Matsu Islands

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The Matsu Islands are a minor archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 of 19 islands and islet
Islet
An islet is a very small island.- Types :As suggested by its origin as islette, an Old French diminutive of "isle", use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability....

s in the Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait
The Taiwan Strait or Formosa Strait, formerly known as the Black Ditch, is a 180-km-wide strait separating Mainland China and Taiwan. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to East China Sea to the northeast...

 administered as Lienchiang County (連江縣; Lièng-gŏng-gâing), Fujian Province of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (ROC, commonly known as "Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

"). Only a small area of what is historically Lienchiang County is under the control of the ROC. The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (AKA
Aka
A.K.A., AKA, a.k.a., aka, or a/k/a may refer to:*"Also known as", used to introduce pseudonyms, aliases, nicknames, working names, legalized names, pen names, maiden names, etc.-Media:*AKA , a 2002 film...

 "China") controls the part of the county on mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 and has a separate administration for that jurisdiction, Lianjiang County (same name as Lienchiang in Chinese but romanized differently), which claims the entire archipelago to be its Mazu Township (媽祖鄉; Mā-cū-hiŏng).

They are named after the goddess Mazu
Matsu (goddess)
Mazu , also spelt Matsu, is the indigenous goddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors, and is invoked as the patron deity of all Southern Chinese and East Asian persons...

. Kinmen
Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

 is the other archipelago on the Fujian coast controlled by the ROC.

History


Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

ese Mainlanders started migrating to the islands during the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

. Most people on Matsu came from Houguan (侯官) (today Changle County (長樂縣 Diòng-lŏ̤h-gâing), Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

).

Some crewmen of Zheng He
Zheng He
Zheng He , also known as Ma Sanbao and Hajji Mahmud Shamsuddin was a Hui-Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who commanded voyages to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa, collectively referred to as the Voyages of Zheng He or Voyages of Cheng Ho from...

 temporarily stayed on the islands. In early Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, pirates gathered here and residents temporarily left.

In contrast to Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 and Penghu, the Matsu Islands were not ceded to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 via the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki
Treaty of Shimonoseki
The Treaty of Shimonoseki , known as the Treaty of Maguan in China, was signed at the Shunpanrō hall on April 17, 1895, between the Empire of Japan and Qing Empire of China, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. The peace conference took place from March 20 to April 17, 1895...

. Neither were they occupied by Japan as in the case of Kinmen
Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

After the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 (KMT) retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the ROC retained the part of Lienchiang County offshore (and the entire Kinmen County as well).

The phrase "Quemoy
Kinmen
Kinmen , also known as Quemoy , is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China : Greater Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, ROC. The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of its...

 and Matsu" became part of U.S. political language in the 1960 U.S. presidential election. During the debates, both candidates, Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 and John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

, pledged to use U.S. forces if necessary to protect the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 from invasion by the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, the mainland, which the U.S. did not at that time recognize as a legitimate government. But the two candidates had different opinions about whether to use U.S. forces to protect the ROC's forward positions, Quemoy and Matsu, as well. In fact, Senator Kennedy stated that these islands - just a few miles off the coast of China and more than a hundred miles from Taiwan - were strategically indefensible and were not essential to the defense of Taiwan. On the contrary, Vice President Nixon maintained that, since Quemoy and Matsu were in the "area of freedom," they should not be surrendered to the Communists as a matter of "principle."

In April 2003, the county government started considering changing the name to Matsu County to avoid confusion with the county of the same name on the mainland. Some locals opposed the name change because they felt it reflected a Democratic Progressive Party
Democratic Progressive Party
The Democratic Progressive Party is a political party in Taiwan, and the dominant party in the Pan-Green Coalition. Founded in 1986, DPP is the first meaningful opposition party in Taiwan. It has traditionally been associated with strong advocacy of human rights and a distinct Taiwanese identity,...

 Taiwan Independence
Taiwan independence
Taiwan independence is a political movement whose goals are primarily to formally establish the Republic of Taiwan by renaming or replacing the Republic of China , form a Taiwanese national identity, reject unification and One country, two systems with the People's Republic of China and a Chinese...

 viewpoint.

