An attractive city recently voted one of China’s cleanest cities, Xiamen in Fujian province was founded in the 14th century and became a significant port during the Ming Dynasty. It also served as a major stronghold against the Manchus when they chose to invade in the 17th century.
Xiamen was the port of trade first used by Europeans in 1541. The city was also one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanjing (signed in 1842) at the end of the First opium War between Britain and China. It was also China's main port in the 19th century for the exportation of tea. As a result, the local Amoy dialect had a major influence on how Chinese terminology was translated into English and other European languages. For example, the following words used in the English language - tea, ketchup, Pekoe, kowtow, gung-ho and possibly even Japan, originated from the Amoy dialect.
Points of interest in Xiamen include Nanputuo Si and Huxiyan temples; the scenic Wanshi Botanical Gardens that boast over 4,000 botanical species including a redwood tree planted by former US president Richard Nixon; the impressive Overseas China Museum and Gulang Yu. The tranquil island of Gulang Yu is a 10 minute boat ride from Xiamen. The island became a European-style town with churches, consulates and capacious villas. In 1903 it was designated an International Settlement for Europeans and Japanese with its own council and Sikh constabulary, retaining the status until the end of WWII.
The discovery of despotic Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s army of 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors occurred in 1974 when local farmers digging...