The origin of Dairen dates back approximately 6,000 years ago when the "Sushen" people began to settle the area.
Dairen was an important port as early as the 6th century AD. In early Tang Dynasty (640 A.D), Dairen was known as Sanshan Pu and later Qingni Pu.
In 1371, the Emperor of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang conquered the Port. Dairen was called "Qingni Wa", which is still the name of a downtown section near Dairen Railway Station.
It was occupied (1858) by the British and was fortified as a naval base by the Chinese in the 1880s. It was attacked and briefly held by the Japanese in 1895. Subsequently it was granted, with adjacent parts of the peninsula, to Russia as part of the Liaodong lease.
While under Russian control (1898-1905), The area south of Dairen was renamed Port Arthur. It was valued by the Russians for its year-round access to the Pacific Ocean and was extensively refortified for naval use.
Dairen was transformed during the same period from a minor fishing port into a modern commercial port and was given the Russian name Dalny (Distant), from the Dalianwan Gulf (Talienwan in historical literature).
The Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), transferred the Liaodong territory to the Japanese, who renamed it Kwangtung.
The nearby city of Port Arthur, renamed Ryojun, became an important Japanese naval base and was (1905-1937) the administrative center of the territory.
Dairen, given the Japanese name Dairen (as the Kanji characters are pronounced), was enlarged and modernized. It became the capital of Kwangtung in 1937 and developed rapidly in the 1930s and early 1940s as the main port for Japanese-controlled Manchuria.

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