Townships


Lienchiang County (of the Republic of China) is currently divided into four townships:
  • Nangan Township (南竿鄉; Nángān; literally "Southern Fishing Pole"; Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

    : Nàng-găng-hiŏng)
  • Beigan Township
    Beigan, Lienchiang
    Beigan Township , part of the northern Matsu Islands, is officially administrated as Lienchiang County by the Republic of China...

     (北竿鄉; Běigān; literally "Northern Fishing Pole"; Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

    : Báe̤k-găng-hiŏng)
  • Juguang Township (莒光鄉; Jǔguāng; literally "Brilliance of the Ju Kingdom"; Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

    : Gṳ̄-guŏng-hiŏng)
  • Dongyin Township (東引鄉; Dōngyǐn; literally "Welcoming the East"; Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect
    Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

    : Dĕ̤ng-īng-hiŏng)


Altogether, there are 22 Lienchiang villages, which are further divided into 137 neighborhoods (鄰 lín).

All townships, except Juguang, are named after the largest island in its jurisdictional area, but most townships also include other islets.

Geography


The Matsu Islands include five major islands: Nangan
Nangan
Nangan is one of the Matsu Islands and the capital township of the Lienchiang County of the Republic of China....

, Dongju and Xiju (both in Juguang Township), Beigan, and Dongyin. Minor islands include Liang (亮島), Gaodeng (高登), Daqiu (大坵), and Xiaoqiu (小坵) - all belong to the Beigan Township.
  • North: 26º18' N
  • South: 25º56' N
  • East: 120º1'20" E
  • West: 119º51' E


Another set of coordinates: 119°51'-120°31' E, 25°55'-26°44' N.

Dongyin is the northernmost and Dongjyu is the southernmost.
  • Dongyin is 100 nautical mile
    Nautical mile
    The nautical mile is a unit of length that is about one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian, but is approximately one minute of arc of longitude only at the equator...

    s (190 km) from Keelung
    Keelung
    Keelung City is a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan. It borders New Taipei and forms the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area, along with the Taipei and New Taipei. Nicknamed the Rainy Port for its frequent rain and maritime role, the city is Taiwan's second largest seaport...

    , Taiwan, 180 to the Penghu islands, and slightly over 10 nautical miles (19 km) from the Chinese Mainland.
  • The soils are not ideal for farming.
  • The highest point is on Beigan, 298 metres.


Areas:
  • Nangan: 10.43 km²
  • Beigan: 8.86 km²
  • Dongyin: 4.35 km²
  • Juguang islands: see Juguang


Average annual temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 is 18.6°C, with the lowest point being 1.3°.

The total number of islands and islets is 19.

Demographics


The language spoken by Matsu residents is Fuzhou dialect
Fuzhou dialect
Fuzhou dialect , also known as Foochow dialect, Foochow, Foochowese, Fuzhounese, or Fuzhouhua, is considered the standard dialect of Min Dong, which is a branch of Min Chinese mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province. Native speakers also call it ' , meaning the language spoken in...

 (福州話), a dialect of Min Dong Language
Min Dong
The Eastern Min language, or Min Dong is the language mainly spoken in the eastern part of Fujian Province in China, in and near Fuzhou and Ningde. Fuzhou is the province's capital and largest city...

.

Chen (陳) is the most common surname
Chinese surname
Chinese family names have been historically used by Han Chinese and Sinicized Chinese ethnic groups in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among overseas Chinese communities. In ancient times two types of surnames, family names and clan names , existed.The colloquial expressions laobaixing...

, then Lin
Lin
Lin may refer to:People*Lin , usually Chinese*Lin, variant of Lyn or Lynn*Lin, short for Linda*Lin , Chinese ninja characterPlaces*Lin, Korçë, village in Pogradec District, Albania...

 (林), Wang
Wang
Wang may refer to:Name:* Wang , one of two surnames with distinct Chinese characters.* Titles in Chinese nobility* A title in Korean nobility* A title in Mongolian nobilityPlaces:* Wang River in Thailand...

 (王), Tsao (曹), and Liu
Liu
劉 is a common Chinese family name. The transliteration Liu can represent several different surnames written in different Chinese characters:*劉 / 刘, pinyin: Liú...

 (劉).

Several islands are not inhabited permanently, some of which are stationed by Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 soldiers.

Economy


Farm products include rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, sugar cane, tea plant, orange
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....

. Sea animals, such as fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, clam
Clam
The word "clam" can be applied to freshwater mussels, and other freshwater bivalves, as well as marine bivalves.In the United States, "clam" can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs...

s, and jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

, are also popular exports.

