Manchuria (zhalong Nature Reserve)

Manchuria is a historical region in East Asia that includes parts of Northern China, Inner Mongolia, and the Russian Far East.

Manchuria is one of China’s largest industrial regions, bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by the Amur River, on the west by the Khingan Mountains, and on the south by the Chinese Wall.

The ethnic composition of modern Manchuria, as a consequence of the complex historical processes in its territory, is very motley.

Historical region of China

The ancient peoples who inhabited Manchuria were engaged in hunting, cattle breeding and primitive agriculture. They were divided into nomadic Mongols, known as the Kidan, and the settled Manchu tribes, who gave the whole land its name. In 1000 BC the Tungus tribes raided Manchuria from the north, and in 200-220 BC the Han (Chinese) moved from the south.

In the old days, these lands were constantly at war, countless states were created and disintegrated. Relative stability came at the beginning of the XII century with the establishment of the domination of the Jurchens – Tungus tribes, who founded the Jin dynasty (1115-1234), which ruled until the conquest of Manchuria by the Mongols. The brutal rule of the conquerors forced the Chinese to revolt, expel the Mongols in the second half of the 14th century and establish the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

The Ming Empire was not strong enough to resist its neighbors. At the end of the 16th century, Aixingyoro Nurhatsi (1559-1626), one of the leaders of the Churchens, gathered a strong army of Churchens and Mongols, took away the Ming Empire’s possessions and in 1616 proclaimed himself emperor of the Manchurian Da Jin Empire, in the modern spelling Qing (1644-1912). At the same time the Jurchens began to call themselves Manchus.

In 1644, the Manchus marched on Beijing, crossed the Great Wall of China, captured the city and annexed all of China to their Qing Empire, the last of the imperial dynasties that ruled China until the proclamation of the Republic and the secession of Outer Mongolia as a result of the Xinhai Revolution in 1911.

At the end of the XVII century, the first clash between the Chinese and Russians took place on the northern border of Manchuria during the Russian-Chinese war of 1658. As a result of the unsuccessful war for the Russians, the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689 was signed, according to which the Russian-Chinese border passed along the Amur and Argun rivers.

However, the interior of Manchuria remained sparsely populated for a long time: only nomadic Mongol tribes lived there.

The emperors of the Qing dynasty encouraged the resettlement of the Chinese in Manchuria in every possible way, and in the 19th century this process became massive, and the Chinese soon made up the overwhelming majority in these places.

At the end of the 19th century, Japanese influence in Manchuria increased. Concerned about its remote, sparsely populated East Siberian and Far Eastern possessions, the Russian Empire, which also planned to annex Manchurian territories, hastily added, in addition to the Trans-Siberian Railway, a new line, the Chinese Eastern Railway, as the shortest route to Harbin. In 1901, the city of Manchuria was founded near the Russian-Chinese border (located in the eastern part of present-day Inner Mongolia (PRC). Friction between Russia and Japan resulted in a military conflict and led to the defeat of the Russian army in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905.

After the Japanese Kwantung Army conquered Manchuria in 1931, the puppet state of Manchukuo existed on its territory for 13 years. This political and administrative entity ceased to exist after World War II, when on August 19, 1945 Russian soldiers captured the last emperor of China in Mukden (modern Shenyang) and Pu Yi (1906-1967) abdicated.

In 1949 the People’s Republic of China was formed and the territory of Manchuria was included in its composition in the form of several provinces.

On modern maps of China the name Manchuria is used only for the city near the border with the Russian Federation, and the name Dongbei – Northern Provinces, or Northeast, uniting the provinces of Heilongjiang, Girin and Liaoning and the northeastern part of the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, is used to refer to the historical area.

Manchuria is generally mountainous except for its central and southern parts. In the center of Manchuria spreads a plain formed by river sediment. Mountains run along the borders of Manchuria in the northeast and southeast. The Great Khingan Range is the natural boundary separating the Manchurian part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region from the rest of its territory lying to the west. The rivers of Manchuria are large and full-flowing (Amur, Sungari).

