Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, and the largest city in the northeastern region of China. Harbin, which was originally a Manchu word meaning “a place for drying fishing nets”, grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River to become a large city. Founded in 1898 with the coming of the Chinese Eastern Railway, the city first prospered as a region inhabited by immigrants from the Russian Empire.

Having the most bitterly cold winters, Harbin is known as the Ice City for its winter tourism, most notably around the time of its beautiful ice sculpture festival. In the 1920s, the city was considered China’s fashion capital since new designs from Paris and Moscow reached here first before arriving in Shanghai. The city was voted “China’s Top Tourist City” by the China National Tourism Administration in 2004, and on 22 June 2010, Harbin was appointed a “City of Music” by the UN.