The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic tribes for centuries. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206 and came to rule much of Asia in its heyday. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty the Mongols returned to their earlier patterns. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, with a population of only around 3 million people.