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Hēilóngjiāng forms the northernmost part of the region formerly known as Manchuria. Like the other provinces in China’s Dōngběi (northeast), Hēilóngjiāng’s recent history has been influenced by its neighbours, notably Russia, which borders the province to the north and east.

During the mid-1800s Russia annexed parts of Hēilóngjiāng’s territory, and in the late 1890s its influence in the region strengthened when Russian workers began the construction of a railway line that linked Vladivostok with Hāěrbīn as well as with Dàlián.

Hēilóngjiāng also saw an influx of Russian refugees following the Russian revolution in 1917. Hāěrbīn still retains Russian-style buildings constructed during this era.