Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Xiamen or Hsia–men from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

city & port SE China in S Fujian on two islands pop 308,000


Summary Article: Xiamen
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Industrial port in Fujian province, southeast China, on Xiamen Island; population (2010) 3,531,400. Products include electronics, machinery, textiles, foods, and chemicals. It was one of the original five treaty ports used for trade under foreign control from 1842 to 1943, and a special economic zone from 1979 offering incentives and special privileges to foreign investors.

Location and communications Xiamen Island is situated at the mouth of the Jiulong River, and connected to the mainland by a long causeway. To the west are the Quemoy Islands and Taiwan.

The port has a good harbour, but its communications inland were poor until it was connected to the national railway network in 1956. It is also served by the coastal national highway.

Economy Xiamen's traditional trading links, particularly with Taiwan, went into decline after 1949. Since offering incentives and special privileges to foreign investors after 1979, and with renewed links to Taiwan, new export-oriented light industries have developed in the city, the harbour facilities have been improved, and Xiamen has resumed its role as an important regional port.

Migration A long-standing connection existed between Xiamen and Malaysia, and many people from Xiamen moved there in search of work. Many of the Chinese settlers in Taiwan came from the area around Xiamen, and the Taiwanese dialect is still very similar to that of southern Fujian.

History The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Xiamen in the 1540s, and later the English, Dutch, and Spanish also traded here, when the port was known by its local name, Amoy. In 1730 the port was closed to European traders, and was reopened to foreign trade by a treaty in 1842. It became an important centre for the export of tea.

The former foreign settlement is on Gulangyu, a little rocky island opposite the main port. Xiamen University was founded in 1921. The Japanese captured the port in 1938.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Xiamen
The Columbia Encyclopedia

(shyä'mŭn') or Amoy ämoi', city (1994 est. pop. 458,000), S Fujian prov., China, on Xiamen island, at the mouth of the Jiulong River. It has an excel

Full text Article Xiamen (Hsia-men or Amoy)
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

24 26N 118 07E A city in SE China on the island of Xiamen, in Fujian province, situated on Taiwan Strait. It is linked to the...

Full text Article Xiamen
Philip's Encyclopedia

Seaport city in Fujian province, SE China. As Amoy, it flourished in the 19th century after being declared an open port by the Treaty of Nanking...

See more from Credo