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Similarities and differences A bridge between Switzerland and Mongolia

Fifty years ago, Switzerland opened diplomatic relations with the then People’s Republic of Mongolia. Ten years ago, it started development cooperation. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is marking this double anniversary with a photo exhibition on what links the two countries – and what separates them.

Mongolia and Switzerland have more in common than you might think: wild, beautiful landscapes which cover a third of the country, an appreciation of tradition and culture, and a strong affinity with nature.

But there are also differences: unlike Switzerland, Mongolia is a poor country with a high proportion of young people. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line – despite economic growth and a wealth of natural resources. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Mongolians live under extreme climactic conditions: in the summer it is brutally hot, in the winter temperatures can drop to an icy -40 degrees.

For the past ten years Switzerland has been contributing to tackling poverty in Mongolia as part of a development cooperation programme. The Swiss are also supporting the process of building up a democratic society in this former Soviet satellite state, in the midst of a transformation.

The photography exhibitionexternal link in Bern puts the two countries side by side, comparing Switzerland with a country 7,000km away.

(Text: Gaby Ochsenbein,

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