With a long history, Harbin was the birthplace of Jin and Qing Dynasties. Over 40 nationalities (including Han Nationality) live in the area of Harbin. In the early 20th century, Harbin was an international commercial and trade city, boasting consulates of 16 countries, over 30 foreign companies and more than 60,000 foreigners from 18 countries. In recent years, Harbin has become the largest open city near the border in northeast China.

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Songhua River originates from the Heavenly Lake in Changbai Mountains and makes a swift turn in the southeast part of Heilongjiang Province. Thus, Harbin gradually came into existence at 12542′-13010′ east longitude and 4404′-4641′ north latitude. If the map of Heilongjiang Province can be regarded as a flying swan then Harbin looks just like a pearl under its beautiful neck. There are 7 districts and 12 counties (cities) in Harbin. With a total area of 53,166 square kilometers and a population of 9.4623 million (3.2986 million in the city), Harbin is the largest and most populous city among provincial capitals as well as the center of politics, economy, science & technology, culture and transportation in the northern part of northeast China.

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Located in the Northern Temperate Zone, Harbin has an annual precipitation of 462 mm while the annual average temperature in the city proper is 4.3C. the highest monthly average temperature is 23.2C and the lowest is 15.8C below zero.

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Natural Ecological Environment

With a temperate continental climate, Harbin is rich in resources. It is one of the most important agricultural areas in China. Noted for the high-quality agricultural products such as rice, peas, and corn, Harbin also boasts a large area of forest where there are many species of trees such as Red Pine trees, larches, and birches and where rare animals such as Manchurian tigers, bears and 40 species of birds can be found. In addition, there are also wild economic plants in the mountainous areas such as ginseng black agaric and mushrooms and dozens of minerals underground such as cuprum, iron and coal.

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Cultural activities in Harbin are booming. The concert entitled "Summer of Harbin", first held in 1961 and becoming a traditional event since then, has brought Harbin a reputation of being a city of music. It is a grand national music event co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Harbin Municipal Government. The Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin is world-renowned. The art of making ice lanterns is one of the three most famous ice and snow arts in the world.

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A Survey of Tourist Industry

Harbin is a tourist city with special glamour in northern China. Lying to the north of Changbai Mountains and south of Small Xing'an Mountains, with Songhua River running across its middle part. There are 7 districts and 12 counties (cities) in Harbin. It is the biggest city among provincial capitals in China covering an area of 56,000 square kilometers and with a total population of 9.6 million (3.8 million in the city proper). As the capital city of Heilongjiang Province, it is the center of politics, economy, science & technology, culture and transportation in the northern part of northeast China. Harbin is often poetically called "the pearl under the neck of swan".

With a reputation of being a tourist city, Harbin is full of strong northern features. In the beginning of the 20th century when the Zhongdong Railway was built, Harbin was the first open city to accept modern civilization. At that time, Harbin was one of the embarkation places for European culture, with consulates of 16 countries, over 30 foreign companies and large numbers of foreign immigrants (170,000 at the highest). The influx of European culture can be seen in the architectural style. Harbin then had the first skiing stadium, cinema and tourist train in China, which has become part of the main body of the city's culture, which is also represented by the pedestrian street in the Central Avenue, St. Sofia Church and Stalin Park where the Tower of Fighting Against Flood stands and the Sun Island where the European buildings muster. Harbin is therefore called "Oriental Moscow" and "Small Oriental Paris". Rich in tourist resources, Harbin has various cultural forms such as the culture of Ice and Snow, the culture of European style, the culture of forest, the culture of Jinyuan and the folk-custom culture.

Tourist programs in Harbin are conspicuously different in winter and summer. Of the three generally recognized tourist resources, ice and snow, forest and ocean, Harbin is endowed with two, which makes it incomparable to the other tourist cities in China. The Culture of Ice and Snow is the most important tourist resource in Harbin. Every year, the ice lanterns, snow sculpture, scenery of ice and snow and the related entertainment programs attract millions of tourists from home and abroad. Built in 1996, Yabuli Skiing Resort gave a boost to the tourism of ice and snow, enriching the cultural implication of urban tourism of the city. The skiing sport has become a trend of consumption and a new way of recreation for both tourists and local residents. As to the forest culture, the traditional scenic spot Yuquan Hunting Ground, after several years' reform and rebuilding, has become the largest enclosed hunting spot in Asia. The primitive forests around Harbin are ideal for future forest tourism and hunting tourism.

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Architectural Style

The urban architecture in Harbin is of special charm among the large cities in China. The European structures, the traditional Chinese classical structures as well as several modern structures make the city a combination of Chinese and Western styles and give the city a sense of a museum of architecture. Go to the Central Avenue and you will see many structures of Gothic, baroque, eclecticism, neo-artistic movement and post-modernism on both sides of this 100-year-old street, whispering to you about its history and its people.

While in the city proper, you will find some traditional Chinese buildings such as Harbin Ship Design Institute, Confucius Temple, Friendship Palace, and the No.3 Middle School. Suppose you can see the whole city from above, you will find many high buildings under your feet. The residential neighborhoods have different characteristics and the Sunshine Hall on the Hongbo Square is shining. The Songhua River is like a colorful waving belt. The structures in Harbin are like fixed musical notes, with the romance of medieval Europe, the elegance of ancient China and the openness of the modern world.

