The most expensive license plate in Mongolia.

TL:DR Mongolia auctions off a “lucky number” license plate and the bids reach 427.45 million MNT (Mongolian Tugriks) in less than three hours. That’s $150,035.10 USD at current exchange rates.

Numbers mean a lot to most Mongolians. Generally, 1, 3, 8, and 9 are considered “lucky” numbers. Mongolian phone numbers have 8 digits, and the first 4 of these numbers can tell you a lot about who is calling you. So-called “lucky” phone numbers beginning with 99 or 88 regularly sell for anywhere from $1,000 (9999-XXXX) up to $20,000 or more for the most elite (9911-XXXX). These phone numbers are…


As the least densely populated sovereign nation (2 inhabitants per km2), Mongolia has no lack of wide-open spaces. Just a few kilometers outside the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, you will find vast expanses of steppe dotted with sheep, goats, cows, and the occasional horse herd. But this space also has a downside.

Simply put, driving around Mongolia is hard. Mongolia’s paved road network is mostly limited to connecting Ulaanbaatar with provincial capitals. Less than 25% of Mongolia’s road network is paved. This creates challenges for Mongolia’s government, civil society organizations, and private businesses. Obtaining accurate information about activities outside the capital…


The current election saw a switch back to the block voting system used in 1992 and 2008. This system has both positives and negatives, and this system has much larger election districts than the previous single-member districts of the 2016 election. This allows us to more easily analyze the districts with the available data.

To put all of the data together and make it user friendly, I built Songolt, an interactive data explorer that allows the reader to see key indicators of election districts. The indicators covered in the app include:

  • Population indicators: population, household size, herder percent, age group…


Air pollution is a big issue during the winter months in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The effects of air pollution are quite severe, with those living in the most polluted areas suffering from lowered lung function, increased rates of respiratory infection, and shortened lifespans. In an attempt to solve this issue, the government has been focusing on the source of air pollution, the peri-urban ger districts surrounding the city center. In these areas, houses burn coal for both cooking and heat.

Beginning in May 2019, burning raw coal in Ulaanbaatar was made illegal. To replace the fuel the government coordinated the manufacture…


In December 2018 I wrote an article forecasting the USD-MNT exchange rate using machine learning. The subtitle was “When a good model doesn’t work”, so keep this in mind as you read below. The model I developed had an average error of about 28 MNT when forecasting 3, 6, and 12 months ahead. This sounds pretty good, but the end of 2018 saw a large depreciation of the tugrik and our model forecast appeared to be well under the trend. So how did the model do? Let’s take a look!


Winter is coming, and we know what that means in Ulaanbaatar. Extremely high levels of air pollution. Even with the recent ban on the burning of raw coal it is possible (even likely) that levels of the particularly dangerous pollutant PM2.5 will remain high during the winter months.

During these months a pollution mask and air purifier are essential equipment to protect yourself and your family. Air purifiers can cost anywhere from $150-$500 or more. This means many families choose to forgo air purifiers completely, at the cost of their entire families health. Smart Air, a social enterprise founded in…


For the English version of this article click here. You can find the data and Jupyter Notebook for this article on Github here.

Улаанбаатар хотод 2018 оны 9 сараас хойш 1 кг хонины махны дундаж үнэ 35 хувиар (үхрийн мах 26 хувиар) өссөн. Мэдээллийн эх сурвалжууд энэхүү үнийн өсөлт, хөөрөгдөл цаашлаад махны нөөц хомсдолын талаар ихээхэн сенсацалсан билээ. Хэвлэн нийтлэгчид ихэвчлэн “Тэнгэрт тулсан үнэ” хэмээх утга бүхий гарчигтай нийтлэлүүд бичсэн байлаа. (Ikon.mn-ы онцлох сонин өгүүллийг доороос үзнэ үү). Миний бие махны үнэ яагаад дээд цэгтээ хүрснийг зах зээлийн хүчин зүйлстэй холбон тайлбарлахыг оролдлоо.

Монголын Махны Зах Зээлийн Талаар


You can find the data and Jupyter Notebook for this article on Github here.

Since September 2018 the average price per kilogram of mutton in Ulaanbaatar has increased by 35% (beef increased 26%). News outlets have been buzzing with talk of these price increases and even meat shortages. Headlines from many news outlets make it seem as if the sky is falling (see below for a particularly sensational headline from Ikon.mn). I hope to explain the market forces at play here and hopefully better understand why prices are at record highs.

Time series of beef and mutton prices from 2011 to 2019.

How Meat Works in Mongolia

In Mongolia, meat prices are highly seasonal, with meat…


credits to Erdenebat Nyamsuren

Let’s look at some recent data to understand the overview of the residential building industry. Majority of the residential buildings are from Ulaanbaatar the capital city of Mongolia and as we can see that peak of the industry was in 2015 and 1.6 trillion tugriks worth of residential buildings were finished. In subsequent years the supply of residential buildings has decreased dramatically by 44 percent in Ulaanbaatar. We may also say that supply has decreased due to a very low demand and other unknown economical factors which results in residential buildings price increase. Is this the reason why sellers are…


In 2016 a pivotal book in the field of data science was released. Weapons of Math Destruction, by Cathy O’Neil, makes the claim that the algorithms which promise to change our world for the better can also reinforce discrimination, unfair bias, and cause damage on a massive scale.

In this book and in a forthcoming research paper, O’Neil proposes that algorithms don’t just predict the future, they can also create it. As such she proposes the use of an “Ethical Matrix” be completed before such an algorithm is implemented. This matrix is designed to understand the real impact of an…

Mongolian Data Stories

Using data analysis, visualization, and machine learning to…

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