Quanzhou, formerly known as Chinchew, is a prefecture-level city beside the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province, China. Its is Fujian's largest metropolitan region, with an area of 11,245 square kilometers (4,342 sq mi) and, as of the 2010 census, a population of 8,128,530.Its built-up area is home to 6,107,475 inhabitants, encompassing the Licheng, Fengze, and Luojiang urban districts; Jinjiang, Nan'an, and Shishi cities; Hui'an County; and the Quanzhou District for Taiwanese Investment.Quanzhou was China's 12th-largest extended metropolitan area in 2010.
Quanzhou was China's major port for foreign traders, who knew it as Zaiton,during the 11th through 14th centuries. It was visited by both Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta; both travelers praised it as one of the most prosperous and glorious cities in the world. It was the naval base from which the Mongol attacks on Japan and Java were primarily launched and a cosmopolitan center with Buddhist and Hindu temples, Islamic mosques, and Christian churches, including a Catholic cathedral and Franciscan monasteries. A failed revolt prompted a massacre of the city's foreign communities in 1357. Economic dislocations—including piracy and an imperial overreaction to it during the Ming and Qing—reduced its prosperity, with Japanese trade shifting to Ningbo and Zhapu and other foreign trade restricted to Guangzhou. Quanzhou became an opium-smuggling center in the 19th century but the siltation of its harbor long reduced its capacity for trade by larger ships.
In the 19th century, the city walls still protected a circuit of 7–8 miles (11–13 km) but embraced much vacant ground.The bay began to attract Jardines' and Dents' opium ships from 1832. Following the First Opium War, Governor Henry Pottinger proposed using Quanzhou as an official opium depot to keep the trade out of Hong Kong and the other treaty ports but the rents sought by the imperial commissioner Qiying were too high.When Chinese pirates overran the receiving ships in Shenhu Bay to capture their stockpiles of silver bullion in 1847, however, the traders moved to Quanzhou Bay regardless.Around 1862, a Protestant mission was set up in Quanzhou. As late as the middle of the century, large Chinese junks could still access the town easily, trading in tea, sugar, tobacco, porcelain, and nankeens,but sand bars created by the rivers around the town had generally incapacitated its harbor by the First World War. It remained a large and prosperous city, but conducted its maritime trade through Anhai.
In 2004, Quanzhou was listed among CCTV's "Ten Most Charming Cities in China".
Quanzhou proper lies on a spit of land between the estuaries of the Jin and Luo rivers as they flow into Quanzhou Bay on the Taiwan Strait. Its surrounding prefecture extends west halfway across the province and is hilly and mountainous. Along with Xiamen and Zhangzhou to its south and Putian to its north, it makes up Fujian Province's Southern Coast region. In its mountainous interior, it borders Longyan to the southwest and Sanming to the northwest.
Quanzhou has four distinct seasons. Its moderate temperature ranges from 0 to 38 degrees Celsius. In summer, there are typhoons that bring rain and some damage to the city.