Coordinates: 51°59′N 116°35′E / 51.98°N 116.58°E / 51.98; 116.58

Coat of arms of Nerchinsk

Nerchinsk (Russian: Не́рчинск) is a town and the administrative center of Nerchinsky District of Zabaykalsky Krai, Russia, located 644 kilometers (400 mi) east of Lake Baikal, 305 kilometers (190 mi) east of Chita, and about 225 kilometers (140 mi) west of the Chinese border on the left bank of the Nercha River, 7 kilometers (4.3 mi) above its confluence with the Shilka River, which flows into the Amur. Population: 14,976 (2010 Census preliminary results);[1] 15,748 (2002 Census);[2] 16,961 (1989 Census);[3] 6,713 (1897).

It is served by the Nerchinsk Airport.


Town name in other languages

Nerchinsk is mentioned in two important treaties between Imperial Russia and Manchu China, the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk and the 1727 Treaty of Kyakhta. Non-Russian comments on these treaties or on the history of the town may mention other names:

  • Latin: Nipchou or Nipcha (however, the Treaty of Kyakhta called the town Nipkoa).
  • Manchu: Nibcu hoton.
  • Chinese: 泥樸處, later changed to 尼布楚; Pinyin: Níbùchǔ


A postcard with Butin's Palace in Nerchinsk

The fort of Nerchinsk dates from 1654 and the town was founded four years later by Afanasy Pashkov, who in that year opened direct communication between the Russian settlements in Transbaikalia and those on the Amur River which had been founded by Cossacks and fur-traders coming from the Yakutsk region. In 1689, the Treaty of Nerchinsk was signed between Russia and China, which stopped the farther advance of the Russians into the basin of the Amur for two centuries. See Russian-Manchu border conflicts.

After that, Nerchinsk became the chief center for the trade with China. The opening of the western route through Mongolia, by Urga, and the establishment of a custom-house at Kyakhta in 1728 diverted this trade into a new channel. But Nerchinsk acquired fresh importance from the influx of immigrants, mostly exiles, into eastern Dauria, the discovery of rich mines and the arrival of great numbers of convicts to the Nerchinsk katorga, and ultimately it became the chief town of Transbaikalia.

Nerchinsk was visited by the famous English adventurer and engineer Samuel Bentham in 1782. Bentham had seen a potential for Nerchinsk as a base for an access to the Sea of Okhotsk, provided the navigation of the Amur River would be authorized by the Chinese. It would have opened up the possibility of fur trade with the Pacific Ocean, as far as the Chinese port of Canton.

In 1812 Nerchinsk was transferred from the banks of the Shilka to its present site, on account of the floods. The town relinquished its supremacy to Chita in the late 19th century, when it was bypassed by the Trans-Siberian Railway.

20th century

In the early 20th century, Nerchinsk was built of wood, and its lower parts frequently suffered from inundations. The inhabitants supported themselves mainly by agriculture, tobacco-growing and cattle-breeding; a few merchants traded in furs and cattle, in brick-tea from China, and manufactured wares from Russia. Gold-mines in the vicinity were owned and developed by the Butin family of merchants, whose Neo-Moorish palace now stands in disrepair.

Today, Nerchinsk is home to some small electromechanical and food-processing industries. It has a small museum, established in 1884. Among its sights are the Resurrection Cathedral, built in the Neoclassical style in 1825 to commemorate the city's relocation, its belltower destroyed by the Communists. The site of old Nerchinsk is marked by the Assumption Monastery, the oldest in Dauria, founded in 1664. Its cathedral, consecrated in 1712, is the easternmost building in the Muscovite Baroque style.


  1. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal State Statistics Service) (2011). "Предварительные итоги Всероссийской переписи населения 2010 года (Preliminary results of the 2010 All-Russian Population Census)" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2010). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  2. ^ Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal State Statistics Service) (2004-05-21). "Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек (Population of Russia, its federal districts, federal subjects, districts, urban localities, rural localities—administrative centers, and rural localities with population of over 3,000)" (in Russian). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года (All-Russia Population Census of 2002). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  3. ^ "Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров. (All Union Population Census of 1989. Present population of union and autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts and okrugs, krais, oblasts, districts, urban settlements, and villages serving as district administrative centers.)" (in Russian). Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года (All-Union Population Census of 1989). Demoscope Weekly (website of the Institute of Demographics of the State University—Higher School of Economics. 1989. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 

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