Due to the peculiarities of the relief, cold air stagnates in the intermountain area and the climate is harsh, but the local descendants of nomadic peoples have long since gotten used to the low temperatures and penetrating winds.

The Chinese authorities’ policy of Chineseization of the national peripheries has not bypassed Manchuria. As part of the PRC, Manchuria lost its administrative identity and remained only a historically formed region of the Northeastern provinces (common name Dongbei). Currently, only about 7 million people call themselves Manchus out of a total population of about 120 million.
Manchuria is no longer the backward agricultural region it was for centuries.

Heilongjiang Province has the largest hard coal reserves in Northeast China. The same province, the richest forest in China, supplies timber for the whole country. It is also home to the well-known border economic cooperation and trade zones of Heihe, Dongying and Suifenhe, which are well known in the Russian Far East. About 1 million tourists from Russia visit this border province every year. One of the most famous sights of Heilongjiang Province is Jingbo Lake, or Mirror Lake, in the Wandashan Mountains, formed after a volcanic eruption. There are several interesting natural sites here: the Underground Forest Cave, the world-famous Geological Park and the Primitive Crater Forest natural area of all-China significance.

Guirin Province is mostly flat and is one of the most important areas for the cultivation of cereals such as rice, maize and sorghum. However, due to irrational soil utilization in the fields of Northeast China, the thickness of the black soil layer has decreased by 50% over the past half century.

The foothills of the Changbaishan Mountains are the main forest development area in Manchuria. Girin Province is best known for its pharmaceutical enterprises, where medicines based on ginseng and deer antlers, the most important elements of traditional Chinese medicine, are made. The main attractions of Girin Province are the buildings of the Goguryeo culture era (37 BC – 668 AD), included in the UNESCO World Heritage List: Hwangdo Mountain Fortress (3 AD), Gungnae Fortress (3 AD), General’s (Eastern) Pyramid (V century). There are also the volcano Pektusan (White-headed Mountain) with the crater lake Tianchi, or Cheonji (Heavenly), ancient burial grounds on Longtau Mountain (VI-X centuries.) with the mausoleum of Princess Chong He (late VIII century.).

Liaoning Province is the most economically developed province in northeastern China, with numerous petrochemical, iron and steel, machinery and telecommunications industries. The most notable sights of these places are the Mukden Palace of the first emperors of the Manchu dynasty of China – Nurhatsi and Abahai (the first half of the XVII century), several imperial tombs of the Ming and Qing eras, the mountain town of Wunu with archaeological finds of 4500 years ago and the Jade Buddha Garden in the city of Anshan, where there is the largest statue of Buddha carved from jade, weighing 260 tons.

Today, Manchuria remains an important region with economic potential, thanks in part to its natural resources and industrial enterprises.

General Information

  • Location: Northeast of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Administrative composition: Liaoning, Girin and Heilongjiang provinces, as well as the northeastern part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
  • Administrative centers: Harbin (Heilongjiang) – 10,635,971 (2010), Shenyang (Liaoning) – 8,106,171 (2010), Changchun (Guirin) – 7,459,005 (2010), Huh-Hoto (Inner Mongolia) – 2,866,615 (2010).
  • Languages: Chinese (Mandarin or North Chinese), Korean, Manchurian.
  • Ethnic composition: Chinese (Han Chinese) – more than 90%, Mongols, Manchurians, Koreans.
  • Religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, shamanism (non-Han Chinese); formally atheism.
  • Currency unit: yuan.
  • The largest cities: Dalian (Liaoning) – 6 170 000 people (2009), Tsitsikar (Heilongjiang) – 5 367 003 people (2010), Girin (Girin) – 4414 681 people (2010), Anshan (Liaoning) – 3 645 884 people (2010), Fushun (Liaoning) – 2 138 090 people (2010).
  • The largest rivers: Sungari (Sunghuatsjiang, the longest), Amur (Heihe), Liaohe.
  • Neighboring countries and territories: in the east, north, north-west – the Russian Federation, in the south-west – Hebei Province of China, in the south – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
  • The most important airports: Zhoushuizi (Dalian, Liaoning), Taoxian (Shenyang, Liaoning).
  • Area: 801,600 km2.
  • Population: about 120 million people (2011).
  • Population density: 149.7 people/km2.
  • Highest point: Paektusan (Girin), 2,744 m.
  • Climate and weather
  • Temperate monsoonal on the coast, sharply continental in the inland areas.
  • Average temperature in January: -12°C in the south, -20°C in the north.
  • Average temperature in July: +25°C in the south, +23°C in the north.
  • Average annual precipitation: 350-600 mm.
  • Relative humidity: 75%.


