Jilin (Chinese: 吉林; pinyin: Jílín; postal: Kirin) is one of the three provinces of Northeast China. Jilin borders North Korea and Russia to the east, Heilongjiang to the north, Liaoning to the south, and Inner Mongolia to the west.
In ancient times, Jilin was inhabited by the Xianbei, Sushen, the Mohe, Jurchens, and the Wùjí (勿吉). The Korean kingdoms of Buyeo, Goguryeo and Balhae ruled parts of this area.
The region then fell successively under the domination of the Xiongnu, Xianbei state, Khitan Liao Dynasty, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, and the Mongol Yuan dynasty. During the Qing Dynasty, much of the area was under the control of the General of Jilin (Girin i Jiyanggiyūn), whose area of control extended to the Sea of Japan to encompass much of what is Russia's Primorsky Krai today.
After the Primorsky Krai area was ceded to Russia in 1860, the Qing government began to open the area up to Han Chinese migrants, most of whom came from Shandong. By the beginning of the 20th century, Han Chinese had become the dominant ethnic group of the region. In 1932, the area was incorporated into Manchukuo, a puppet state set up by Japan. Changchun (then called Hsinking), capital of Jilin today, was made the capital of Manchukuo. After the defeat of Japan in 1945, the Soviet Army captured Jilin after Operation August Storm. The region, with the rest of northeastern China, was ceded to the Communists by the Soviet Union. Manchuria was the staging ground from which the communists eventually conquered the rest of China in the Chinese Civil War.
In 1949, Jilin province was smaller, encompassing only the environs of Changchun and Jilin City, and the capital was at Jilin City, while Changchun was a municipality independent from the province. In the 1950s, Jilin was expanded to its present borders. During the Cultural Revolution, Jilin was expanded again to include a part of Inner Mongolia, giving it a border with the independent state of Mongolia, though this was later reversed.
In recent times Jilin has, with the rest of heavy industry-based Northeast China, been facing economic difficulties with privatization. This prompted the central government to undertake a campaign called "Revitalize the Northeast".
Jilin lies in the central part of northeastern China, bordering Russia and North Korea in the east and southeast respectively. Jilin has an area of 190,000 km2 (73,000 sq mi) and a population of 27.3 million. Its capital is Changchun, which lies 113 km (70 mi) west of Jilin City. Jilin is rich in natural mineral deposits with 136 types of minerals, of which 70 have been extracted. Jilin has an abundance of Traditional Chinese medicine resources, with approximately 27,000 kinds of wild plants and 9,000 kinds of medicinal herbs.
The province is rich in large reserves of oil, gas, coal, iron mine, nickel, molybdenum, talc, graphite, gypsum, cement rock, gold and silver; its reserves of oil shale are the largest in the country.
Jilin is highest in altitude in the southeast and drops gently towards the northwest. The Changbai Mountains run through its southeastern regions and contains the highest peak of the province, Paektu Mountain at 2744 m. Other ranges include the Jilinhada Mountains, Zhang Guangcai Mountains, and Longgang Mountains.
Jilin is drained by the Yalu and Tumen rivers in the extreme southeast (which together form parts of the border between the People's Republic of China and North Korea), by tributaries of the Liao River in the southwest, and by the Songhua and Nen rivers in the north, both eventually flowing into the Amur.
Jilin has a northerly continental monsoon climate, with long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Average January temperatures range from -20 to -14°C. Rainfall averages at 350 to 1000 mm.
Major cities in this province include Changchun, Jilin City, Baishan, Baicheng, Siping, Yanji, Songyuan, Tonghua and Liaoyuan.