Discuss as:

Nuggets of gold on a journey across the Mongolian steppe

Photographer David Gray has been traveling across a small part of Mongolia, which is the least densely populated country on the planet according to figures cited by Reuters. The population of just 2.7 million is spread across an area three times the size of France, with two-fifths of Mongolians living in rural areas. 

David Gray / Reuters

Horses graze on grasslands south-west of the Mongolian capital city Ulan Bator on April 4, 2012.

David Gray / Reuters

A painting of the former Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan hangs from the wall of a mining hut located around 62 miles north of Ulan Bator on April 5, 2012.

David Gray / Reuters

A frozen river is seen next to a group of houses located on the outskirts of the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator on April 3, 2012.

Reuters examines the political situation in Mongolia ahead of parliamentary elections in June

Mongolia sits on vast quantities of untapped mineral wealth, the exploitation of which is likely to turn it into one of the world's fastest growing economies over the next decade. 

But political uncertainty worries investors. One of the parties in Mongolia's shaky coalition government said it would pull out before the vote, and politicians are under constant pressure to be seen to getting a good deal for the country from resources investors.

The priority for Mongolia is the development of its tiny economy, and foreign investors want to know if the government can create a stable legal environment while handling the pressures exerted by impatient citizens as well as its two giant neighbours, Russia and China. Read more.

David Gray / Reuters

A herder stands on a hill overlooking grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator on April 4, 2012.

David Gray / Reuters

A dog sits at the door to a house in a small township located on grasslands south-west of Ulan Bator on April 4, 2012.

David Gray / Reuters

A woman performs a water displacement test to determine the purity of some gold that was brought in by small-scale miners at a processing plant north of Ulan Bator on April 5, 2012. The International Monetary Fund estimates Mongolia's GDP could grow as much as 10 percent this year, helped by rising gold prices but there is concern over environmental standards in the mining industry.