Imagine a world where social connection isn’t just about online interactions, but a way of life deeply ingrained in the culture. Welcome to Mongolia, the world’s most socially connected place. According to a recent Gallup report, 95% of Mongolians feel very and fairly connected to other people, surpassing countries like Kosovo and Taiwan. So, what makes Mongolia so unique in fostering such strong social connections?
The answer lies in the traditional housing arrangement of Mongolians – the ger, also known as a yurt. Gers are round felt tents covered in weatherproof canvas, designed to suit the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolians. These dwellings have no interior walls, and families, whether small or large, live together under one roof. Sleeping on the floor, sharing bedding made from sheep wool, and cooking on a single stove, Mongolians embrace communal living in their gers.
In urban areas like the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, ger neighborhoods coexist with high rises and coffee shops. Navigating these neighborhoods can be a challenge, as there are no street names or grid layouts. Instead, people rely on each other for directions, reinforcing social connections over technology.
The close-knit nature of ger life extends beyond immediate family members. In rural areas, every family member, including grandparents, has assigned chores, fostering interdependence and strong bonds. Siblings often live in separate gers just steps away, allowing for constant interaction and support.
Renowned for their spiritual beliefs, Mongolians attribute their values and behaviors to the influence of the ger. The circular and dome shape of the ger symbolizes the combination of religion and life, concentrating people’s spirits. A study conducted among Mongolian yurt dwellers demonstrated their higher rates of satisfaction compared to those living in urban housing. This finding aligns with the Mongolian emphasis on nature and freedom, which gers effectively facilitate.
Gers not only provide a connection to their cultural heritage but also to nature itself. Mongolia’s vast wilderness calls for reliance on one another, fostering a sense of community and the importance of family. As band manager Tuga Namgur puts it, “Family is everything to my culture.” Despite living in Chicago, Namgur manages a band based in Mongolia, emphasizing the role of social connections and familial ties in Mongolian society.
The social connection in Mongolia goes beyond familial relationships. It extends to neighbors, whole towns, and provinces. Many Mongolians return to their hometowns during the summer to escape the hectic city life and reconnect with extended family. The tight-knit communities formed within Mongolia further strengthen the bonds of social connectedness.
Curiously, Mongolians exhibit a trusting nature that is a testament to their strong social connections. Unlike Westerners who rely on security alarms, Mongolians leave their gers unlocked when they are away, trusting that guests can enter, help themselves to food and shelter, and find solace from the harsh weather.
While the rest of the world grapples with feelings of disconnection and loneliness, Mongolia stands out as an example of a society deeply rooted in social connectedness. The ger life, with its emphasis on communal living, interdependence, and reliance on nature, fosters a sense of belonging and strength in social bonds. So, perhaps it’s time for us to take a page from Mongolia’s book and explore ways to prioritize meaningful connections in our own lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a ger?
A ger, also known as a yurt, is a traditional round felt tent covered in weatherproof canvas. It is a housing structure designed to accommodate the nomadic lifestyle of Mongolians.
2. How do gers contribute to social connectedness in Mongolia?
Gers have no interior walls, promoting communal living. Families, regardless of size, sleep on the floor together, cook on a single stove, and share a common space. This fosters closeness, interdependence, and strong relationships.
3. Why is social connectedness important?
Social connectedness is crucial for individual well-being and community resilience. It provides a support system, reduces feelings of loneliness, and contributes to overall happiness and satisfaction.
4. How does the circular shape of the ger influence Mongolian culture?
The circular shape of the ger symbolizes the combination of religion and life, concentrating people’s spirits. Mongolians attribute their values and behaviors to the influence of the ger, fostering a sense of unity and connection to their cultural heritage.
5. How does living in gers foster a connection to nature?
Gers enable Mongolians to experience the wilderness and rely on one another for survival. The close connection to nature reinforces social connections and emphasizes the importance of community and family.