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Local Culture

Festival of Ice and Snow
Established on January 5th, 1985, Festival of Ice and Snow in Harbin used to be a cultural and sport festival. But now it has become a grand festival including finance, economic trade, tourism, culture and sports. Celebration of Ice Lamps in the Parks, the most important component, has been held 25 times. The competition of snow sculpture and ice sculpture is a display of the art of snow and ice.
The tourism of ice and snow in Harbin develops quickly and has been included in the list of 35 key tourist attractions in China. The beautiful Sun Island is selected as a nationally recommended tour route, and the ice and snow tourism as special tour spot. Harbin has established long-term business relationship with over 60 tourist organizations and institutions in over 20 countries. The Festival of Ice and Snow in Harbin will attract more and more tourists from all over the world.

Concert of "Summer in Harbin"
It has been 38 years since the first Concert of "Summer in Harbin" was held in 1961. it has become a music gathering for the local people and promoted the development of musical cause in Harbin. The 24th Concert of "Summer in Harbin" was held jointly by the Ministry of Culture and the People's Government of Harbin. Bearing in mind the efforts to invigorating elegant art and promoting the national musical art, the organizers have made great contributions to the development and prosperity of China's musical art. The August in Harbin is an enjoyable season. The Concert of "Summer in Harbin" also provides you with great happiness. Harbin Committee of CPC, City Government and 9.6 million people warmly welcome the musical artists and groups to visit Harbin to bring your talents into full play.

Harbin Economic and Trade Fair
Held from June 15 to June 21 each year, Harbin Economic and Trade Fair is one of the large-scale regional fairs under the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic cooperation. Initiated in 1990 and hosted by provincial and Harbin governments, it is a comprehensive commercial fair involving imports and exports. Each year, the business guests from home and abroad will take part to pursue trade and economic cooperation here. Located at the central part of northeast Asia, Harbin is an important port for the trade with Russia. Harbin Economic and Trade Fair has become a bridge to the market in Russia and other CIS countries and will offer more opportunities for Chinese and foreign businesses.

Heilongjiang International Skiing Festival
The unique snow and ice natural resources, magnificent ice and snow sculpturing art and various kinds of snow and ice related sports or relaxation of Harbin City makes it a perfect resort for snow and ice related activities. The Hei Long Jiang International Skiing Festival is sponsored by China Tourism Bureau and the Governments of Hei Long Jiang Province and Harbin City. Each festival will open on December 5 and end on January 5 next year. The opening ceremony is held in Ya Bu Li Skiing Zone where you can see skiing shows, bonfire concerts, skiing photographic exhibitions, tourist goods & souvenir exhibitions skiing equipment exhibitions. At the same time, it is also a kind of international trade fair and business negotiation as well as local cuisine tasting festival.

Expo of Ice Lamps
he celebration of ice lamps in the parks has been included in the list of 35 best tourist attractions in China and becomes an important window of displaying economic development and the people's material and spiritual living conditions. It has strengthened the friendship between local residents and foreign guests. The top leaders of China, Jiang Zeming, Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Li Ruihuan, Tian Jiyun, Qian Qichen, Li Tieying have visited here and sang their praises. Many foreign leaders, diplomats and great numbers of compatriots from HK SAR, Macao and Taiwan have come from afar to watch the ice lamps and snow. The ice lamps create beautiful life and world. As an ambassador of friendship and culture, the ice lamps in Harbin are worldly recognized. More and more people in the world will arrive to experience the unique charm of this famous art.

Celebration of Snow Sculpture in the Parks
Celebration of Snow Sculpture is held annually in the parks. The city and castle made of snow stand high and erect and command a magnificent view, resembling items of silver and jade. These sculptures made by top craftsmen and/or selected from the competitions at all levels have different features, concrete or abstract, heavy or gentle, deformed of strange, penetrating or thrilling.

Ice Sailing Boat
Ice sailing boat first made its appearance in 1954. equipped with a sail and a rudder, the boat can carry 4 to 5 persons at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour. Because of its flexibility, unique shape, and brand new form, the domestic and foreign tourists like very much to take this colorful boat.

The Art of Ice Lanterns in Harbin
The art of ice lanterns in Harbin is famous at home and abroad. The artists create objects of different shapes with ice such as palaces, bridges, mountains, and waterfalls. In the daytime, the ice lanterns are crystals of various forms. At night, these lanterns become colorful mountains and pavilions. Since these ice lanterns are different each year, they are reputed as "Fairy World".

Winter Swimming in Harbin
Winter Swimming is a quite popular sport in Harbin. The swimmers do swimming in the icy water in winter while the other people look on wearing thick clothes. Combining bodybuilding and performance, winter swimming is, in a sense, a combat against the chilly weather. Therefore, many tourists consider it as an incredible sport by brave people.

The Folk Customs
Many ethnic groups live in Harbin. Man, Korean and Hui take the majority in the ethnic groups. Heilongjiang province is the birthplace of Man People who have many traditional rites. The cheongsam of Man People is popular nationwide. The annual celebration of ice lamps in the parks originates from the Man people's custom of watching ice lamps on January 15 of the lunar year. Korean People have their own customs in daily life. They are good at sports, singing and dancing. Hui People use Chinese language but believe in Islam. Their new-birth babies will get a name from a priest. After they die, they will be cleaned and wrapped with white cloth. They never eat pork and meat of horse, donkey and dog as well as animal blood and animals of natural death. Each year they celebrate three festivals.

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Geography   Climate   Natural Ecological Environment   Culture    A Survey of Tourist Industry   Local and Culture   Shopping
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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.

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