Xiamen, China's cleanest, most beautiful, seaport city, is located on the southeastern coast of Fujian Province. Xiamen City, as an administrative unit, can be dated back as far as the Song Dynasty. It has always been an important trading port, but since its establishment as one of China's first four Special Economic Zones in 1981, Xiamen has become a "window city" for China's opening to the outside world. It's one of the municipalities approved by the State Council of the People's Republic of China, being specially designated under separate state plan and enjoying provincial level of power in economic management. Today, Xiamen is a rapidly growing city, with a vigourous economy and a fully-modern infrastructure. Over the past 10 years, Xiamen has increasingly focused on the cultivation of international trade, education, and tourism.
Xiamen is situated on the southeast coast of Fujian Province, at the estuary of Jiulong River. It lies at 118degree 04' 04'' east longitude and 24degree 26' 46'' north latitude.
At the back of Xiamen lies the Zhangzhou-Quanzhou Plain, and facing Xiamen across the Taiwan Strait are Taiwan Island and the Penghu Islands.
Xiamen City comprises Xiamen Island proper, Gulangyu (Gulang Islet) and the coastal part of north Jiulong River. It has a land area of more than 1565.09 square kilometers and a sea area of 300 square kilometers. The island proper covers an area of 133 square kilometers, with a length of 13.7 kilometers from south to north and a width of 12.5 kilometers from east to west. The topography of Xiamen is characterized by a gradual descent from the south to the north, with the northwestern part being relatively flat and the southern part mountainous and hilly. The Yunding Rock, which stands 339.6 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in the south. The Xiamen Habour, which is a harbour of the strait type, has a coastal line that zigzags to 234 kilometers. It is a natural haven with deep water that is ice-free all the year round. In most parts of the harbour, the water is above 12 meters deep. The islands scattered all along the waters beyond the harbour form a natural barrier to protect the harbour from turbulent waves, whereas the mountains surrounding the harbour provide excellent windbreak. Because of such favourable conditions, Xiamen has always been an important seaport of foreign trade on the southeast coast of China ever since the ancient times.
Xiamen has a subtropical climate. It is generally mild and temperate, with abundant rainwater. It has an average annual temperature of approximately 21C. Winter in Xiamen is not harsh while summer is free from extreme heat.The city has an average annual rainfall of about 1200mm, mainly concentrated on the months from May to August. Wind power measures between Grade 3 to 4 in general, with northeast wind representing the dominant wind direction. Because of the air currents resulting from the difference in temperature in the Pacific, Xiamen is affected by typhoon three to four times annually on average, which mainly comes during the months from July to September.
At the end of 2004, the population of the whole city was 1,467,731, with 62% urban residents, 99.3% of which are the Han, and the rest is made up of more than 20 ethnic groups, including the Hui, Manchu, Zhuang, She, Miao, and the Gaoshan. South Fujian Dialect is the language which is predominantly spoken in Xiamen. Currently there are six districts under the administration of Xiamen: Siming, Huli, Haicang, Jimei, Tong'an and Xiang'an.
History & Development
The history of Xiamen dates back to the ancient times. It was part of Tong'an County, which was established in the 3rd year of Emperor Taikang's reign in the Jin Dynasty (282 A.D.). The County was first under Jin'an Prefecture but was later merged into Nan'an County. In the 19th year of Emperor Zhengyuan's reign in the Tang Dynasty (803 A.D), Datong Square was set up in Southwest Nan'an County and later became Tong'an County under Quanzhou in the 4th year of Emperor Changxing's reign in the Late Tang Dynasty (933 A.D). During the Song Dynasty, the place was under the rule of Qingyuan Army and Pinghai Army of Quanzhou. Then it was under the government of Quanzhou Province in the Yuan Dynasty and later Quanzhou Borough in the Ming Dynasty. It was not until the 20th year of Emperor Hongwu's reign in the Ming Dynasty (1387) that Xiamen Town was built. Later in the Qing Dynasty in the 7th year of Emperor Sunzhi's reign (1650), Xiamen was the place where Zheng Chenggong, the national hero, stationed his troops. In the 12th year (1655) the Siming Prefecture was established but was abolished in the 19th year of Emperor Kangxi's reign (1680). In the 23rd year (1684) the Tai-Xia Dao (Taiwan-Xiamen Defense Region) was established, with the Chief Magistrate ruling from Taiwan. (In the 6th year of Emperor Yongzheng's reign, namely 1728, Taiwan Borough was changed into Taiwan Region.) In the 25th year (1686) departments were set up in Quanzhou Prefecture to rule over the area. In the 5th year of Emperor Yongzheng's reign (1727) the Xingquan Region, (which was changed into Xingquanyong Region) was established in Xiamen to instead of in Quanzhou, its original settlement. In the 29th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign in the Qing Dynasty (1903), Gulangyu Islet fell into the hands of foreign invaders and became an International Settlement. In the first year of the Republic of China (1912), Siming County was established in April, encompassing Jiahe Neighbourhood of Tong'an County (namely Xiamen), Jinmen Islet and the Dadeng/Xiaodeng Islets. The same year in September saw the establishment of Siming Borough. Later in 1915, Jinmen Islet and the Dadeng/Xiaodeng Islets were separated from the Siming County to form Jinmen County themselves. In the same year Nanlu Region, (which was changed to the name of Xiamen Region in 1914 but was abolished in 1925) was set up.
