The London Olympics got me thinking about where Mongolia ranks in the world in terms of medal count. Fairly well it turns out.

Wikipedia has a great list of all time medal winners1, and one of the first things that pops out is that as of July 28th, 2012 eighty Olympic teams have never won a single medal, gold, silver, or bronze. Mongolia has 19 medals, including two golds, which puts it at a respectable rank internationally.

Table 1 shows Mongolia relative to other countries nearby in the rankings. The USA and USSR top the full list with 2,549 and 1,204 medals, respectively. Mongolia’s position may not seem all that impressive at first, but this is because so many countries are tied with 2 or less medals. The median medal count is 2 on a list of 217 teams! Mongolia’s ranking puts it in the 72nd percentile.

Table 1. All Time Olympic Medal Ranking
Relative Rank (Out of 72) Country Summer Medals Winter Medals Combined Medals
52nd Morocco 21 0 21
52nd Thailand 21 0 21
53rd India 20 0 20
53rd Latvia 17 3 20
54th Mongolia 19 0 19
54th Chinese Taipei 19 0 19
55th Georgia 18 0 18
56th Uzbekistan 17 1 18

Taking things a step further and ranking countries on a “medals per 1 million citizens basis”2, Mongolia climbs up the rankings to 36th place. Table 2 shows this, and on this basis Mongolia actually becomes pretty competitive with the USA.

Table 2. Olympic Medals Per Million Citizens
Rank (Out of 125) Country Medals
32nd USA 8.12
33rd Luxembourg 7.82
34th Belarus 7.72
35th Poland 7.14
36th Mongolia 6.68
37th Croatia 6.29
38th South Korea 5.35
39th Lithuania 5.02

This is all fine and dandy, but I would like to see Mongolia top a list no matter how contrived. Where’s another area Mongolia is internationally competitive? Sheep, of course. Using some data I found on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website3 for sheep populations in 20 countries in Eurasia4 I developed what I call the “Olympic Sheeple Index.” It is a basic formula:

Olympic Sheeple Index = (total medals) * (sheep population)/(human population)

This simply weights the total medals by the sheep per capita in a country. The higher the score the higher the ranking. Mongolia just absolutely destroys the competition in this category, in part because it has way more sheep than people along with its respectable medal count. Table 3 shows the rankings on the Olympic Sheeple Index.

Table 3. Ranking on the Olympic Sheeple Index
Rank (Out of 20) Country Score
1 Mongolia 79.75
2 China 43.61
3 Iran 34.43
4 Kazakhstan 24.76
5 Uzbekistan 5.080
6 Pakistan 1.354
7 India 0.972
8 Indonesia 0.773
9 Tajikistan 0.382
10 North Korea 0.298
11 Malaysia 0.061
12 Thailand 0.014
13 South Korea 0.003
14 Philippines 0.003
15 Sri Lanka 0.001
16 Bangladesh 0.000
17 Nepal 0.000
18 Bhutan 0.000
19 Fiji 0.000
20 Papua New Guinea 0.000

I hope Mongolia is able to work its way up all three lists in London…although the ranking on the last list might be secure for the indefinite future given its deliberate design and Mongolia’s sheep population. Good luck athletes.

1. “All-time Olympic Games medal table” – (Accessed July 19, 2012).
2. Using population data from “List of Countries by Population” – (accessed July 30, 2012). Countries that no longer exist such as the USSR, Russian Empire, Croatia and Montenegro are not included because there was no population data immediately available.
3. “Table 96. Sheep: population” – (accessed July 31, 2012).
4. Unfortunately this data is for 2002, which is not ideal. But, then again, this is a contrived ranking, so who cares?