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Natural and Cultural Heritage of Amur- Heilong
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The Amur-Heilong River Basin has many unique areas, each with its own history and mysteries.  We have decided to introduce three of them here to exemplify natural wonders and historic heritage of the region. We also developed a GIS project Amur-Heilong Natural Heritage which describes many more great places throughout the river basin.

Cradle of the Mongolian Nation

The magnificent valleys of Onon Dauria, where Genghis was proclaimed as the Khan of Khans, still retain their primeval spirit.  Dozens of places in what’s now Russia, Mongolia and China continue to claim the title to the birthplace and\or last retreat of the warrior and these countries are interconnected by the mysterious “Wall of Genghis” that dissects the region for several hundred kilometers.  More than eight centuries after Genghis Khan died, the debate continues to smolder over the real birthplace and the location of the grave of the ancient warrior who ruled over one of the largest empires in history.  After his death at the age of 65, Genghis was buried by generals who went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the grave.  Every one of the 2,000 people who attended his funeral was reportedly massacred by 800 soldiers, who in turn were killed to ensure his rest was undisturbed.

The foothills of Henty Mountains in Henti Aimag of Mongolia in the Onon-Balj National Park are believed to be the most likely birthplace and burial place of Genghis Khan.  His birthplace is thought to be at Dadal Soum, an attractive wooded area in Northwest Hentii region, while town of Batshireet in Khentii Province, 200 miles northeast of the capital, Ulan Bator, is one of likely locations of his tomb.

Changaishan Volcano

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.

Hinggan Gorges of Amur-Heilong River

The Amur-Heilong River cuts through the Hinggan Range in a spectacular narrow gorge famous for its scenic beauty.  The mighty Amur, squeezed by forested mountains, rushes towards the ocean with tremendous energy and speed, overlooked by peaceful and colorful canopy of Korean pines, oaks and ash trees.  Border rivers still provide spawning habitat chum salmon, upstream run most remote from the Pacific.  An altar is erected to commemorate the fact that just 100 years ago, during the 1900 war with the Russians, the Chinese army was saved from hunger and defeat by chum salmon coming for spawning in the nearby tributary now called Tamahahe (Salmon river).

The Hinggan Gorges are navigable only in the June to September high water period.  These gorges give visitors a deep insight into the spirit of the Black Dragon River.  Downstream of the Gorges, the waters open up into a 1,500 kilometer journey to the Pacific Ocean.

Ancient grave. Onon Balj National Park. Henti. Eastern Mongolia. (Photo by Vadim Kiriliuk)

Please look at Amur-Heilong Natural Heritage GIS project


Amur-Heilong on the Globe

Topography of Amur Heilong River basin

Political divisions

Small Hinggan transboundary area (Manchurian forests ecoregion)

Dauria Steppe Global 200 ecoregion


Introductory tour of Amur basin

Small Hinggan


Daurian steppe

Three gorges of the Dragon River

GIS: Amur-Heilong Natural  Heritage


Sacred Oboo in the forests of Onon Balj National Park. Henti. (Photo by E.Simonov)


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


Hinggan Gorge. Taipinggou. (Photo by Eugene Simonov)


Amur river (Photo by Yuri Darman)

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


Cultures and languages


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