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Denver Used to Be Home to the World’s Largest Community of Mongolian Immigrants

James Wagenlander makes it sound magical. He describes that moment when a Mongolian lands at Denver International Airport, steps outside, and is greeted by swaths of great plains leading towards majestic mountains. A landscape reminiscent of their native country. And in that brief moment, they’ll elate a gasp of appreciation that sounds something like whah! It’s a common expression that Wagenlander, a Denver lawyer who has worked with Colorado’s Mongolian community since the late 1980s, is happy to hear.

That specific “whah” was used regularly in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the Denver metro area was home to the largest community of Mongolians living outside of the central Asian country. Around 2,000 to 3,000 Mongolian immigrants called the area home at the time. And while U.S. Census data from 2019 estimates the community now has only about 1,000 people here, the Mile High City’s history with the country is still…

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