Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, it is located in the middle reaches of the Songhua River in the south of the province, which borders Russia in the north. The urban area is composed of seven districts: Daoli, Daowai, Nangang, Taiping, Xiangfang, Dongli and Pingfang. The whole city covers 1,637 square kilometres, with a population of 2.54 million.
Unlike most provincial capitals in China, Harbin has a very short history. It used to be a fishing village, and its name, in Manchu dialect, means drying fishnets. And it was incorporated as a town in 1898. Since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, it has rapidly evolved into an industrial city.
The Songhua River flows through the city from west to east, providing an ideal place for summer swimming. Winter is cold and long, usually lasting seven months from October to April. The long winter make up the famous art of ice sculpture. The major attractions include Sun Island, Yabuli International Ski Resort, stalin park.
The Sun Island is famous throughout the country as a resort, and it is one of northern China's most scenic spots. The island is in the Songhua River and contains many sanatoriums, pavilions, villas and kiosks surrounded by trees and flower beds.
With several highways and railways converging at Harbin, the city is an important transportation hub in northeastern China.