Xiamen, the second largest city in Fujian province next to the capital Fuzhou, covers a total area of 1,516 square meters. As one of the five earliest special economic zones, with heavy investment from Taiwan and Hong Kong, it has been a city growing in strength.
Despite its fame as an industrial powerhouse, this port city has not lost much of its charm, and as a sightseeing haven has become one of the best areas to visit in Fujian and for good reason: With good food, some great architecture and a mild to hot climate, Xiamen is hard to beat.
Facing Taiwan across the strait, it is also considered a place of regret, for even today the only way for many mainlanders with relatives in Taiwan to get close to the island is to look through big binoculars.
The geographical location also makes it an ideal deep-sea port which witnesses no freezing season and so, since early times, numerous people have resorted to the sea route to emigrate to a promised land. Today, there are over 350,000 Overseas Chinese with ancestors from
Xiamen, known in the West as Amoy, has long been an important trading port both for the Chinese and the Colonialists that were to make use of it. It is the island of Gulangyu, however, that nowadays most attracts Westerners to this area of Fujian, with its hundreds of interesting and quietly crumbling colonial villas.
For the Chinese, one of the main reasons for visiting this isle is to pay homage to the great general and pirate Koxinga, who led heavy resistance against the invading Manchu armies in the seventeenth century, and who fought and defeated the Dutch armies in Taiwan. Tributes to Koxinga are scattered all about the island, including the majestic granite statue of him, staring out towards Taiwan.