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Changbai Volcano and the Land of the Leopard
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Changbaishan, the tallest mountain in Northeastern China, is a dormant volcano that has erupted six times since the beginning of the Qing Dynasty.  As a Manchu ruler, the mountain was regarded as sacred, the crown of the Manchu Holy Land.  It is called Paekdusan in Korea and is also sacred to the Koreans as one of the sites of the nation’s foundation myths.  It is said that the legendary first Korean, Tangun, was born here, the result of a union between the semi-divine King Hwanung and a bear.  It is a kind of Korean Mount Fuji.  The China/North Korea border, running right down the middle of the Lake of Celestial Bathing (Heaven’s Pond, Tianchi) in the volcano’s crater, divides the mountain in half.  You can often see two different weather systems on each side of the mountain as if they are too respectful to pass over the peak.  Others say there are monsters in the lake, a kind of Chinese Loch Ness, and they are an important part of local folklore.

The Tinachi waterfall, cascading sixty-eight meters from the crater, is the world's highest volcanic waterfall.  Water comes from the lake that is 2,189 meters above sea level.  Changbaishan is the source of the Songhua River.  The Tumen and the Yalu rivers also start in the Changbaishan Biosphere Reserve that borders the Paekdusan National Park in North Korea.

More than 50 mammal species and 300 bird species have been recorded on Changbaishan.  Mammals include Fareast leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), lynx (Lynx lynx), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), red deer (C. elaphus), goral (Nemorhaedus goral), wild boar (Sus scrofa), otter (Lutra lutra), and sable (Martes zibellina).Birds include rare species such as black stork (Ciconia nigra), Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), and scaly-sided merganser (Mergus squamatus).
The internationally famous Changbaishan NNR is a Man and the Biosphere Reserve and the most prominent protected area in the ecoregion and the site of many research projects.  On the North Korean side it borders Paekdusan National Park.  On the northeastern border of this ecoregion there is a vital link in tiger and leopard habitat formed by Hunchun NNR in China and three border nature reserves in southern Primorsky Province in Russia (Kedrovaya Pad, Barsovy, and Borisovskoye Plateau)

This area also known as as the Land of the Leopard has the highest level of biodiversity at Russian Far East (about 2000 vascular plants, 326 birds, 66 mammals). The nesting area for 176 birds, including 35 in Red Data Book of Russia. The important stopover for migratory birds on North East Asia flyway (2-3 millions of migrants) and very important site for the sea birds (breeding about 100 thousands and wintering up to 200 thousands). The breeding area for isolated population of 14 Siberian tigers and 30-35 Amur leopards (the most of world-wide population of this subspecies). This is the only wildness corridor for leopard, tiger and many other species between Russia, China and Korea peninsula.

Fareast Leopard

Photo by V.Solkin



Amur-Heilong on the Globe

Topography of Amur Heilong River basin

Political divisions



Introductory tour of Amur basin



GIS: Amur-Heilong Natural  Heritage


Frozen Pool of Heaven. Changbai Mountains Bioshpere Reserve. (Photo by E.Simonov)


Also look:

Amur-Heilong River Basin at a glance


Temperate forests:

Manchurian mixed forests

Changbai Mountains mixed forests


Global 200 Dauria Steppe

Daurian forest steppe

Mongolian-Manchurian grassland


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