The Zaisan Monument on the edge of the Bogd Khan mountains south of Ulaanbaatar is a popular place for sightseers and young people to gather. From the monument, you can see across the city to the ger districts and mountains to the north.
A man looks towards the Ulaanbaatar city center from a mountain at the edge of the city's Songino Khairkhan district. The area is one of Ulaanbaatar's fastest-growing districts, home to thousands of recent arrivals looking for new opportunities in the city. It can take over an hour to reach the city center from the hills at the edge of the district.
Passengers on a public bus route watch the ger districts pass by.
Ayush and her family left the city to try herding, but moved back to the ger districts of Ulaanbaatar after just a year in the countryside. They set their ger up on the edge of a gully. The local government has told them that they must move, because the gully could flood in heavy rains, but Ayush is unwilling to move further from the main road.
Billboards advertising luxury goods flank a statue of Sanjaasuren Zorig in the center of Ulaanbaatar. Zorig, considered the godfather of Mongolian democracy, was a leader of the student movement that forced the Politburo to allow opposition political parties, and was a Member of Parliament and government minister until his assassination, still unsolved, in 1996.
Otgon Tenger University graduation, Sukhbaatar Square
Otgon Tenger University students celebrate their graduation on the steps of the Chinggis Khan monument in Sukhbaatar Square, the physical and spiritual center of Ulaanbaatar, in front of the cameras of family and friends.
Internet cafe, Ger district
A woman walks past a ger district internet cafe, some twenty kilometers from downtown Ulaanbaatar. While the ger districts have schools, administrative centers, and the occasional internet cafe, they lack indoor plumbing and connections to the city's central heating system.
Boys climb on a statue at the Zaisan monument to Mongolian-Soviet friendship, one of several reminders of the country's communist past strewn throughout Ulaanbaatar.
Foreigners and Mongolians alike dance 2009 away on New Year's Eve at the Sky Lounge, one of Ulaanbaatar's newest and swankiest clubs. It is located on the 17th floor of a building that also houses a Louis Vuitton store, and looks out over Peace Avenue, the main street through the capital city.
Visitors to Gandan Khiid, Mongolia's most important Buddhist monastery, buy small bags of seeds to feed pigeons in front of a stupa surrounded by prayer wheels.
Young residents at a care center for homeless children eat lunch. Ulaanbaatar has struggled to fight homelessness, and in the past thousands of children suffered through the cityâs frigid winters by sleeping in the sewers. Recently, the number of homeless children has decreased, as the quality of care centers has improved.
A man walks through Ulaanbaatar's smog-choked streets on a December evening. Air pollution in Ulaanbaatar peaks during the winter months that stretch from November to March. The thick air pollution is produced in part by cars and coal-fueled power plants, but mostly by hundreds of thousands of families living in gers and wooden houses on the outskirts of the city, none connected to the central heating system and nearly all burning coal to keep warm. Ulaanbaatar is the world's coldest national capital and is home to over a third of Mongolia's 2.8 million people.
Sukhbaatar Square is the physical and spiritual heart of Ulaanbaatar. The squareâs namesake, a military hero and Communist leader who liberated the city from a White Russian invasion in 1921, is memorialized in the statue in the middle of the square. The square is now a center of leisure activity, small business, and occasional political protests.
Members of the Dream Club, a UB social group that promotes healthy lifestyles, sing together while on a train headed to a countryside celebration of the first sunrise of 2010.