Xiamen, formerly romanized as Amoy, is a sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian, China, beside the Taiwan Strait. It is divided into six districts: Huli, Siming, Jimei, Tong’an, Haicang, and Xiang’an. Altogether, these cover an area of 1,699.39 square kilometers (656.14 sq mi) with a population of 3,531,347 as of 2010. The urbanized area of the city has spread from its original island to include parts of all six of its districts, with a total population of 1,861,289. This area connects to Quanzhou in the north and Zhangzhou in the west, making up a metropolis of more than five million people. The Jinmen or Kinmen Islands administered by the Republic of China lie less than 6 kilometers (4 mi) away.
Xiamen Island was considered to possess one of the world’s great natural harbors in Yundang Bay, but Fujian’s international trade was long restricted to Quanzhou or to Guangzhou in Guangdong. Due to the siltification of Quanzhou’s harbor, the British insisted that Xiamen be opened to foreign trade in the treaty that ended the First Opium War in 1842. Under the Qing, both before and after the war, there was a large-scale emigration of Chinese from southern Fujian who spread Hokkien-speaking communities to Singapore, Malaysia (especially in Penang), Indonesia (Medan and Riau Province) and the Philippines. The overseas Chinese continue to support Xiamen’s educational and cultural institutions. As part of China’s Opening Up Policy under Deng Xiaoping, Xiamen became one of the original four special economic zones opened to foreign investment and trade in the early 1980s. Its former harbor was enclosed using land excavated during the city’s expansion.
The city is known for its mild climate, Hokkien culture and colonial architecture, as well as its relatively low pollution. In 2006, Xiamen was ranked as China’s 2nd-“most suitable city for living”, as well as China’s “most romantic leisure city” in 2011.