Tourism


One of the most promising resources for local economy is tourism. Lianjiang County Government is making great efforts to attract more visitors to the Matsu Islands, especially among foreigners.
In fact, Matsu islands are famous for their historical sites and beautiful scenery. Due to their size, travelling by motorized scooter is an ideal way to get around the main islands such as Nangan and Beigan. Both Islands have regular buses and taxis are also economical.

Both Nangan and Beigan have airports, but because the main airport is located in Nangan, travel between the islands is frequently done by boat. In fact, boats are the main form of transportation between the Matsu islands.

Nangan is the capital of Matsu and is famous for its mesmerizing granite tunnel as well as the Iron Fort. It has two interconnected main roads. Each road leads to different sites but because they are connected, it does not take long to visit all of the sites on the island.

The Bei-Hei tunnels are manmade granite tunnels that marvel visitors. One is located in Beigan while the other is located in Nangan. Both tunnels were amazing for their time, and took great effort to construct. The tunnel in Nangan was built in 1968. The completion of Bei-Hei tunnel took the effort of thousands of men. The 700 metre tunnel has a width of 10 metres and a height of 16 metres. It was completed in 820 days with shovels, spades and explosives; the tunnel also took the life of a platoon of soldiers. The tunnel was considered a military location and was not opened until 1990. The tunnel’s structure and precision still amazes visitors today and is a must see in Matsu.

The Iron Fort is located on the Southwest side of Nangan island. Located by a small cliff, it is a vulnerable spot for outside attacks or illegal smuggling of materials. With that in mind, the fort was built for defence. It is equipped with multiple machine-gun rooms and rudimentary living facilities. It is now open to the public, and although most of the equipment has been removed from the site, the site itself brings back a vivid image of what it was like for soldiers at that time.

Chin Be village is located in Beigan and was renowned for its style of architecture and history. Many of the buildings were built from the late 19th century to early 20th century. However the village, once occupied by over one hundred households, was abandoned by the fishermen due to hard living conditions; the village was reduced to less than 20 households. Luckily by the 1960s, it was restored by the local government. Chin Be is situated beside a beach, overlooking China. It is ideal for an early morning or late evening stroll.

Other famous sites include the 88 Tunnel distillery, Matsu temple, Fu-Au seaport, and many different kinds of monuments.

Natural reserves


Since 1990, the county controls the Matsu Islands Bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 Sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

 (馬祖列島燕鷗保護區), which spreads across eight islands and islets in Nangan, Beigan and Tongyin Townships. It contains 30 species in 15 orders
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

, mostly gulls and terns. In 2000, four pairs of the critically endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 Chinese Crested Tern
Chinese Crested Tern
The Chinese Crested Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae, closely related to Sandwich Tern T. sandvicensis and Lesser Crested Tern T. bengalensis...

, previously thought to be extinct
Extinct species
This page features extinct species, organisms that have become extinct.* List of extinct animals* List of extinct plants...

, were discovered nesting on the Matsu Islands, giving them global conservation importance.

There are also moss
Moss
Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1–10 cm tall, though some species are much larger. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations. They do not have flowers or seeds, and their simple leaves cover the thin wiry stems...

es and fern
Fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s rare or absent elsewhere in the ROC
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

.

Connection to the goddess


Matsu, though named after the goddess Matsu
Matsu (goddess)
Mazu , also spelt Matsu, is the indigenous goddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors, and is invoked as the patron deity of all Southern Chinese and East Asian persons...

, is written with a different character that has a different tone. But the Matsu Islands are not the birthplace of the goddess as the human Lin Muoniang - Meizhou Island
Meizhou Island
Meizhou Island is a small island close to the shores of Putian, Fujian Province, People's Republic of China. It is known for being the birthplace of the goddess Matsu...

 is — but her death place (on a seaport named after her on Nangan Island).

The Matsu Nangan Heavenly Empress Palace (馬祖南竿天后宮), a temple dedicated to the goddess, contains the sarcophagus of Lin Muoniang. It is, however, not as popular as the Meizhou temple.

Most Taiwanese pilgrims to Meizhou start off their journey in the Matsu Islands because they are the closest Taiwan-controlled base to Meizhou, which is controlled by the PRC.

See also



External links