1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Khingan

KHINGAN, two ranges of mountains in eastern Asia.

(1) Great Khingan is the eastern border ridge of the immense plateau which may be traced from the Himalaya to Bering Strait and from the Tian-shan Mountains to the Khingan Mountains. It is well known from 50° N. to Kalgan (41° N., 115° E.), where it is crossed by the highway from Urga to Peking. As a border ridge of the Mongolian plateau, it possesses very great orographical importance, in that it is an important climatic boundary, and constitutes the western limits of the Manchurian flora. The base of its western slope, which is very gentle, lies at altitudes of 3000 to 3500 ft. Its crest rises to 4800 to 6500 ft., but its eastern slope sinks very precipitately to the plains of Manchuria, which have only 1500 to 2000 ft. of altitude. On this stretch one or two subordinate ridges, parallel to the main range and separated from it by longitudinal valleys, fringe its eastern slope, thus marking two different terraces and giving to the whole system a width of from 80 to 100 m. Basalts, trachytes and other volcanic formations are found in the main range and on its south-eastern slopes. The range was in volcanic activity in 1720–1721.

South-west of Peking the Great Khingan is continued by the In-shan mountains, which exhibit similar features to those of the Great Khingan, and represent the same terraced escarpment of the Mongolian plateau. Moreover, it appears from the map of the Russian General Staff (surveys of Skassi, V. A. Obruchev, G. N. Potanin, &c.) that similar terrace-shaped escarpments—but considerably wider apart than in Manchuria—occur in the Shan-si province of China, along the southern border of the South Mongolian plateau. These escarpments are pierced by the Yellow River or Hwang-ho south of the Great Wall, between 38° and 39° N., and in all probability a border range homologous to the Great Khingan separates the upper tributaries of the Hwang-ho (namely the Tan-ho) from those of the Yang-tsze-kiang. But according to Obruchev the escarpments of the Wei-tsi-shan and Lu-huang-lin, by which southern Ordos drops towards the Wei-ho (tributary of the Hwang-ho), can hardly be taken as corresponding to the Kalgan escarpment. They fall with gentle slopes only towards the high plains on the south of them, while a steep descent towards the low plain seems to exist further south only, between 32° and 34°. Thus the southern continuations of the Great Khingan, south of 38° N., possibly consist of two separate escarpments. At its northern end the place where the Great Khingan is pierced by the Amur has not been ascertained by direct observation. Prince P. Kropotkin considers that the upper Amur emerges from the high plateau and its border-ridge, the Khingan, below Albazin and above Kumara.[1] If this view prevail—Petermann has adopted it for his map of Asia, and it has been upheld in all the Gotha publications—it would appear that the Great Khingan joins the Stanovoi ridge or Jukjur, in that portion of it which faces the west coast of the Sea of Okhotsk. At any rate the Khingan, separating the Mongolian plateau from the much lower plains of the Sungari and the Nonni, is one of the most important orographical dividing-lines in Asia.

See Semenov’s Geographical Dictionary (in Russian); D. V. Putiata, Expedition to the Khingan in 1891 (St Petersburg, 1893); Potanin, “Journey to the Khingan,” in Izvestia Russ. Geog. Soc. (1901).

(2) The name Little Khingan is applied indiscriminately to two distinct mountain ranges. The proper application of the term would be to reserve it for the typical range which the Amur pierces 40 m. below Ekaterino-Nikolsk (on the Amur), and which is also known as the Bureya mountains, and as Dusse-alin. This range, which may be traced from the Amur to the Sea of Okhotsk, seems to be cleft twice by the Sungari and to be continued under different local names in the same south-westerly direction to the peninsula of Liao-tung in Manchuria. The other range to which the name of Little Khingan is applied is that of the Ilkhuri-alin mountains (51° N., 122°–126° E.), which run in a north-westerly direction between the upper Nonni and the Amur, west of Blagovyeshchensk.  (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.) 

  1. See his sketch of the orography of East Siberia (French trans., with addenda, published by the Institut Géographique of Brussels in 1902).