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 Jilin  (Chinese: 吉林; pinyin: Jílín; Wade-Giles: Chi-lin; Postal map spelling: Kirin; Manchu: Girin ula), is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west. The name was transliterated to Kirin before standardization to pinyin. The name "Jilin" probably originates from Girin ula, a Manchu term meaning "along the river." This was transcribed into Jilin wula (T: 吉林烏拉 / S: 吉林乌拉) in Chinese, then shortened to Jilin. The literal meaning of the Chinese characters for "Jilin" is "auspicious forest."

Jilin has played an integral part in both the history of China and the history of Korea. Korea has pointed to the unbroken period from 2333 B.C.E. to 926 C.E. when a succession of Korean kingdoms ruled the region: Gojoseon, Goguryeo, and Balhae. Since 926 C.E., various Chinese dynasties and people have ruled the region; still a large ethnic Korean population of over one million Koreans live in Jilin. Since North Korea's severe food shortages, especially in its northeast, began in the 1990s, North Koreans have sought to illegally migrate to Jilin, despite that both the Chinese and North Korean governments prohibit it. Although many international NGOs regard these migrants as refugees, China turns over those it catches to North Korean authorities, and the North punishes those who sought to escape.


Jilin is highest in altitude in the southeast, and its height drops gently towards the northwest. The Changbai Mountains run through its southeastern regions, and contains the highest peak of the province, Baiyun Peak, at 2691 m. Other mountain ranges include the Jilinhada Mountains, Zhang Guangcai Mountains, and Longgang Mountains.

Jilin is drained by the Yalu and Tumen Rivers in the extreme southwest (which together form the border between the People's Republic of China and North Korea), by tributaries of the Liao River along the southern border, and by the Songhua and Nen rivers, both eventually flowing into the Amur.

Jilin has a northerly continental monsoon climate, with long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Average January temperatures range from -20 to -14°C. Rainfall averages at 350 to 1000 mm.

Songhuahu Lake

Major Cities:

  • Changchun (长春)
  • Jilin City (吉林)
  • Siping (四平)
  • Liaoyuan (辽源)
  • Tonghua (通化)
  • Yanji (延吉)
  • Songyuan (松原)

Major Rivers and Lakes:

  • Songhua River
  • Tumen River
  • Liao River
  • Nen River
  • Yalu River
  • Songhua Lake


Jilin is not only one of the most economically important provinces, but it is also one of the main commodity grain producers in all of China. In 2000, the province's total agricultural output value was RMB 59.77 billion and its total grain output was 32.76 billion. Jilin's agricultural production is centered upon a variety of different crops, including soybean, corn, sorghum, millet, rice, small red bean, wheat, tuber, sunflower seeds, beets, and tobacco. Rice is mostly cultivated in the eastern parts, in areas like Yanbian prefecture. The herding of sheep is also an important activity in the western parts, in areas like Baicheng prefecture-level city. Jilin's 2.96 million hectares of prairies in the northwest make it an ideal place for animal husbandry production, and a major production base of commercial cattle and fine wool sheep in Northern China.

Jilin has abundant forest resources. The Changbai Mountain area is one of the largest forested areas in China, and it produces top grade pine trees, while also serving as the source of various precious traditional Chinese herbs such as ginseng and deer pilose antler, as well as native products such as mushrooms and fungi. It is also home to several types of rare animal breeds.

Hyesan City, DPRK from Changbai Prefecture, Jilin, China

Along with its importance as an agricultural center, the province is rich in mineral resources such as coal, iron, copper and gold, which are widely dispersed throughout the province. Compared to other parts of China, Jilin also has extensive deposits of Kieselguhr, wollastonite, floatstone, and molybdenum.

Jilin has a very strong industrial base, with more than 14,000 industrial enterprises and six dominant industry sectors. These six include the engineering, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, food, metallurgical and forestry industries. In addition to these six sectors, Jilin leads the country in its production of automobiles, railway cars, tractors, ferroalloy, carbonic products, timber, sugar, crude oil, vegetable oil and mineral products.

Jilin's nominal GDP for 2004 was 295.8 billion yuan (US$ 36.69 billion, which ranked it at 20th in the whole country. Its GDP per capita was 9,350 yuan (US$ 1,130).

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