Fast food geography: Discover Mongolia through KFC

Neighbor to the Hardee’s-loving people of Kazakhstan, Mongolia is home to 2.8 million people and KFC. We’ll use that finger-licking-good food to teach you the basics.

Mongolia’s capital is Ullan Bator

The KFC opened in 2013 in Ullan Bator, just across the street from the Central Library.

Ullan Bator is Mongolia’s largest city, though there are plans to open KFCs around the country. It’s home to about half of all Mongolians, notable in a country that’s famously nomadic.

Development is a big deal

It would be a mistake to read too much into the pageantry behind one KFC store opening. But Yum! Brands is one of the first fast food chains to enter the country, and it’s a milestone for a country where many of the residents live on less than $1.25 a day.

The opening was attended by the United States Ambassador and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture. The Yum! CEO also said he met with the Prime Minister.

Mongolians are nomads

Even today, Mongolians are a nomadic people. The symbol of the nomad, of course, is the yurt.

That’s the reason KFC Mongolia tried to evoke the look of a yurt in its designs for the restaurant’s interior.

Mongolia’s highest peak is Tavan Bogd

What does a mountain have to do with KFC? A lot, as it turns out.

The Mongolian KFC is franchised by a company named after Tavan Bogd. The company is a diversified group that brings many Western brands into Mongolia.

The mountain means five saints in Mongolian. You’ll find the word bogd frequently in Mongolian culture in province names and other mountain names. It’s also found in history in the Bogd Khan, who led Mongolia from 1911 to 1924.

Mongolia gets cold, which makes food difficult

When KFC built a social media campaign to find fans, they focused on how to stay warm during Mongolian winters.

During winter nights, Mongolia can reach −40 °F. Summers are hot.

The climate is dry, too, which means that very little land is arable. For that reason, KFC started by importing their chickens from Japan instead of eating Mongolian. The Mongolian diet is more likely to be based around beef or lamb.

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