Arvaikheer, ”barley steppe”, is the capital of the province of Övörkhangai and one of the most central points of Mongolia. It has a population of approximately 26000 inhabitants. The city is known for its craft industry, goat breeding and equestrian sports. Each year, a big regional equestrian festival takes place in the city.
Arvaikheer is located at 440 km (273,40 miles) at the southeast of Ulan-Bator, and a tarred road binds the two cities (the journey lasts about 6.30 hours).
Until 1990, Arvaikheer was the seat of an important division of the Soviet army, which had a deep influence on the daily life in the city. Nevertheless, after the fall of communism, many public buildings have been renovated or rebuilt, such as the Sports Centre in the east of the city, in front of which a big park was laid out. Another park was laid out in the west of the city centre. Most part of the population doesn't live in yurts, like in the other cities of the provinces, but in stone houses.
In the city centre, many modern buildings are interesting, such as the urban administration building or the theatre, that both have been recently renovated and are located on the central square. The main street of Arvaikheer is a large tree-lined avenue where two monuments dating back from communist period deserve to make a stop.
Gandan Muntsaglan Khiid is an important monastery located about 1,5 km (0,93 mile) from the central square. It was destroyed in 1937 on the orders of Horloogiin Choibalsan, but it reopened its doors in 1991. Today, approximately 60 monks live in the monastery.
The museum of the province houses many fossils and artefacts from Kharkhorin and deserves to be seen. Another museum is dedicated to the artist and first Bogd Gegeen Zanabazar.
Arvaikheer has a hospital, a nursery school and many schools and secondary schools. There are three hotels, a cybercafé and restaurants. Compared to other Mongolian cities, Arvaikheer has also many shops.
Arvaikheer enjoys a microclimate that benefits to all the centre of Mongolia. Climate is semiarid with mild summers and quite mild winters according to Mongolian standards. The thermal range is only 30°C (86°F) between January's temperature and July's, which makes this place the mildest of Mongolia with Tsetserleg in the province of Arkhangai.
Its geographical location, 1813 metres (1,13 mile) above the sea level, at the foothills of the mountains in the Eastern Khangai range, adds to its mildness, sheltering the city from the cold winds that are rife in the steppes. Most of the rains fall in summer, there is snow in spring and in autumn, and winters are very dry.