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Heilongjiang

Heilongjiang (Simplified Chinese: ʡ; Traditional Chinese: ʡ; pinyin: Hilngjing; Postal map spelling: Heilungkiang; Manchu: Sahaliyan ula) is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur River. The one-character abbreviation is (pinyin: Hi), and the Manchu name of the region is Sahaliyan ula (literally meaning "Black river"), from which the name of Sakhalin island is derived. Heilongjiang borders Jilin to the south and Inner Mongolia to the west, and it also borders Russia to the north, with the Amur River marking the territorial border between the two countries. Heilongjiang contains both China's northernmost point (in Mohe County along the Amur) and easternmost point (at the junction of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers). Heilongjiang's culture is part of a culture of Northeast China that is relatively homogeneous across all northeastern China.

Heilongjiang's location in the furthermost northeast corner of China has cast the region's role in China. Situated on the border of Russia, with the Sea of Japan near at hand, Heilongjiang has been the point of contact between the three nations. The abundant natural resources have made the district important for China's economy, especially energy with huge oil reserves. Politically, Heilongjiang's role as the first region to come under communist control after the Soviet Union invaded at the close of World War II put the area center stage in China's political culture.

Geography

Heilongjiang is a land of varied topography. Much of the province is dominated by mountain ranges such as the Greater Khingan Range and Lesser Khingan Range, Zhangguangcai Mountains, Laoye Mountains, and Wanda Mountains. The highest peak is Mount Datudingzi at 1,690 m (5,545 ft), located onthe border with Jilin province. The Greater Khingan Range contains China's largest remaining virgin forest and is an important area for China's forestry industry.

Winter night in Harbin's Ice and Snow World.

Heilongjiang is one of Chinas water-rich provinces. The interior of the province, which is relatively flat and low in altitude, contains the Songhua River, the Nen River, and the Mudan River, all tributaries of the Amur, while the northern border forms part of the Amur valley. Xingkai Lake (or Khanka Lake) is found on the border with Russia's Primorsky Krai. The province's numerous rivers form five distinct water systems, and there are also about 6,000 lakes and reservoirs, covering a surface area of more than 800,000 hectares within the area. About 70 percent of Heilongjiang's rainfall concentrates in the warm season, providing an ideal environment for plants and crops to grow. This water system also provides rich, good quality water resources for agriculture, industry, and human consumption.

In addition to these water resources, the province also has a great deal of forest coverage, which provides many kinds of biological and rich mineral resources. Heilongjiang ranks first among all Chinese provinces in forested area, reserves of forest resources, and timber output. It contains the most important state-owned forest area and the largest timber center in China, and its forests also contain more than 100 species of trees, including 30 of high use-value.

Heilongjiang is subarctic in climate. Winters are long and frigid, with an average of −31 to −15C in January, and summers are short and cool with an average of 18 to 23C in July. The annual average rainfall is 500 to 600 mm, concentrated mostly in summer.

Economy

Heilongjiang is one of the country's most important commodity grain production bases, in terms of both total production and storage of grains. The agriculture of Heilongjiang, heavily defined by its cold climate, is based upon crops such as soybeans, maize, and wheat. The province's annual output and export of soybeans ranks first in the country, and its exports of soybeans make up two-thirds of the country's total. Other important commercial crops grown in the region include beets, flax, tobacco, potatoes, and sunflowers.

Heilongjiang's significant forested area serves as an important source of lumber for China. Pine, especially Korean pine and larch are the most important forms of lumber produced in the province. Forests are mostly found in the Daxingan Mountains and Xiaoxingan Mountains, which are also home to protected animal species such as the Siberian Tiger, the red-crowned crane, and the lynx.

Harbin.

Herding in Heilongjiang is centered upon horse and cattle. Heilongjiang has the greatest number of milk cows and the highest production of milk among all the province-level divisions of China.

Petroleum is of great importance in Heilongjiang, as it has the largest amount of oil resources in all of China. The Daqing oilfield is not only the largest in China, but it also serves as one of the few remaining large oil fields in the entire world. In addition to petroleum, several other important minerals are also found in Heilongjiang, including coal, gold, lead, and graphite. Heilongjiang also has great potential for wind power, with an average wind energy density of 200 watts per square metre. This combination of wind and petroleum resources makes Heilongjiang a strategic and important energy source for the People's Republic of China.

Heilongjiang is part of northeast China (Manchuria), the traditional base of industry for the People's Republic of China. Industry is focused upon coal, petroleum, lumber, machinery, and food, and although the economic output in Heilongjiang ranks first in the nation, 90 percent of the materials are exported to other parts of China. Due to its location, Heilongjiang is also an important gateway for trade with Russia. In recent years however, the province and the greater Manchuria area has suffered from stagnation. As a result, the government has started the Revitalize Northeast China campaign to deal with this problem, using privatization as the preferred method of economic reform.

In 2005, Heilongjiang's nominal GDP was 551 billion yuan (US$68.87 billion), an annual growth rate of 11.6 percent. Its per capita GDP was 14,430 yuan (US$1,762). Heilongjiang's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 67.25 billion yuan, 297.08 billion yuan, and 186.67 billion yuan respectively.The per capita disposable income of urban residents in Heilongjiang reached 8,273 yuan (over US$1,000), a rise of 10.7 percent from the previous year. The per capita net income of rural residents in the province surged 7.2 percent year-on-year to 3,221 yuan (US$400).

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