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Harbin (Heilongjiang) City Information

(Latest information update as at 2012)

Major Economic Indicators (2012)

Land Area (km²)53,796
Population (million)9.94
GDP (RMB billion)455.01
GDP Composition
Primary Industry11.1%
Secondary Industry (Industry & Contruction)36.1%
Tertiary Industry (Service)52.8%
GDP Per Capita (RMB)45,810
Unemployment Rate3.39%
Fixed Asset Investment (RMB billion)395
Utilized FDI (USD million)1,900
Total Import & Export (USD million)5,330
Export (USD million)1,860
Import (USD million)3,470
Sales of Consumer Goods (RMB billion)239.46
Source: Harbin Economic and Social Development Report 2012


Located in the Harbin-Daqing-Qiqihar Industrial Corridor, Harbin is the political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications center of Heilongjiang Province, as well as an important industrial base of the nation. Its name is originally a Manchurian word, meaning “a place for drying fishing nets”.

Harbin received its nickname “the pearl on the swan's neck”, because the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan. The architecture in the city brings it the name of “Oriental Moscow” or “Oriental Paris”. Harbin is also known as “Ice City” for its longest and coldest winter in China. The average temperature in summer is 21.2°C-16.8°C in winter, and even as cold as -38.1°C on occasion.

Economic Features

Harbin is the largest economy in Heilongjiang province. In 2012, the city's GDP rose 10.0% year on year to RMB 455.01 billion.

In 2012, value-added industrial output from enterprises with designated size or above of the city amounted to RMB 67.74 billion, up 10% year on year. Light industry and heavy industry rose 12.4% and 7.6% year on year to RMB 35.51 billion and RMB 32.23 billion respectively, which accounting for 52.4% and 47.6% of the city's industrial sector.

The pillar industries of Harbin are equipment  manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food processing and petrochemicals. In 2012, the combined value-added industrial output of the four pillar industries amounted to RMB 56.24 billion, up 9.5% year on year, accounting for 83% of the industrial sector's total. Among them, equipment manufacturing has RMB 14.33 billion value added industrial output.

Service industry has seen stable growth in recent years. In 2012, value added industrial output of the service industry amounted to RMB 240.44 billion, accounting for 52.8% of the city's GDP. Retail and tourism are the key industries for the service sector. In 2012, sales of consumer goods of the city rose 15.7% to RMB 239.46 billion. In 2012, more than 50.76 million tourists have visited the city, while the tourism income amounted to RMB 55.43 billion.

In 2012, Harbin's total foreign trade reached US$5.33 billion, up 4.2% from 2011 .Exports amounted to US$1.86 billion while imports amounted to US$3.47 billion, down 17.8% and up 21.7% year on year, respectively. U.S., Russia, India and Brazil are the major foreign trade partner.

Harbin is one of the major destinations of FDI in Heilongjiang. In 2012 the city's utilized FDI amounted to US$1.9 billion, increased 18.8% year on year. The foreign investments focus on electronics, food, chemicals, the light industry, energy and real estate.

Cultural Highlights

Harbin was strongly influenced by Russian culture. The economy and culture of Harbin grew rapidly at the end of the 19th century, when Russia built the Middle East Railway terminus here; later, more than 160,000 foreigners from 33 countries migrated to Harbin, promoting the development of a capitalist economy in the city. As a result, Harbin gradually grew into a famous international commercial port, and its cityscape was shaped by the mixed people and culture. It is famous for its Russian and European architecture.

Due to its long and cold winter, Harbin is also well-known for its winter culture. The “Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival” is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival. It has been held since 1985, and includes winter activities such as Yabuli Alpine Skiing, winter-swimming in Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden.

Tourist Attraction

In Harbin, tourists can enjoy a variety of architectural styles. The Central Street, also known as Kitaiskaia St, is a representation of different architectural styles. Along this 1.4-km-long street, there are Baroque and Byzantine façades, little Russian bakeries, French fashion houses, American eateries, and Japanese restaurants. St. Sophia Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church, is located in this central district of Daoli. It took nine years to build the church, and was completed in 1932. It is now a museum, displaying the multi- cultural architecture of Harbin.

The local people in Harbin have created a very distinctive food culture, which reflects Harbin's history and special geographical position; examples include foods typical of North-east China: dumplings, bread and sausages. However, there is also a variety of eastern and western cuisines thanks to the influence of neighboring Russia, and a number of authentic western food restaurants can be seen there.

Major Development Zones

Area (km²)
Pillar Industries
GDP in 2010
(RMB billion)
Harbin Economic & Technological Development Zone
Automobiles and auto parts, medicine, food, electronics, textiles
Harbin Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone
Optical-mechanical-electrical integration, biology, medicine, electronics and information technology
Source: National Development and Reform Commission


"China Top 100 City for investment environment" (2006)
- National Bureau of Statistics, PRC

"China Top Tourist City" (2004)
- National Tourism Administration

Content provided by China Knowledge