Harbin is a sub-provincial city and the provincial capital of Heilongjiang province, People's Republic of China, as well as the second largest city by urban population and largest city by metropolitan population in Northeast China. Harbin has direct jurisdiction over nine metropolitan districts, two county-level cities and seven counties, is the eighth most populous Chinese city according to the 2010 census, the built-up area had 5,282,093 inhabitants, while the total metropolitan population was up to 10,635,971. Harbin serves as a key political, scientific and communications hub in Northeast China, as well as an important industrial base of the nation. Harbin, whose name was a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets", grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River to become one of the largest cities in Northeast China. Founded in 1898 with the coming of the Chinese Eastern Railway, the city first prospered as a region inhabited by an overwhelming majority of immigrants from the Russian Empire.

With its harsh winters, Harbin is heralded as the Ice City for its well-known winter tourism and recreations. Harbin is notable for its beautiful ice sculpture festival in the winter. Besides being well known for its historical Russian legacy, the city serves as an important gateway in Sino-Russian trade today. 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 Top Tourist City" by the China National Tourism Administration in 2004. Human settlement in the Harbin area dates from at least 2200 BC during the late Stone Age. Wanyan Aguda, the founder and first emperor of the Jin dynasty, was born in the Jurchen Wanyan tribes who resided near the Ashi River in this region. In AD 1115 Aguda established Jin's capital Shangjing Huining Prefecture in today's Acheng District of Harbin. After Aguda's death, the new emperor Wanyan Sheng ordered the construction of a new city on a uniform plan.

The planning and construction emulated major Chinese cities, in particular Bianjing, although the Jin capital was smaller than its Northern Song prototype. Huining Prefecture served as the first superior capital of the Jin empire until Wanyan Liang moved the capital to Yanjing in 1153. Liang went so far as to destroy all palaces in his former capital in 1157. Wanyan Liang's successor Wanyan Yong restored the city and established it as a secondary capital in 1173. Ruins of the Shangjing Huining Prefecture were discovered and excavated about 2 km from present-day Acheng's central urban area; the site of the old Jin capital ruins is a national historic reserve, includes the Jin Dynasty History Museum. The museum, open to the public, was renovated in late 2005. Mounted statues of Aguda and of his chief commander Wanyan Zonghan stand in the grounds of the museum. Many of the artifacts found. After the Mongol conquest of the Jin Empire, Huining Prefecture was abandoned. In the 17th century, the Manchus used building materials from Huining Prefecture to construct their new stronghold in Alchuka.

The region of Harbin remained rural until the 1800s, with over ten villages and about 30,000 people in the city's present-day urban districts by the end of the 19th century. A small village in 1898 grew into the modern city of Harbin. Polish engineer Adam Szydłowski drew plans for the city following the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, which the Russian Empire had financed; the Russians selected Harbin as the base of their administration over this railway and the Chinese Eastern Railway Zone. The railways were constructed by Russian engineers and indentured workers; the Chinese Eastern Railway extended the Trans-Siberian Railway: reducing the distance from Chita to Vladivostok and linking the new port city of Dalny and the Russian Naval Base Port Arthur. The settlement founded by the Russian-owned Chinese Eastern Railway turned into a "boomtown," growing into a city within five years; the majority of the Russians who settled in Harbin came from southern Russia, the dialect of Russian spoken in Harbin was derivative of the dialect of Russian spoken in Odessa.

In addition there were many Ukrainians, Poles and Tatars, The city was intended as a showcase for Russian imperialism in Asia and the American scholar Simon Karlinsky, born in Harbin in 1924 into a Russian Jewish family wrote that in Harbin: "the buildings and parks were planned—well before the October Revolution—by distinguished Russian architects and by Swiss and Italian town planners", giving the city a European appearance. Starting in the late 19th century, a mass influx of Han Chinese arrived in Manchuria, taking advantage of the rich soils, founded farms which soon turned Manchuria into the "breadbasket of China" while others went to work in the mines and factories of Manchuria, which become one of the first regions of China to industrialize. Harbin became one of the main points through which food and industrial products were shipped out of Manchuria. A sign of Harbin's wealth was that a theater had established during its first decade and in 1907 the play K zvezdam by Leonid Andreyev had its premiere there.

During the Russo-Japanese War, Russia used Harbin as its base for military operations in Manchuria. Following Russia's defeat, its influence declined. Several thousand nationals from 33 countries, including the Un

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Robert Desmond Stewart, known as Dessie Stewart, is a former unionist politician in Northern Ireland. Living in Portrush, Stewart joined the Democratic Unionist Party, first stood for Coleraine Borough Council for the party in the Skerries ward, at the 1985 Northern Ireland local elections. Although he was unsuccessful, he was narrowly elected at the following election, in 1989, topped the poll in 1993. At the Northern Ireland Forum election in 1996, he stood in East Londonderry, was elected from second place on the DUP list. Stewart held his council seat in the 2001 local elections. In 2001/2, he served as Deputy Mayor of Coleraine in 2003/4 as the borough's Mayor. Following the 2005 Northern Ireland local elections, in which Stewart was again re-elected, he was accused of electoral fraud, he was subsequently convicted of taking fifteen electoral votes from a care home and using them to vote for himself. He admitted the charges and resigned from both his party and the council, was sentenced to four months in prison.

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