encircled by islands large and small with sandy beaches, is known as
'Pearl on the East China Sea'.
The whole city is composed of Xiamen
Island, Gulangyu Island and the northern coast of Jiulongjiang, among
which Xiamen Island is the largest one, covering an total area of 28
The elliptical Gulangyu Island, much
smaller in area, boasts many more attractions. Most people will also
admire the beautiful campus of Xiamen University, which is built along
the coast, forming a sharp contrast with those in other parts of
It is estimated that there are over 380,000 Fujianese in 73 different countries across the world today. This migratory aspect of Fujian life has featured largely in the western and Chinese press lately, as thousands of Fujian residents brave the horrors of the potentially treacherous journey to attempt a life abroad, putting themselves at the hands of Xiamen's notorious 'Snakeheads'.
Over the years, overseas Chinese have contributed a great deal to the local economy here, many investing in their hometown and returning to set up business. The first long-distance ocean line and the first railway line were all set up and financed by overseas Chinese. More recently, it was also the overseas Chinese who initiated a far-flung campaign for introducing valuable managerial style and much-needed foreign capital to Xiamen, quickly making the city one of the fastest growing economic areas in the province.
There is a strange combination of ideas at work in Xiamen. On the one hand, Fujianese residents are coming back to their native land and investing their lifetimes work. While on the other, many of those earning considerably lower incomes are risking their lives and those of their families, in an attempt to leave their native province. It's a controversial topic, worsened by recent tragedies involving illegal immigrants. This is also an issue that is unlikely to die down, particularly considering the emotive subject matter, and the nature of the men controlling this illegal trade in people.