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town, Chita oblast (province), east-central Russia. The town lies along the Nercha River just above the latter's confluence with the Shilka. Nerchinsk was founded as a fort in 1654. Once it served as an important customs post and trading centre on the route to China, but the town declined when it was bypassed by the Trans-Siberian Railroad in the late 19th century. There are minor electromechanical and food-processing industries in the town. Pop. (1991 est.) 16,900