Alcohol Consumption: A Toast to Data

This will be the last post on this blog for an indefinite period as I turn my attention to other projects. I thought it would be fitting for the last post to be inspired much as the first post (here) was nearly two years ago with an interesting question raised by my fellow blogger Julian Dierkes over at "Mongolia Focus." Recently, Julian pointed out that a World Health Organization (WHO) interactive map on alcohol consumption around the world put Mongolia at a relatively low 5.8 liters of "pure alcohol" consumption per person per year (see map here). Given that alcoholism, in popular belief, is one of Mongolia's most acute public health problems, this number seemed remarkably low.

Read more...

Rethinking Ulaanbaatar's Population

Ulaanbaatar is the most populated administrative area in Mongolia. Its population was estimated 1.31 million in 2013, representing approximately 46 percent of Mongolia's total population.1 According to population data compiled by the Ulaanbaatar City Statistics Office,2 Ulaanbaatar's population has been growing at a steadily increasing rate since the 1940s. Before the forties, the city was not much of a city at all, but rather a sleepy camp in the Tuul river valley that claimed less than 5 percent of the total population of the country. From the 1940s to the 1990s, the city increasingly represented a much larger portion of the national population, and in the last decade or so the city's population growth significantly outpaced the national growth rate, rapidly heading towards claiming half of the country's population (see graph below).

Read more...

Final Verdict: 'UB Cold' or 'Winter-Schminter'?

In January I examined whether winter temperatures to that point were above or below average (see here). I compared this winter's temperatures to the historical averages, as well as the first winter I spent in Mongolia in 2002-03.1 The verdict at that time was this winter was above average and hardly representative of what one might call "Ulaanbaatar cold." Enduring that kind of cold allows one to claim a level of badassery usually reserved for mountain men or Arctic explorers. It's a pride thing, so knowing where a winter fits into the historical record is extremely important. Now that winter is finally over, I have gone back to the data to see if this winter was able to turn things around in the miserably cold department.

Read more...

This Year's Winter Isn't 'Ulaanbaatar Cold'

This is my eighth winter in Mongolia and fourth in Ulaanbaatar. When it comes to cold weather, Ulaanbaatar is one of the coldest places in Mongolia. It is also by far the coldest capital in the world (see here). But, this year it has felt relatively warm in comparison to previous winters. Don't get me wrong. It's still colder than most of humanity could or would want to endure, but it doesn't feel "Ulaanbaatar cold" this year. As usual, instead of just expressing my feelings, I decided to investigate the numbers.

Read more...

Editorial: In Defense of Hero Diversity

Recently the Ulaanbaatar city council voted to rename Sukhbaatar Square to Chinggis Square. This came as a surprise for many in the city because there was no formal public debate about the proposed change leading up to the vote. The decision may have been quiet and swift, but it sparked a raucous public debate nevertheless.

Read more...