Birobidzhan is a city in Russia, an administrative center of Jewish autonomous oblast. It is a station on Trans-Siberian railway located 75 km from the border with China.
Birobidzhan was named after 2 biggest rivers in Jewish autonomous oblast - Bira and Bidzhan. The city is standing on the banks of the Bira River. Bidzhan flows parallel to the Bira to the west of the city (about 100 km) and flows into the Amur like Bira.
The city received its name from the Evenky people language. The space between the rivers Bira (river) and Bidzhan (permanent camp) was called that way.
Birobidzhan population is about 74,000 (2012), land area - 169 sq. km.
The phone code is +7 42622; postal codes - 679000-679025.
The settlement was founded near station Tikhonkaya (opened in 1915) and became the workers’ settlement in 1928. In May 1928, the decree was adopted according to which the committee on the use of land was responsible for inhabiting free lands in Amur region.
Soviet government decision to make station Tikhonkaya a Jewish settlement was caused by a lot of factors, the main of which was to strengthen the frontiers of Soviet Far East because of Japan being so close and possible intervention of China.
Settling of this region became especially important for the USSR after Soviet-Chinese conflict in 1929 and occupation of Manchzhuria by Japanese in 1931.
At the end of 1920s and early 1930s, the USSR government tried to improve relations with the West and Birobidzhan project could influence Jewish and pro-Jewish public opinion in Europe and America.
The project of inhabiting the Far East by Jews as well was also aimed at receiving financial aid from rich Jews living abroad. Besides, this project helped to solve some economic problems which the Jews faced in the USSR. Founded Jewish settlements connected the Trans-Siberian railway with the river Amur valley.
The first settlers came in April 1928. But due to hard living conditions and severe climate this process was not even. At first a considerable number of Jewish settlers arrived in 1928-1933s but over a half of them later left the region.
On October 10th, 1931, the settlement Tikhonkaya was renamed Birobidzhan. In 1934, when the Jewish autonomous oblast was formed, Birobidzhan became its administrative center. It received the status of the city on March 2nd, 1937.
In early 1930s, about 1,400 Jewish migrants came to Birobidzhan from abroad: USA, Argentina, Europe and others. Birobidzhan was a distributing railway center where goods for all the region were brought.
In the second half of 1930s, some social buildings were constructed: the House of Soviets, a teacher’s training college, a library, a Palace of Culture. By 1939, railway and medical schools were already organized.
Trans-Siberian railway and federal highway M58 “Amur” run through the city. The station Birobidzhan I (with the train station on it), Birobidzhan II and Birobidzhan III - all three forming a triangle - a railway line to Leninsk on the border with China approaches the Trans-Siberian railway.
In 2003-2006, a part of highway around the city was built. There are 3 bridges across the river Bira which cross the city - 2 for automobiles and one - a railway bridge.
Birobidzhan high crime rate
Unfortunately the city is known in Russia as the place with the highest rate of drug-related crimes. And this is a complex problem.
Birobidzhan, being not a large city, is a key point of transportation of drugs from the Far East of Russia and China to western region of Russia and Eastern Europe (the only highway and railway are passing through the city).
Also the climate of the region is favorable to growing narcotic plants.
The region has the highest unemployment level on the Far East (about 10% in 2012).
That’s why a lot of people (local and foreigners) are tempted to earn “easy” money by growing, producing, transporting drugs, they also use drugs, hence the crime rate is high.