Xiamen (Mandarin pronunciation: [ɕjâmə̌n]), also known as Amoy (English: /əˈmɔɪ/), is a coastal city in southeastern China. It is administered as a sub-provincial city under Fujian province in the People's Republic of China. It looks out to the Taiwan Strait and borders Quanzhou to the north and Zhangzhou to the south. Xiamen and the surrounding countryside are famous for being an ancestral home to overseas Chinese. It became one of China's earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. Xiamen covers an area of 1 565 km² with a total population of 2.5 million. It has been ranked as China's second 'most suitable city for living'.
During the early Jin Dynasty, the place was made Tong'an District (同安縣) in 282, a sub-entity of Jin'an Prefecture (晉安郡). During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), the city was known as a sustainable international seaport, and the Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo (1031–1095) spent some of his youth there while his father was a local bureaucrat on the government staff. In 1387, the Ming Dynasty used the place as base against pirates, and was part of Quanzhou. Koxinga, stationed here in 1650, named it Siming Island (思明洲), or "Remembering the Ming", but the city was renamed by the Manchus in 1680 to Xiamen Subprefecture. The name "Siming" was changed back after the 1912 Xinhai Revolution and the settlement was made a county. Later it reverted to the name Xiamen City. In 1949, Xiamen became a provincial city (省辖市), then was upgraded to a vice-province-class city (副省级市), or a municipality. It was made a Special Economic Zone in 1980.
Xiamen was the port of trade first used by Europeans (mainly the Portuguese) in 1541. It was China's main port in the nineteenth century for exporting tea. As a result, Hokkien (also known as the Amoy dialect) had a major influence on how Chinese terminology was translated into English and other European languages. For example, the words "Amoy", "tea" (茶; tê), "cumshaw" (感謝; kám-siā), and "Pekoe" (白毫; pe̍h-hô), kowtow (磕頭; khàu-thâu), and possibly Japan (Ji̍t-pún) and "ketchup" (茄汁; kiô-chap) originated from the Hokkien. During the First Opium War between Britain and China, the British captured the city in the Battle of Amoy on 26 August 1841. Xiamen was one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanking (1842) at the end of the war. As a result, it was an early entry point for Protestant missions in China. In 1999, the largest corruption scandal in China's history was uncovered, implicating up to 200 government officials. Lai Changxing is alleged to have run an enormous smuggling operation, which financed the city's football team, film studios, largest construction project, and a vast brothel rented to him by the local Public Security Bureau. According to Time, "locals used to joke that Xiamen should change its name to Yuanhua, the name of Lai's company." They subsequently claimed that potential investors were discouraged by the taint of corruption.
Xiamen's primary economic activities include fishing, shipbuilding, food processing, tanning, textiles, machine tool manufacturing, chemical industries, telecommunications, and financial services. The city benefits particularly from investment capital from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Xiamen was recently voted China's cleanest city, and has many attractions for the tourist. Xiamen and its surrounding countryside provides spectacular scenery and pleasant tree-lined beaches. Gulangyu, also known as Piano Island, is a popular, peaceful weekend getaway with amazing views of the city and features many Victorian-era style European edifices. Xiamen's Botanical Garden is a nature lover's paradise. The Buddhist Nanputuo Temple, dating back to the Tang Dynasty, is a national treasure. Xiamen is also famous for its history as a frontline during the war with Kinmen (also known as Jinmen or Quemoy) 50 years ago. One attraction for tourists is to view Kinmen island, a few kilometres away and under Taiwanese control, from Xiamen island.
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