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About Harbin

Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province and the largest city in Northeast China, making it the eight-most populous metropolitan in China. It serves as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural, and communications hub in Northeast China. While Dalian is considered the region’s shipping centre and Shenyang its financial hub, Harbin is striving towards becoming the key trade and shipping centre of the region. In the 1920s, the city was considered China’s fashion capital since design from Paris and Moscow arrived there before arriving in Shanghai. The city still plays an important part in Sino-Russian trade today. Harbin is sometimes referred to as ‘Ice City’ for its bitterly cold winters and well-known winter tourism and recreations. The local culture is based on Han Chinese, combined with Manchu- and Russian culture. This combination influences the local architecture style, food, music, and customs.

Harbin is also home to Harbin Institute of Technology, one of China’s better-known universities. The university developed, since it was founded in 1920, into an important research university focusing on engineering.

Harbin has a monsoon-influenced and humid continental climate. The city is known for its coldest weather and longest winter among major Chinese cities, as a result of its Siberian high and its location above 45 degrees north latitude. Winters are dry and bitterly cold with averages of -18.4 C. Summers can be hot, with July’s mean temperature being 23 C. However, Summer is also when most of the year’s rainfall occurs. 

Interesting facts

  • Harbin has a lot of nicknames: the Oldest Son of the People’s Republic of China, Ice City, the City of Music, a Pearl under the Neck of the Swan, Oriental Moscow, and Oriental Little Paris. 
  • Recent smog pollution caused the average life expectancy to decline with 5.5 years.
  • Harbin is world famous for its annual snow and ice sculpting winter fests.

Top three activities

  • Visit the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, which is the largest ice and snow festival in the world.
  • Go dog-sledding for a few days in the outback or just try it for an afternoon.
  • Go ice skating on the Songhua River.

Facts about Harbin

Population      5,800,000
Size (km²)7,068
Life expectancy84 years
GDP per capita$4,700

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