Nikolayevsk-on-Amur (Russian: Никола́евск-на-Аму́ре, Nikolayevsk-na-Amure) is a town in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia located on the Amur River close to its liman in the Pacific Ocean. Population: 22,772 (2010 Census preliminary results); 28,492 (2002 Census); 36,296 (1989 Census).
In the late Middle Ages, the people living along the lower course of the Amur (Nivkh, Oroch, Evenki) were collectively known in China as the «wild Jurchen». The Yuan Dynasty Mongols sent expeditions to this area with an eye toward using the region as a base for attack on Japan, or for defending against the Sakhalin Ainus. According to the History of Yuan, in 1264 the Nivkhs recognized the Mongol sovereignty. In 1263, the Mongols set up the «Command Post of the Marshal of the Eastern Campaign» near the modern settlement of Tyr, some 100 kilometers (62 mi) upstream from today’s Nikolayevsk-on-Amur. At roughly the same time, a shrine was built on the Tyr Rock.
From 1411 to 1433, the Ming eunuch Yishiha, a man of Haixi Jurchen origin, led four large missions to win over the allegiance of the «Jurchen» tribes along the Sunggari and Amur Rivers. During this time, the Yongning Temple was constructed at Tyr, and stelae with inscriptions erected.
The Russian settlement, likely preceded by the Manchu village of Fuyori, was founded as Nikolayevsky Post by Gennady Nevelskoy on August 13, 1850 and named for Tsar Nicholas I.
The settlement quickly became one of the main economic centers on the Pacific coast of the Russian Empire. The main Russian Pacific harbor was moved from Petropavlovsk to Nikolayevsk-on-Amur in 1855 after the Siege of Petropavlovsk. It was granted town status and renamed Nikolayevsk-on-Amur in 1856, when Primorskaya Oblast was established. Admiral Vasily Zavoyko supervised the construction of a naval base in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur.
The town emerged as an important commercial harbor; however, due to navigational difficulties caused by the sand banks in the Amur estuary and sea ice making the harbor unusable for five months each year, the main center for Russian shipping were transferred to the better situated Vladivostok in the early 1870s. The town remained the administrative center of this region until 1880, when the governor relocated to Khabarovsk. Anton Chekhov, visiting the town on his journey to Sakhalin in 1890, noted its rapid depopulation, although this trend was slowed somewhat in the late 1890s by the discovery of gold and establishment of salmon fisheries.
During the Russian Civil War, the town’s population plummeted from 15,000 to 2,000, as a local partisan leader, later executed by the same Bolsheviks he was supposed to be aligned with, razed the entire town to the ground and massacred the minority Japanese population along with most of the Russian population.
Like many other places in the Russian Far East, the town has seen a drop in population since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, dropping from 36,296 inhabitants recorded in the (1989 Census), to only 22,772 in 2010.