  • There are no general statistics for Manchuria. Significant growth in GRP and GRP per capita has been observed since the introduction in 2007 of the state program of economic revitalization of the Northeast.
    program to revitalize the economy of the Northeast of the PRC in 2007.
  • The most developed province is Liaoning: in 2010, the share of industry amounted to 54% and services – 37%.
  • GRP of Manchuria: 1.63 trillion yuan (2002).
  • GRP per capita: $4000 (2002).
  • Minerals: coal, oil, ores (iron and aluminum), marble, basalt, graphite.
  • Industry: mining, metallurgy, woodworking, chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, machinery, automobile, energy.
  • Agriculture: plant growing (cotton, cereals, soybeans, potatoes, vegetables), cattle breeding.
  • Fishing.


  • Heilongjiang Province: Zhalong Nature Reserve, Jingpohu volcanic lake or Mirror Lake (Wandashan Mountains), “Underground Forest” cave, geological park, “Primitive Crater Forest”;
  • Girin Province: buildings of Goguryeo culture era (Hwangdo Mountain Fortress (3 AD), Gungnae Fortress (3 AD), General’s (Eastern) Pyramid (V c. ), the volcano Baektusan (White-headed Mountain) with the crater lake Tianchi, or Cheonji (sacred Heavenly Lake), ancient burials on Longtau Mountain (VI-X centuries.) and the mausoleum of Princess Chong He (late VIII century.);
  • Liaoning Province: the mountain town of Wunu, Jade Buddha Garden and the largest Buddha statue, Meteor Mountain Forest Park;
  • Harbin City (Heilongjiang): Sun Island Park, Erlunshan Mountain, Sophia Square, Central Street (late 19th century), Jilesa Buddhist Temple (first half of the 20th century), Dragon Tower (Heilongjiang Province TV tower, early 21st century), Northeast Tiger Park, Museum of Evidence of Crimes of the Japanese “Unit 731”.
  • Shenyang City (Liaoning): Fulin (Donglin) – the burial place of the Qing emperor Aisinguioro Nurhaci (1559-1626), Zhaoling (Beilin) – the burial place of the Qing emperor Aisinguioro Abahai (1592-1643), Mukden Palace of the first emperors of the Manchu dynasty of China – Nurhaci and Abahai (first half of the XVII century);
  • Changchun city (Guirin): Weihuanggong – the imperial residence of Manchuoguo (in 1932-1945 the last Chinese emperor Pu Yi lived here), Nanhu Forest Park on the Jing-Yue Lake, Changchun Cinema City, Precious Pagoda of the Liao Dynasty (X-XII cc.).

Fun Facts

  • Dragon Tower is a TV tower in Heilongjiang Province, one of the tallest in Asia, 336 meters high. It was built in 2002.
  • In Girin Province, the largest stone meteorite fell in 1976 with a total mass of up to 4000 kg; about 100 of its fragments weigh 2700 kg, the largest fragment – called Jilin – weighs 1770 kg.
  • Harbin Central Street is the longest pedestrian street in Asia: length 1450 m, width with sidewalks – 21.34 m.
  • The city of Harbin was founded by Russians in 1898 as the Sungari railroad station – the first station of the Trans-Manchurian Railway. One of the founders of the city was Nikolai Sergeevich Sviyagin (1856-1924), who led the construction of the Trans-Manchurian Railway (after the revolution he died and was buried in Harbin). The first Harbin Russians were mostly construction workers and clerks and moved to Harbin to work on the railroad.
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