AMUR-HEILONG RIVER BASIN

 

All chapters:

Introduction

Climate

Waters and water management

Ecosystems and ecoregions

Species diversity and use of biological resources

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas

Countries & cultures

Economy

Land use

International policy

Countries & Cultures
Migration and Immigration
Related maps, pictures, links

We can confidently state that regular migration was an important part of almost all indigenous cultures of the Amur region, from nomadic Mongols to very mobile Owenke (Evenki) hunters and reindeer herders. Many tribes moved widely across enormous areas between the eastern shore of Lake Baikal and the mouth of the Amur/Heilong River, responding to changing availability of resources, climate fluctuations, and conflicts with neighbors.

One of the largest historical migrations occurred in the times of Genghis Khan and his heirs, and resulted in spreading Mongolian rule west to Moscow and east to Beijing.

Over the last 300 years most migrations were connected with the uneasy and uneven relationships between Chinese and Russian empires that came into contact right in the middle of the Amur Basin. The Daur nation once plowed land in the Middle Amur, near Blagoveshensk, but now resides in the Great Hinggan foothills in Inner Mongolia. The Mongolian tribe of Barga came from the Barguzin valley near Lake Baikal and now occupies a wide line of steppes in Hulunbuir and East Mongolia. The Tazy ethnic group, whose range is confined to several villages in the Southern Sikhote-Alin Mountains in Primorsky, came into being after mixed-blood descendants of Chinese merchants and Nanai, Udege, Ulchi indigenous people were brought together in one concentration camp by Soviet rule in the 1930s.

Han Chinese started actively settling the Amur-Heilong Basin starting in the 1850s after the Emperor lifted a ban protecting Manchu nation ancestral grounds. This was done partly in response to the policies of the Russian emperor, who encouraged eastward migration from European Russia.

Russians also migrated in small numbers to North East China in search of gold or to flee from the religious prosecution of old-believers, this starting in the 17 century. Each of the time's Russian-Chinese treaties stressed “returning subjects who illegally crossed the border and settled”, something not rigorously implemented by the Chinese, judging by the presence of well established Russian minority villages in Inner Mongolia.

In the early 1900s, several hundred thousand Russians, Ukrainians and Jews moved to northeast China in conjunction with the development of the East China Railway. Following the revolution and civil war, political refugees fleeing the Soviet regime added to the emigration and by the 1920s the Russian population of Harbin reached 300 000. Most of those immigrants subsequently left for western countries during the Japanese occupation and Cultural Revolution.

Much of the population of the Russian part of the basin is either first-generation migrants or immediate descendents of migrants from other regions of the former Soviet Union. The 2002 census shows a 10 percent drop in population from the early 1980s due primarily to out-migration to other parts of Russia and the former Soviet Union where standards of living are higher. This trend continues and some analysts believe that the Russian Far East and Chita lost more than one million people in just the last decade.

Immigration from the surrounding countries of Northeast Asia, especially China and Korea, has been an important factor in Russian Far East policy and economy for at least three centuries. Government has generally lacked the capacity to control the numbers, activities, and economic influence of these immigrants. The Russian Empire developed various policies to suppress and regulate the influx of Asian nationals who were generally better adapted to local conditions than settlers from European Russia and Siberia . Nevertheless, by the early 20 th century, a population of 500,000 Chinese and Korean nationals was involved in agriculture, trade, various extractive industries, and even public construction works in the RFE. In the aftermath of the 1917 Socialist Revolution, the Soviet government occasionally expelled Asian immigrants. But transboundary movements of people have been and continue to be a natural response to economic opportunities. To sustain economic growth at an annual 7% rate, the RFE needs about 6.7 million additional workers; the current total population does not even reach this figure. This leaves 21 st century Russia deciding whether to accept a potentially advantageous influx of work-hungry immigrants or to persist with ineffective, prohibitive policies in the interest of protecting the territorial and economic sovereignty of an area many Russians wish to leave.

Immigrants to Russia are mainly seasonal workers and short-term residents. Their numbers in Amur Basin rarely exceed 300,000 in any year but their economic impact is much greater and has a profound influence on regional trade and natural resource use.

Map collection: Countries & cultures

 

Maps:

Amur on the globe

Political map of Amur Heilong River basin

Population of AHRB in 1990s

 

Photo: Countries & cultures

Russia

Mongolia

China

 

GIS: Population and administrative division

 

Nomadic lifestyle survives modern era. Huihe. Inner Mongolia. (Photo by E.Simonov)

Also look:

Countries and provinces

 

Population density and demographic trends

Mongolia Population

China Population

Russia Population

 

Cultures and languages

Ethnic groups in Mongolia

Ethnic groups in China

Ethnic groups in Russia

 

Full contents
Full digest
Full atlas
All pictures
GIS