Harbin Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > China > Harbin > History

Harbin is a thriving industrial city in Heilongjiang Province. It is not only the capital of Heilongjiang but it is also the political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications mecca of Northeast China. Referred to as the "pearl under the swan's neck", it is an artistic and symbolic reference to Harbin's geographical position as a powerhouse city under the neck of the wing-stretched, swan-shaped Heilongjiang Province.

Called the Oriental Moscow, Harbin is one of China's more beautiful cities. Blessed with grace and character, the city is renowned for its unique, Russian-influenced architecture. Remnants from the days when Harbin was a crucial stop on the Russian Manchurian Railroad, the dome-shaped structures are nostalgic throwbacks to pre-revolutionary Russia. The strong Russian flavor continues to permeate the city today due to burgeoning trade and tourism between Harbin and Russia. On the streets of Harbin, a fair amount of the foreigners are Russian. The city's mixture of grandiose historical buildings with the growing number of sleek and slick modern commercial and office buildings reflect the intriguing juxtaposition of Harbin's history and future.

Harbin city proper occupies a total area of 53,000 square kilometers and its urban areas take up 1,637 square kilometers. The city is clearly divided into seven districts.

Nangang 
This is the largest and most populated district in Harbin. Centrally located, it is home to major offices of the provincial government and is the political heart of Heilongjiang province. Other areas of interest within the district are the Harbin Railway Station, Guomao underground shopping street,
Confucius Temple and Jili Temple.

Daoli 
Situated in the northern part of the city, this major district is the site of the city's municipal government offices. As Harbin's economic and cultural district, Daoli is a must-see on most visitor's lists. It draws people due to its colorful Russian-style buildings,
Annual Ice Lantern Festival, and major community centers. Worth seeing here are the St. Sophia Cathedral, Zhongyang Department Store, Harbin First Department Store,
Anti-Flood Memorial Tower, and
Central Street.

Daowai 
Located south of Daoli, Daowai District is another important commercial district of Harbin. Containing many government bureaus and departments, this area is essential for many people intending to do business with the local government. The Songhua River flows through the district, dividing it into two distinct areas, the north and the south.

The north part is known for its scenic natural landscapes, of which
Sun Island is a prime example. The district is home to various minority ethnic groups who reside here such as Koreans, Mongolians and Russians. In comparison, the south part is far more developed. It is actually the birthplace of Harbin's bustling commerce and trade. This is reflected in the number of shops lining the streets such as Tongji Department Store, Lao Dingfeng Bakery, Heng De Li Clocks and Spectacles Shop, and Shi Yi Tang Drugstore. Recommended places to visit are the South Pole Food Wholesale Market, North Ring Metal and Building Materials Wholesale Market, and Jiang Pan Shoes Wholesale Market.

Dongli 
In English, "dongli" means motivating power. This district is of little sightseeing interest but it is the industrial heart of Harbin. First established in late 1958, this district was built on factories. Today, this area consists of the Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone, various state-owned enterprises, 14 universities and colleges, and 27 research institutes.

Taiping 
The Taiping District is found on the eastern side of Harbin. Of all the districts, this one is the least developed. Rural in landscape, this area is still significant due to the Harbin Port, which is one of China's eight river ports. From this port is a gateway to Russia. The district also has the city's largest highway transportation center and the Harbin East Railway Station.

Xiangfang 
Found in the southeast, this district's claim to importance is that it is one of the oldest parts of Harbin city. The district's name, xiangfang, means "a workshop for incense". The name was derived from the city's first incense workshop, which was established here in 1893.

Pingfang 
This is the smallest district in Harbin. Located at the southeastern tip of Harbin, it is the exit into nearby Jilin Province and Liaoning Province. This area is considered China's major aircraft, automobile and aluminium alloy manufacturing base. The historical remains of the Japanese Germ Warfare Experimental Base ┬ĘC 731 Division are found here. The site is open to the public today as a somber reminder of the horrors of war.

Mother Earth Travel > China > Harbin > History