The Amur River is a very important symbol of — and an important geopolitical factor in — Chinese-Russian relations. The Amur was especially important in the period of time following the Sino-Soviet political split in the 1960s.
River Steamers plied the Amur in the first years of the century. Mining dredges were imported from America to work the placer gold of the river. Barge and river traffic was greatly hindered by the Civil War of 1918-22. The ex-German Yangtse gunboats Vaterland and Otter, on Chinese Nationalist Navy service, patrolled the Amur in the 1920s.
The economy of the Amur Basin includes manufacturing, metallurgy, iron mining, non-ferrous metals, gold, coal, hydroelectricity, wheat, millet, soybeans, fishing, timber and Chinese-Russian trade. The Daqing oilfield, which is the world's 4th-largest oilfield, is located near Daqing City in Heilongjiang, a few hundred kilometers from the river.
The Amur has always been closely associated with Sakhalin, and most names for the island, even in the languages of the indigenous peoples of the region, are derived from the name of the river: "Sakhalin" derives from a Tungusic dialectal form cognate with Manchu sahaliyan ("black," as in sahaliyan ula, "Black River"), while Ainu and Japanese "Karaputo" or "Karafuto" is derived from the Ainu name of the Amur or its mouth. Anton Chekhov vividly described the Amur River in writings about his journey to Sakhalin Island in 1890.
The average annual discharge varies from 6000 m³/s (1980) - 12000 m³/s (1957), leading to an average 9819 m³/s or 310 km³ per year. The maximum runoff measured occurred in Oct 1951 with 30700 m³/s whereas the minimum discharge was recorded in March 1946 with a mere 514 m³/s.
Major tributaries are:
The Amur is bordered by Heilongjiang province of China in the south, and Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Khabarovsk Krai of Russia in the north. The final stretch of the Amur passes through Khabarovsk Krai. It passes by the following cities:
Valery Solomonovich Gurevich, government vice-chairman of Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Oblast said that China and Russia started construction of the Amur Bridge Project at the end of 2007. The bridge will link Nizhneleninskoye in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast with Tongjiang in Heilongjiang Province. The 2,197-meter-long bridge, with an estimated investment of nearly US$230 million, is expected to be finished by the end of 2010, Gurevich said. Gurevich said that the proposal to construct a bridge across the river was actually made by Russia, in view of growing cargo transportation demands. "The bridge, in the bold estimate, will be finished in three years," Gurevich said.