Mongolia is a vast country of stark beauty, extreme weather and exceedingly warm people, who still revere the legendary Genghis Khan, who conquered much of the known world from his Mongolian base. Mongolia is the size of western Europe with fewer than three million people, and it is the single most sparsely populated nation on earths, but with one of the fastest growing economies. Mongolians have traditionally been nomadic herdsmen - and half the people still are, living in round felt tents called gers that are moved regularly from place to place. There is great contrast between the capital city of Ulaanbaatar with its fancy restaurants and shops, and the rest of the country which holds on firmly to its traditional culture. Huge gorges, sweeping planes, rich steppes, crystalline lakes and mountains topped in snow are just some of Mongolia's many attractions. With communism and Soviet influence now but a memory, democratic Mongolia offers access to its Buddhist past. There are temples such as the Erdene Zuu monastery - the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia - as well as the Bogd Khaan Palace. Various ruins include the famous Karakorum (the ancient capital of Mongolia founded by Genghis Khan), Khitan and Ongiin Khiid. Mongolia's natural realm will surprise you with its diversity. Fishing, camping and long treks on horseback and camel are but some of the possibilities for the traveller.