Map of Jilin Heilongjiang Liaoning Inner Mongolia Russia North Korea

Jilin Province

Name ( lín) ['lucky' 'forest'] Old Name Kirin WG
Population27.518 million (2.00 %) [21st] comparison table
Area187,000 km2 [72,201 mile2] (1.95 %) [13th]
GDP50,162 (5.52 %) [13th]
Position of Jilin in China
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Symbols and Motifs

Symbols and Motifs


Chinese arts and handicrafts are full of hidden symbols. Bats, goldfish, peonies and bees all give a specific meaning to a painting or decoration. Exploring the world of Chinese symbolism opens up a whole new layer of appreciation.

Jilin is part of ’Manchuria’ the north-eastern region of China. The name ‘Jilin’ comes from the Manchu word for the Songhua river ‘Jilinwula’. It was part of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo before Jilin was conquered during the Chinese Han dynasty. The General's Tomb at Ji'an is a monument dating to this period. Jilin reached its greatest geographical extent during Qing dynasty times, the lands east of the Wusuli (Ussuri) River on the north Pacific were under its control, including Hǎishēnwǎi (Vladivostok) and even Sakhalin island to the north of Japan. These lands were given up to the Russians in the Amur Annexation (1858-60). Rapid industrial development began under the Japanese occupation when it was part of the kingdom of Manchuguo (Manchukuo WG) 1933-45.

The mountainous south eastern region that borders North Korea is home to a high proportion of Korean ethnic people. In the north-west lies a plain of rich agricultural land producing much corn and soy beans. It also has fine pasture for sheep and cattle. Around Tonghua in the south east the mountains provide ideal conditions for growing vines.

Jilin, Changchun, lake
South lake park, Changchun city, Jilin Copyright © Dreamstime see image license
Jilin, Changbai, tree
Forest in the Changbai Mountains, Jilin

Places to visit in Jilin

Imperial servants - the eunuchs

Imperial servants - the eunuchs


For over two thousand years the Chinese Emperor was served by a large number of Imperial servants who had castrated as young boys. With no possibility of having children themselves they were seen as having more loyalty to the Emperor than the Emperor's often scheming family. Some eunuchs became fabulously rich as a result of their total control of access to the Emperor.

Changchun, Jilin's largest industrial city, is famous for its car and truck factories. It has the former palace of the last Qing emperor Puyi who was set up as Manchuguo's ruler; at this time Changchun was known as ‘Xinjing’ (New Capital). Jilin City to the east of Changchun is important for industry - three large chemical plants were built in 1949. It is the site of the Wenmiao Confucian Temple. The ski resort at Songhua Lake attests to the cold winter weather in the province. It is also renowned for the frost covered trees which are produced when ice droplets form from the mist created by a nearby hydro-electric plant.

Jilin, Rime island, ice
Rime Island, Jilin in Winter
Tue 12th Sep

Mulberry bark money

Among the most influential inventions of the Chinese has been paper money. While the rest of the world was lugging around silver and gold China had made the break in the Tang dynasty around 800CE. In China the problem was that normal coinage was in standard bronze discs. The coins had a hole in the middle so they could be strung together in groups of 100. A string of cash was a heavy and inaccurate unit of currency (some traders would claim a 'complete' string which would only have 65 coins). How much better to carry around IOUs rather than cash? As long as the IOU was unequivocally signed by a reputable merchant it was just as valuable as thecoins it represented.

The problem of metal coins was particularly acute when the government forced Sichuan province to use iron coins. As soon as the government saw that the system of IOUs was working well they of course stepped in and made it a government monopoly.

At the same time counterfeiters threatened the new currency and for that reason in the reign of Kublai Khan (1279-1294) Marco Polo witnessed the use of money in the form of strips of black mulberry bark which was then marked with the red seal of the Emperor (only the Emperor was allowed to write in vermillion ink). The bark had to be specially processed and so the notes were hard to forge. An even rarer form of currency had been attempted much earlier in the Han dynasty (175 BCE) when Emperor Wudi introduced money made from pieces of hide from rare white stags.

As the issuing of paper money did not have to be backed by actual silver and gold the modern system was born where a government can just print money to get itself out of (or into!) financial difficulties.

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Ji'an on the Yalu River was the capital of the Korean Goguryeo kingdom and is now the border crossing into North Korea. There are tombs and other remains as evidence of the old Korean kingdom and ethnic Korean people predominate. Lake Tian (Heavenly Lake) is a scenic spot in the far south. It is an old volcanic crater lake and straddles the border of Jilin with North Korea. The Longtan Deer farm is a popular tourist attraction nearby. Tianchi is within the Changbai (forever white) mountain range which has thick snow cover in winter. The mountainous terrain and forests are still home to snow leopards and tigers. This area produces considerable quantities of the medicinal herb ginseng.

Jilin has a very cold winter climate; the north-western part is on a flat plain and has fertile agricultural land.

Jilin, Changbai, lake, view
Crater lake, Tian chi on the border of China and North Korea

Jilin Climate

Temperature axisClimate ChartRainfall axis
Climate chart for Jilin
Both Temp Rainfall ° C/mms ° F/ins Key
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Major CitiesPopulation
Changchun 2,541,700
Gongzhuling 358,668
Jilin City 1,283,000
Liaoyuan 386,844
Shuangliao 386,844
Siping 392,581
Tonghua 389,701
Yanji 345,077


Changchun Longjia International Airport 长春龙嘉国际机场 CGQ IATA / ZYCC ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 19.3 miles (31.0 kms) from Changchun
International Links to :Japan Korea
See map of location Changchun Longjia International Airport


Jilin University

After re-organizations in 1948 the Shenyang site was chosen for the North-eastern Administration College. It became Jilin University in 2000 after merging with other local higher education establishments. It covers all the main disciplines but is reknowned for engineering subjects and natural sciences.. Undergraduates: 43024, Postgraduates: 24021, International students: 1272, GP World ranking 455

City populations for 2012, Province statistics National Bureau of Statistics 2014

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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Jilin Province in Northern China', last updated 25 Nov 2016, Web,

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