In the autonomous municipality of Orkhon, and not technically part of Bulgan aimag, Erdenet is a little slice of Russia in Mongolia. The reason for Erdenet’s existence is the copper mine, which employs about 8000 people and is the lifeblood of the city.
Erdenet, Mongolia’s second-largest city, is modern (built in 1974) and comparatively wealthy, so the facilities are the best outside of Ulaanbaatar. Up to one-third of the population of Erdenet was Russian during communist times, though now only about 1000 Russians still work as technical advisers at the mine. You’ll hear plenty of Russian on the streets and will find restaurant menus featuring peroshki (meat-filled fried pastry) rather than buuz (steamed mutton dumplings). These days, you are just as likely to bump into a pair of clean-cut Mormons, who have set up a large base here.
With good road and rail connections, it’s likely that you’ll eventually find yourself passing through Erdenet. Such a feat was less likely under communism – back then, the USSR preferred to keep the city a secret and on most old maps Erdenet was deliberately marked incorrectly.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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