Dōngběi (东北) is a Chinese land situated in the northeast of the country and it corresponds to the three provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang. It also confines with three nations: Russia, Korea and Mongolia. This area was known by the Europeans as Manchuria since it was the homeland of the Manchu people, who ruled China from the 17th to the early 20th century founding the Qing dynasty.
The Northeast was one of the earliest regions to industrialize in China during the 20th century, thanks to its abundant coal reserves. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Northeast China continued to be a major industrial base of the country, so that it was called “the Republic’s eldest son”. Major cities include Shenyang, Dalian, Haerbin and Changchun, all with several million inhabitants.
The rural population of the Northeast is heavily concentrated in the southern part of the area. The northern half is so cold and poorly drained that agriculture is almost impossible; however, the massive presence of rivers provides rich fishing prospects.
The Public Republic of China officially recognizes 55 ethnic minority groups within China in addition to the Han majority.
In the Northeast, the Manchus from the most significant ethnic minority. Originally, the Manchus were a sedentary agricultural population who lived in villages. In their traditional culture, Manchu men used to shave the front of their heads while growing the hair on the back into a single braid.
Also, the Korean community is highly present in the area, the total population of Koreans in China is 1.1 million, 47.6% of them are living in Yanbian, located in Dōngběi. It’s interesting to know that the educational level of this community is above China’s national average. Due to the fact that the Chinese government is very supportive in preserving their language and culture, a lot of Korean schools and kindergartens are allowed to teach in the Korean language.
In the inhospitable northern margins of Dōngběi, live communities such as the Hezhe, one of the smallest minorities in China with only 1400 members. They are known as the “Fish Tribe”, because they are the only people in the world who make clothes out of fish skin: the fish is gutted, descaled, then dried and tanned and the skins sewed together to make light, waterproof coats, shoes, and gloves.
Credits to: Yao Tong, Riccardo Hu & Chiara Xu