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Airbnb on the Mongolian steppe

A girl stands in the doorway of her family's ger, the traditional home of Mongolian nomadic herders, in Altanbulag, Mongolia, on July 28. Her family has recently begun accepting guests via Airbnb. (Photo by Taylor Weidman)

TOV PROVINCE, Mongolia On the vast green Mongolian grasslands, something unexpected is happening: Enterprising nomadic herders have started using Airbnb to reach out to a world beyond their pastures, promoting their humble yurts as accommodations to a growing number of intrepid tourists.

It is a startling move in Mongolia, where the digital divide is massive. According to the World Bank, only 27% of the population uses the internet, and low-income families, the elderly and those in rural areas often lack access. Still, some nomadic herders are jumping over the divide to connect to a global market, promote their unique lifestyle, book homestays and generate additional income streams for their households.

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