In 1990, Mongolia abandoned its 70-year-old Soviet-style one-party system in favour of political and economic reforms and multiparty elections.
Vast quantities of untapped mineral wealth have made it a target for foreign investors, transforming the country's tiny but fast-growing economy. This rapid change has taken place against a backdrop of political wrangling and government pledges to tighten control over the country's assets.
Once the heartland of an empire stretching to Europe under Genghis Khan, Mongolia is a landlocked country dominated by sparsely populated steppe and semi-desert.
A third of the population lives in the capital, while around 40% of the country's workforce is nomadic, herding livestock in the extensive pasturelands.
President: Khaltmaa Battulga
Populist former martial arts star and businessman Khaltmaa Battulga was sworn in as president in July 2017, after winning a run-off election.
An MP since 2004, he previously served in government as transport and urban development minister from 2008 to 2012, and as minister of industry and agriculture from 2012 to 2014.
Mr Battulga is the founder of Genco, one of Mongolia's largest holding companies. Formerly a world-champion sambo and judo wrestler, he is currently the president of the Mongolian Judo Association.
Prime minister: Uhnaagiyn Hurelsuh
A public broadcaster competes with privately-owned TV and radio networks.
International observers say media freedom is generally respected, but that journalists tend to self-censor.
Around 67% of Mongolians are online.
Some key dates in Mongolia's history:
1206-63 Genghis Khan unites Mongol tribes and launches a campaign of conquest which eventually results in the world's biggest land empire.
1691- Mongolia comes under the rule of China's Qing dynasty.
1921 - Wins independence but under strict Soviet control.
1990 - Mongolia holds its first free multiparty elections.
2014 - Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag is dismissed by a parliamentary vote of no confidence and later replaced by Chimed Saikhanbileg.