In 1933 Xiamen was established as a special municipality by the "People's Revolutionary Government of the Republic of China" (namely "Fujian People's Government"). In 1934, both Tong'an County and Siming County belonged to the Fifth Administrative Region (with Tong'an as the capital). In April 1935 the Xiamen Municipality was set up, encompassing seven islets including Xiamen and Gulangyu. The original Siming County was abolished and the Heshan Special Zone was set up instead. The Xiamen Municipality and the Heshan Special Zone together with Tong'an County were subject to the government of the Fourth Administrative Region (with Tong'an as the capital). During the period from May 1938 to September 1945, Xiamen was in the hands of Japanese invaders. In October 1945 Xiamen was re-established as a city, which comprised four districts: Zhongxin (later renamed as Siming), Kaiyuan, Gulangyu and Heshan. September and October of 1949 witnessed the liberation of Tong'an County and Xiamen City in succession. Tong'an became part of the Fifth Prefecture (later changed to the name of the Prefecture of Quanzhou and the Prefecture of Jinjiang) while Xiamen became a municipality under the government of the province. In October 1950 five districts were set up in Xiamen: Kaiyuan, Siming, Gulangyu, Xiagang (abolished later) and Heshan. In 1953, Jimei Town of Tong'an County came to be under the administration of Xiamen. In January 1958 Heshan District was changed into suburbs. In August of the same year Tong'an County was separated from the Jinjiang Prefecture to become an administrative district under Xiamen. In August 1966, Kaiyuan District and Siming District were renamed Dongfeng and Xiangyang respectively (but the original names were restored in October 1979). In February 1970, Tong'an County was again divided from Xiamen to be under the administration of Jinjiang Prefecture but was later returned back to Xiamen in June 1973. In September 1978 Xinglin District was established, and a new district, the Huli District, was further set up in 1987. In the same year, the suburbs of Xiamen became Jimei District. In 1997, Tong'an became a district attached to Xiamen instead of a county.
National Economy and Social Undertakings in Xiamen
2000 is the last year in "Ninth-Five-Year Plan" program. Under the leadership of Xiamen Commission of CPC and city government, Xiamen people implemented in real earnest the spirit of the 15th National Congress Meeting and the Fifth Session of the 15th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Catching hold of the favorable opportunities brought about by national positive financial policies and a series of economic micro-control policies and the improvement of world economic situation, Xiamen made great efforts to conquer the negative effects on economic development by Xiamen smuggle case and natural disasters like frost at the begining of the year. Reforming was deepened, economic environment improved and economic tasks in all round were advanced. As a result, national economy of the city kept its growing pace, new achivements were made in all social undertakings, many econmic targets were fulfilled ahead of plan, four breakthroughs were made-- a breakthrough on 50 billion yuan limit of GDP, a breakthrough on 10 billion US dollars limit of foreign trade value, a breakthrough on one million TEU limit of handling volume as a container port, and a breakthrough on ten thousand yuan limit of disposable income of urban residents per capita.
Foreign invested enterprises has become an important stream in the development of Xiamen export-oriented economy. To the end of 2000, Xiamen had approved 4991 contracts with foreign investment. Contractual foreign investment amount added up to 17.526 billion US dollars and 11.452 billion US dollars were put into actual operation. Industrial enterprises with foreign, Hongkong, Taiwan and Macao investment generated an output value of 59.355 billion yuan in 2000, accounting for 84.83% of the total industrial output value by industrial enterprises above designated size. Foreign investment covered the fields of electronics, chemical industry, textile, foodstuff, electric power, real estate, finance, and etc. Among them, 65 were in the primary industry, 2396 in the secondary industry and 3261 in the tertiary industry.
Social secuity system has experienced sound progress and residents lead a comparatively well-off life. Statistics show that throughout the whole year laid-off workers from state-owned enterprises were provided with basic living expenses of 14.3461 million yuan, while endowment insurance, unemployment insurance and medical insurance amounting to 2,426,400 yuan, 328,700 yuan and 1,097,600 yuan respectively had been drawn. To the end of 2000, 8,769 units had registered for endowment insurance, covering 407,400 employees, while 10,629 units had registered for unemployment insurance, covering 357,600 employees. Payment drawn by the social secuity fund reached 95%, basically having achieved the goal of full covering of social secuity system. Income of both urban and rural residents were largely increased. Compared to 1980, disposable income of urban residents per capita had gone up 25.65 times to 10,813 yuan, while net income of rural residents per capita had gone up 18.2 times to 4,030 yuan. Living environment and consumption capability were also greatly improved. In 2000, a total residential area of 2,323,400 sq. metres were completed, retail sales of social consumer goods totaled 16.964 billion yuan which was 56.11 times that of 1980, while the average expenditure on consumption per person reached 9,047 yuan. The long-cherished well-off life has been realized ahead of schedule.