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Genghis Khan

   There was little in Mongolia to attract conquerors, and there is little today to lure builders of factories and high-rises. The chief resource of Mongolia may well be grass, upon which most life depends. When the grass in one place has been cropped by their sheep and horses, herders simply dismantle their gers and move to another place. Few other nations approach the end of the 20th century holding so true to traditions.

Cursed by a short growing season and fierce winters, Mongolia never became populous. More than twice as large as Texas, it claims only 2.3 million people, perhaps no more than when Genghis founded his dynasty in 1206.

© 1997 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.