The Kalmyk people are the only people of Europe whose national religion is Buddhism.
They live in Kalmykia, located in southwestern Russia.
The Caspian Sea borders Kalmykia to the southeast.
The Kalmyks are the descendants of Oirats who migrated to Europe during the early part of the 17th century.
As Tibetan Buddhists, the Kalmyks regard the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader.
Kalmyk political refugees opened the first Buddhist temple in Central Europe, the Belgrade pagoda, located in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1929.
In the wake of the Second World War, an estimated 526 Kalmyk refugees migrated from West Germany and surrounding areas to America in the late 1951 and early 1952.
By 1962, the approximate Kalmyk population in the United States was 700.
There, they established several Kalmyk Buddhist temples in Monmouth County, New Jersey and its environs.
Ngawang Wangyal, a Kalmyk Buddhist monk, established the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center and monastery in Washington, New Jersey.
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