Tibetan Buddhism, but the Darhad and the whole north of Hövsgöl are also famous for their shamans. In Mörön, some people have converted to Christianity.

The most important branch of local economy is agriculture. In 2007, Hövsgöl had about 3.4 million heads of livestock, comprised of 2300 camels, 150,000 horses, 322,000 heads of cattle, yaks and hainags (cattle/yak hybrids), 1.44 million sheep and 1.51 million goats. There were also about 900 reindeer. Farming and gardening is done on around 9000 hectares.

Hövsgöl aimag was created in 1931. Back then, the area had 70,000 inhabitants with 1.2 million heads of livestock. In 1932, Hövsgöl was the site of a bloody uprising against the radical collectivationist and anti-religious policies of the time. The uprising would eventually affect four aimags and cost more than 1000 lifes. In 1933, the administrative center of Hövsgöl was relocated to Mörön. Before, it had been located in Hatgal, at the southern tip of Hövsgöl nuur. In 1938, several soums in the east and west became part of Bulgan and Zavhan, respectively. In 1942, the three southern soums, i.e. Galt, Jargalant and Shine-Ider, were transferred from Arhangai to Hövsgöl.