Populated Points. The area is thinly populated. The populated points are small, consist of a few houses (sometimes more). The houses are wattle and daub, (rarely stone or wooden); the yards are normally fenced with a wattle and daub wall 1-2 meters in height. The monasteries, located in the road and path junctions, and near the wells, are also considered as permanent populated points. A monastery consists usually from
one to several stone temples and chapels, surrounded with the
wall and small wattle and daub houses outside the wall, which
belong to monks. There are temporary settlements of the nomadic
cattle-breeder all over the area. As a rule, these settlements
consist of a few felt yurtas. All the settlements use river,
lake and well water. Salt lake water is good only for horse ponds.
Road network. Improved dirt roads are 4-5 meters wide, and they are strengthened here and there with the addition of some macadam, pebble and gravel. The remaining dirt roads (byroads and field roads) allow the traffic in all directions at the dry time of year. The only bridge (its carrying capacity is 16 tons) is located on the improved dirt road Altan-Amal-Khailar and goes across the river Kerulen.
There are pack paths and footpaths all over. With the roads
or without, the traffic is passable, but while it's raining, it's
Relief and Soils. The area is open with hilly ranges, and sometimes turns into a wavy or almost flat field. Flats, the river Kerulem valley in particular, are usually occupied by the lakes, swamps and salt marshes. The hills and range elevation is 10-100 meters, here and there up to 200 meters; the crests of ridges are wide, the tops are rounded, the slopes are mainly gentle (less than 10°),
but there are also some steep or even precipitous slopes (15-20o).
The area allows traffic in all directions even out off the road.
For vehicles, the main obstacle could be the river "Kerulen"
and swampy parts of its flood plan. The soils are chiefly rock
debris, loamy and rock debris - sandy loamy with 0.2-1.5 meter
depth of cover; in the north-east, as well as in some other places,
there are rock and rocky streams cropping out. Across the river
Kerulen valley there are found sandy-shingle and peat (0.1-1.5
meters) soils. There are solonchaks in the sink holes. There
are also found some areas of persistant frozen soil, for which
the thickness reaches up to 35 meters. Ground waters occur 1-5
meters deep in lowlands, and at 10-15 meters or more in the hillsides
and range slopes. The region is seismic, and the force of earthquakes
Hydrography. The river Kerulen is 30-67 meters wide, and up to 2 meters in depth, with the stream speed ranging -1 to -1.5 m/s. The river bed is winding and divided on branches here and there. The bottom is sandy-shingle. The banks are mainly gentle. The flood plan is flat and hummocky, with some rare bushes. The water is dark. Other rivers are not large, and run dry. The lakes are usually not large; 0.5-2 km2
(maximum up to 7 km2), with the depth up to 1 meter.
THe banks are low, gentle, and partially swamped. The bottom
is slimy and vicious. Some of lakes have salted or alkaline water.
The water from springs and wells is suitable for drinking. All
salted lakes have water fit for pond conditions only. The rivers
and lakes freeze up usually before the middle of November. During
January, the ice measures one meter or more. Almost all small
rivers and lakes normally freeze solid. Ice is broken up in the
first half of April, and drifting of ice continues, as a rule,
for 2-6 days; on the lakes ice goes away by the end of April or
the middle of May. A spring high water surge does not occur every
year, because the snow (which is not much), melts and evaporates
right away. During the summer, the rivers overflow a lot after
the rains, and the level of water goes up in lakes. During the
dry time of year, all the rivers dry out (except the Kerulen River),
and some lakes turn into salty marshes. The marshes are mainly
grassy. They are located generally along the river valleys and
in sink holes. The depth of the marshes is usually less than
one meter. In the winter, marshes are always frozen solid and
allow all kinds of traffic. The solonchaks are spread out over
the extensive flat surface in the southeastern part of the area.
These are predominantly crystal solonchaks, which during the
dry time of year are a compact loamy salted soil with the surface
cracked all over, but firm enough to allow traffic. During the
rainy season, the solonchaks get wet quickly and become impassable
for traffic. In the area of the lake named Tsagan-Arshan-Nur
there are wet solonchaks with constantly wet salted soil that
makes that place never passable for traffic.
Vegetation. The vegetation is dry steppe (covered with feather grass, "pajamas", etc.), over most of the area. Along the Kerulen river valley there are swampy meadows with rare shrubs.
Climatic Conditions. The climate is continental. The winter (beginning from the end of October and ending in the middle of April) is long, very cold, with clear and quiet weather. Daily regular air temperature is -9 °C to -22 °C, and at night -15°C
(sometimes even as low as -43°C).
Thaws are possible only in the beginning or at the end of a season.
Precipitation used to be pretty seldom (3 to 5 days of precipitation
per month) in the form of snow. The snow cover develops by the
end of November. By the end of the season, the thickness of the
snow cover does not exceed 10-15 centimeters. The spring (from
the middle of April till the middle of May), is short; it is characterized
by unsteady weather and highest wind speed of the year. During
the day time it is usually warm, but at night there are possible
light frosts during the whole season. Precipitation normally
falls as rain or snow. The snow cover melts finally at the end
of April or in the beginning of May. The summer (the middle of
May through the middle of September) is warm, mainly dry, with
clear and partly-cloudy weather dominating. The usual day temperatures
of air are +17°
at night +12°
In the beginning or at the end of the season, there is a slight
possibility of night frosts. During summer time precipitation
is more frequent than in other seasons of the year; (up to 11
wet days per month). As a rule, precipitation falls in the form
of rain; more seldom as rain with thunderstorms. Rains are more
intense in July. The summer has the most gloomy days a year (up
to 10 gloomy days a month). The fall (the middle of September
through the end of October) is short, mainly with dry, sunny weather.
Days are still warm, yet at night, little frosts are possible
even in the beginning of the season. Precipitation falls in the
form of light rain (up to 6 days a month with precipitation).
But in October about half of each day of precipitation is in
the form of snow. West, northwest and southwest winds are dominated
during a whole season; their average speed 3-5 m/s. From one
to four times a month strong winds occur (the speed is over 15
m/s). More often such kinds of winds are matched in the spring;
those winds bring a lot of sand and dust during dry times and
are called "the yellow winds".