Xiamen, formerly romanized as Amoy, is a sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian, China, beside the Taiwan Strait. It is divided into six districts: Huli, Siming, Jimei, Tong'an, Haicang, and Xiang'an. Altogether, these cover an area of 1,699.39 square kilometers (656.14 sq mi) with a population of 3,531,347 as of 2010. The urbanized area of the city has spread from its original island to include parts of all six of its districts, with a total population of 1,861,289. This area connects to Quanzhou in the north and Zhangzhou in the west, making up a metropolis of more than five million people. The Jinmen or Kinmen Islands administered by the Republic of China lie less than 6 kilometers (4 mi) away.
Xiamen Island was considered to possess one of the world's great natural harbors in Yundang Bay, but Fujian's international trade was long restricted to Quanzhou or to Guangzhou in Guangdong. Due to the siltification of Quanzhou's harbor, the British insisted that Xiamen be opened to foreign trade in the treaty that ended the First Opium War in 1842. Under the Qing, both before and after the war, there was a large-scale emigration of Chinese from southern Fujian who spread Hokkien-speaking communities to Singapore, Malaysia (especially in Penang), Indonesia (Medan and Riau Province) and the Philippines. The overseas Chinese continue to support Xiamen's educational and cultural institutions. As part of China's Opening Up Policy under Deng Xiaoping, Xiamen became one of the original four special economic zones opened to foreign investment and trade in the early 1980s. Its former harbor was enclosed using land excavated during the city's expansion.
The city is known for its mild climate, Hokkien culture and colonial architecture, as well as its relatively low pollution. In 2006, Xiamen was ranked as China's 2nd-"most suitable city for living", as well as China's "most romantic leisure city" in 2011.
By the 20th century, the local export economy had collapsed due to the success of British tea plantations in India.During the Qing and the early 20th century, many southern Fujianese emigrated to Southeast Asia and Taiwan, spreading Hokkien language and culture overseas. Some 350,000 overseas Chinese currently trace their ancestry to Xiamen.Some of this diaspora later returned: an estimated 220,000 Xiamen residents are returning overseas Chinese and their kin.Others continue to help fund universities and cultural institutions in Xiamen.
At the time of the Xinhai Revolution, the native population of the city was estimated at 300,000 and the foreign settlement at 280.After the establishment of the Republic of China, the area around Xiamen was renamed Siming County. Xiamen's trade during the period was largely conducted through Taiwan,which had been seized by Japan during the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese subsequently claimed Fujian as their sphere of influence during the colonial squabbling over China.Japan occupied Xiamen Island from May 1938 to September 1945 during World War II. In the late phases of the Chinese Civil War that followed, the Communists captured Xiamen and Gulangyu in October 1949 but failed to capture Jinmen. The same year, Xiamen became a provincially-administered city.
In 1955 and 1958, mainland China escalated Cold War political tensions by shelling nearby islands from Xiamen in what became known as the First and Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. The Nationalists responded by reïnforcing Jinmen and shelling Xiamen. The Gaoji Causeway built from 1955–57 notionally transformed Xiamen Island into a peninsula, and so it was termed in the heady propaganda of the time. Due to political tensions, the eastern half of Xiamen Island and much of the Fujian Coast facing the offshore islands remained undeveloped in the 1960s and 1970s. The Water Police and Post-Office were situated directly across the water from the American embassy.
When Deng Xiaoping initiated his Opening Up Policy, Xiamen was made one of the first four special economic zones in 1980, with special investment and trade regulations attracting foreign investment, particularly from overseas Chinese. The city grew and prospered. On 18 April 1988, Xiamen was promoted to sub-provincial status and began to be specially considered in China's state planning. In 2001, the governments of mainland China and Taiwan agreed to initiate the "Three Mini-Links" and restored ferry, commercial, and mail links between the mainland and offshore islands. Trade and travel between Xiamen and Jinmen was restored and later expanded to include direct air travel to Taiwan Island. In 2010, travelers between Xiamen and Jinmen made 1.31 million trips.
In 1999, the largest corruption scandal in China's history was uncovered in Xiamen, 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.
In 2006, Xiamen was ranked as China's 2nd-"most suitable city for living",as well as China's "most romantic leisure city" in 2011.
Xiamen is a sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian whose urban core grew up from the port of Xiamen on southern Xiamen Island, now located within Siming District. It now also includes Gulangyu Island and the rugged coast of the mainland from the northeast bank of the Jiulong River in the west to the islands of Xiang'an in the east. Xiamen Island lies about one degree north of the Tropic of Cancer. It is divided between Huli District in the north and Siming District in the south. Siming also includes Gulangyu. Its mainland territory is divided among Haicang, Jimei, Tong'an, and Xiang'an districts.
In the 19th century, Xiamen's harbor on Yundang Bay was considered one of the world's great natural harbors. Land reclamation has since been used to fill in the mouth of this inlet, turning it into Siming District's Yundang Lake. The municipal government is located on other reclaimed land beside it.
The nearest point of Lieyu in the Jinmen Islands, still controlled by the Republic of China from Taiwan, lies only 6 kilometers (4 mi) off Xiamen Island.
Xiamen has a monsoonal humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), characterised by long, hot and humid summers (but moderate compared to much of the rest of the province) and short, mild and dry winters. The warmest month is July, with a 24-hour average of 27.8 °C (82.0 °F), and oddly, the coolest month is February, averaging 12.4 °C (54.3 °F); the annual mean is 20.42 °C (68.8 °F). Extremes since 1951 have ranged from 1.5 °C (35 °F) on 29 December 1991 to 39.2 °C (103 °F) on 20 July 2007. Spring, both by humidity and percentage of sunshine, is the dampest season but typhoons in late summer and early autumn can make the latter period wetter overall. Summer and autumn are marked by comparatively sunny conditions, while autumn is warm and dry. The annual rainfall is 1,350 millimeters (53 in). With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 24% in March to 56% in July, the city receives 1,853 hours of bright sunshine annually. Frost occurs very rarely, and the last snowfall in the city took place in January 1893, when snow also fell at Guangzhou, Macau, in the inland parts of Hong Kong and in the hills of Taipei.