1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kirin
KIRIN, a province of central Manchuria, with a capital bearing the same name. The province has an area of 90,000 sq. m., and a population of 6,500,000. The chief towns besides the capital are Kwang-chêng-tsze, 80 m. N.W. of the capital, and Harbin on the Sungari river. The city of Kirin is situated at the foot of the Lau-Ye-Ling mountains, on the left bank of the Sungari or Girin-ula, there 300 yds. wide, and is served by a branch of the Manchurian railway. The situation is one of exceptional beauty; but the streets are narrow, irregular and indescribably filthy. The western part of the town is built upon a swamp and is under water a great part of the year. The dockyards are supplied with machinery from Europe and are efficient. Tobacco is the principal article of trade, the kind grown in the province being greatly prized throughout the Chinese empire under the name of “Manchu leaf.” Formerly ginseng was also an important staple, but the supply from this quarter of the country has been exhausted. Outside the town lies a plain “thickly covered with open coffins containing the dead bodies of Chinese emigrants exposed for identification and removal by their friends; if no claim is made during ten years the remains are buried on the spot.” Kirin was chosen by the emperor K’anghi as a military post during the wars with the Eleuths; and it owes its Chinese name of Ch’uen-ch’ang, i.e. Naval Yard, to his building there the vessels for the transport of his troops. The population was estimated at 300,000 in 1812; in 1909 it was about 120,000.