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Politics The Trump-Kim summit could take place in Mongolia's Ulaanbaatar — here's what the coldest capital city on earth is like

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Mongolia is on friendly terms with the US and North Korea, and Ulaanbaatar has hosted North Korean talks before.

A man releases an eagle during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. play

A man releases an eagle during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)

The summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un may very well take place in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

US officials familiar with the secret, high level planning talks for the bilateral meeting told CNN that Kim would prefer to host it in Pyongyang, but that Ulaanbaatar is being floated as neutral ground.

Former and current presidents of Mongolia also seem open to the plan. Mongolia has hosted meetings between North Korea and Japan in the past and is on friendly terms with most countries, including its neighbors Russia and China, as well as both the US and North Korea.

Take a look around the city that could soon play host to Trump and Kim.

Mongolia is a huge country. It's twice the size of Texas and nearly the size of the European Union.

People riding horses with their eagles during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. play

People riding horses with their eagles during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


But there are only 3 million people in the whole country.

Downtown garden in Ulaanbaatar play

Downtown garden in Ulaanbaatar

(Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)


That gives Mongolia one of the smallest population densities in the world.

A Mongolian baby clad in traditional wrestling attire. play

A Mongolian baby clad in traditional wrestling attire.

(WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)


More than a third of the population — 1.3 million people — live in Ulaanbaatar.

More than a third of the population — 1.3 million people — live in Ulaanbaatar. play

More than a third of the population — 1.3 million people — live in Ulaanbaatar.

(JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)


The city is a mix of high rises, low rises, and "gers" — a kind of tent.

The city is a mix of high rises, low rises, and "gers" — a kind of tent. play

The city is a mix of high rises, low rises, and "gers" — a kind of tent.

(In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)


Ger districts surround the downtown areas and are home to rural and nomadic Mongolians who move to the capital to seek work.

Ger districts surround the downtown areas and are home to rural and nomadic Mongolians who move to the capital to seek work. play

Ger districts surround the downtown areas and are home to rural and nomadic Mongolians who move to the capital to seek work.

(Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)


Many have no running water.

A woman prepares a meal inside a traditional Mongolian house, in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. play

A woman prepares a meal inside a traditional Mongolian house, in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar.

(FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)


In front of Ulaanbaatar's Parliament House is a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, the leader of Mongolia's 1921 revolution.

In front of Ulaanbaatar's Parliament House is a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, the leader of Mongolia's 1921 revolution. play

In front of Ulaanbaatar's Parliament House is a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, the leader of Mongolia's 1921 revolution.

(JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)


The city square was originally named after Sukhbaatar. It was briefly changed to be named after Genghis Khan, but a court ruled it had to be switched back.

A 20-year class reunion gathers for photos in Sukhbaatar Square. play

A 20-year class reunion gathers for photos in Sukhbaatar Square.

(Taylor Weidman/Getty Images)


This is a giant statue of Genghis Khan at the Mongolian Parliament House.

Genghis Khan statue. play

Genghis Khan statue.

(JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)


Conqueror Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, is also a source of intense pride in Mongolia.

Mongolian dancers performing during a celebration of the 800th birthday of conqueror Kublai Khan. play

Mongolian dancers performing during a celebration of the 800th birthday of conqueror Kublai Khan.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


Ulaanbaatar suffers from heavy air pollution from the coal it burns for heating and cooking.

A general view looking east over the capital city. play

A general view looking east over the capital city.

(In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)


Heating is vital in Ulaanbaatar, which is the coldest capital city in the world.

Heating is vital in Ulaanbaatar, which is the coldest capital city in the world. play

Heating is vital in Ulaanbaatar, which is the coldest capital city in the world.

(JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)


Winter lows can reach -40C (-40F). Balconies and car boots can suffice as perfectly good meat freezers.

Winter lows can reach -40C (-40F). Balconies and car boots can suffice as perfectly good meat freezers. play

Winter lows can reach -40C (-40F). Balconies and car boots can suffice as perfectly good meat freezers.

(Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)


Because it is so inhospitable for large chunks of the year, hotels and transport may have more availability than other cities to potentially manage a last minute influx of diplomats and press for the Trump-Kim summit.

The Ulan Bator Hotel. play

The Ulan Bator Hotel.

(GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)


This is the international airport in Ulaanbaatar, which is named after Genghis Khan, where Air Force One could land. Kim could fly, or travel to Mongolia in his armored train.

Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) International Airport. play

Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) International Airport.

(JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Read more about Kim's personal, bulletproof private train here.



The country has tried to maintain friendly ties with most countries.

Mongolian honour guards prepare for the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukhbaatar Square during the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in 2016. play

Mongolian honour guards prepare for the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukhbaatar Square during the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in 2016.

(WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)


Mongolia sees itself as neutral. Earlier this year it celebrated its 55th year of diplomatic relations with the UK with an ice sculpture of The Beatles.

An ice sculpture, made by a group of artists led by Ts. Batmunkh, in Sukhbaatar Square. play

An ice sculpture, made by a group of artists led by Ts. Batmunkh, in Sukhbaatar Square.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


Ulaanbaatar has hosted bilateral talks between other countries in the past, including North Korea and Japan.

North Korean (R) and Japanese diplomats hold bilateral talks at Ikh Tenger tower in Ulaanbaatar in November 2012. play

North Korean (R) and Japanese diplomats hold bilateral talks at Ikh Tenger tower in Ulaanbaatar in November 2012.

(Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/AFP/Getty Images)


Talks have taken place at Ikh Tenger, the residence of the Mongolian president.

North Korean diplomats walk into Ikh Tenger tower to hold bilateral talks with Japanese diplomats in Ulaanbaatar in November 2012. play

North Korean diplomats walk into Ikh Tenger tower to hold bilateral talks with Japanese diplomats in Ulaanbaatar in November 2012.

(Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/AFP/Getty Images)


Mongolia's President Khaltmaa Battulga is also a martial arts expert, while the country's Prime Minister is the head of a Harley-Davidson fan club.

Mongolia's President Khaltmaa Battulga. play

Mongolia's President Khaltmaa Battulga.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


Nearly 1,200 North Koreans lived and worked in Mongolia until the UN introduced new sanctions last year. The first workers began returning home in December.

North Korean workers at a construction site in Ulaanbaatar. play

North Korean workers at a construction site in Ulaanbaatar.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


But many North Korean defectors also head to Mongolia, via China. Once a defector arrives, guards call the South Korean embassy in Ulaanbaatar which hosts defectors until it can take them to Seoul.

A North Korean defector anxiously awaits his train departure from a safe house in northeast China. He eventually made it to Mongolia and then South Korea. play

A North Korean defector anxiously awaits his train departure from a safe house in northeast China. He eventually made it to Mongolia and then South Korea.

(Bryan Chan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


The ties between the two countries go back to Mongolia's communist days. Just outside of Ulaanbaatar some students still attend a school that was built by North Korea more than 50 years ago.

Mongolian schoolchildren in class in Altanbulag, 60 kilometres from Ulaanbaatar. play

Mongolian schoolchildren in class in Altanbulag, 60 kilometres from Ulaanbaatar.

(JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)


A baby boom in Mongolia has led to an undersupply of kindergarten spots, which are given out by a lottery system. Admission tickets are pulled out of a box in front of parents at random.

A baby boom in Mongolia has led to an undersupply of kindergarten spots, which are given out by a lottery system. Admission tickets are pulled out of a box in front of parents at random. play

A baby boom in Mongolia has led to an undersupply of kindergarten spots, which are given out by a lottery system. Admission tickets are pulled out of a box in front of parents at random.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


Some 16,000 child jockeys take part in hundreds of horse races every year. The races are part of Mongolia's strong horsemanship traditions, but have been slammed by human rights groups and banned by courts.

A child jockey competes during a winter race. play

A child jockey competes during a winter race.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)


Google Street View was only launched in Mongolia in 2015.

A Google Street View member walks the streets of Ulaanbaatar with a specialized camera to record the surroundings. play

A Google Street View member walks the streets of Ulaanbaatar with a specialized camera to record the surroundings.

(Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/AFP/Getty Images)


In 2016, Mongol Post partnered with the startup what3words to give every location, as small as 3 metres x 3 metres, a unique identifier. One section of the Ulaanbaatar railway is identified as "pricing.drizzly.potato."

Suburbs of Ulaanbaatar. play

Suburbs of Ulaanbaatar.

(JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)


Ulaanbaatar has played host to a number of US politicians in the past, including Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

US Secretary of State John Kerry shoots a bow and arrow as he participates in a Naadam ceremony, a competition which traditionally includes horse racing, Mongolian wrestling and archery, in Ulaanbaatar in 2016. play

US Secretary of State John Kerry shoots a bow and arrow as he participates in a Naadam ceremony, a competition which traditionally includes horse racing, Mongolian wrestling and archery, in Ulaanbaatar in 2016.

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)


President George W. Bush and Vice President Joe Biden have also visited the country.

US President George W. Bush (R) walks out of a ger at Ikh Tenger in Ulaanbaatar in 2005. Bush was the first sitting US president to visit Mongolia. play

US President George W. Bush (R) walks out of a ger at Ikh Tenger in Ulaanbaatar in 2005. Bush was the first sitting US president to visit Mongolia.

(PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)


Mongolia was the second communist country in the world and had strong ties to the Soviet Union. Many students still learn Russian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj (L) review an honor guard on September 3, 2014 during a welcoming ceremony in Ulaanbaatar. play

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj (L) review an honor guard on September 3, 2014 during a welcoming ceremony in Ulaanbaatar.

(ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/AFP/Getty Images)


Mass demonstrations helped overthrow the communist rule in 1990, and the last statue of Lenin in Ulaanbaatar was torn down in 2012.

A crowd gathers to watch workers taking down the last bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin in Ulaanbaatar. play

A crowd gathers to watch workers taking down the last bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin in Ulaanbaatar.

(Byambasuren Byamba-Ochir/AFP/Getty Images)


Buddhism has now made a resurgence in the country, and half the population identifies as Buddhist.

The construction site of the Grand Maitreya Spiritual Centre on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. play

The construction site of the Grand Maitreya Spiritual Centre on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar.

(FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)


One of Mongolia's most iconic sports is eagle hunting, where eagles are trained to hunt animals. But there are so few eagle hunters left, the tradition could die out within a generation.

A man looks at his eagle during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. play

A man looks at his eagle during the Spring Eagle Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

(BYAMBASUREN BYAMBA-OCHIR/AFP/Getty Images)