|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.
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
Confucius Temple and Jili Temple.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 ¨C 731 Division are found here. The site
is open to the public today as a somber reminder of the horrors of war.