Xiamen (厦门) (also called Amoy) and its surrounding countryside is known for its scenery and tree-lined beaches. It is an island city with a rich and dramatic history, replete with pirates, rebel leaders, and European merchants. Now linked to mainland Fujian by a causeway, Xiamen retains a strong international flavor.
Xiamen has a long history as a port city, and became a center of British trade in the 19th century. Their foreign settlements, later taken over by Japanese invaders at the start of World War II.
Xiamen was founded in 1394 at the beginning of the Ming dynasty as a center of defense against coastal pirates. In the mid-17th century, Xiamen became a stronghold of Zheng Chenggong, known in the West as Koxinga, a Ming loyalist who held out against the Manchu invaders until being driven to Taiwan.
After the Opium Wars Xiamen became one of the first treaty ports to be opened to foreign trade and settlement following the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842.
Xiamen is headquarters of the 31st Group Army of the People’s Liberation Army, one of the 3 group armies under the Nanjing Military Region, which is responsible for the defense of the eastern China, including any military action in the Taiwan Strait.
The Jinmen Islands, still controlled by the Republic of China from Taiwan, lies only 6 kilometers off Xiamen.
Xiamen was designated one of the four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the early 1980’s.