||It has been suggested that Liouciou Township be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since July 2014.|
Little Liuqiu, Lamay/Lamey or Golden Lion Island (Chinese: 小琉球; pinyin: Xiǎo Liúqiú; Wade–Giles: Hsiao3 Liu2-ch'iu2; literally: "Lesser Liuqiu") is an island belonging to the Taiwan and administered as Liuqiu Township (Chinese: 琉球鄉; Hanyu Pinyin: Liúqiú Xiāng; Tongyong Pinyin: Lióucióu Siang) of Pingtung County. It has an area of 6.8 km² and lies 15 km (8 nautical miles) west of Donggang and it is Taiwan's only large coral island. The eight villages that currently exist on the island are populated by approximately 13,000 residents with 10 shared surnames.
Etymology and names
Little Liuqiu was once known as Lamay/Lambay isle, a term that most probably originates from a Taiwanese aboriginal language.
During the Dutch occupation of Taiwan the Dutch took control of the island and renamed the island "Golden Lion Island" as a memorial to the crews of a Dutch ship named the Golden Lion who were killed by local aboriginals during the invasion.
According to the book of Yuan Shi (Book of the history of the Yuan Dynasty), ‘Liuqiu’ originally refers to the island that is today Taiwan. But since the Ming Dynasty the term ‘Liuqiu’ changed to refer to the Lamay island, the island that is today Little Liuqiu, but due to various confusion between the "Liuqiu" and the Mandarin name of the Ryukyu islands of Japan (which is also literally "Liuqiu"), the name "Little Liuqiu" was used to refer to the island since the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan.
After the Republic of China took control of Taiwan, the island was administrated under the name Liuqiu Township as a part of Pingtung County, the only island township of the county.
Located at the southwest coast of Taiwan, the island is bordered by the Taiwan strait to the west and the South China Sea to the South, it is one of Taiwan's largest coral island and the only one with significant population and human activities. There are no rivers on the island therefore farming is very difficult. Most residents make their living by fishing, and in recent years the island has become noted for cage aquaculture.
Liuqiu island has a tropical monsoon climate, with warm temperatures year round with a rainy season from April to October and a dry season with cooler temperatures from November to March of the following year. The sea temperature of Little Liuqiu maintains above 25 degrees Celsius year round, making it one of the best location for swimming activities during the winter in Taiwan, as well as allowing up to thousands of different species of coral reefs to inhabit the area.
|Climate data for Liuqiu Township|
|Average high °C (°F)||25.1
|Average low °C (°F)||18.0
|Source: Wunderground |
|25.0 °C (77.0 °F)||25.2 °C (77.4 °F)||25.7 °C (78.3 °F)||26.9 °C (80.4 °F)||28.1 °C (82.6 °F)||29.1 °C (84.4 °F)||29.4 °C (84.9 °F)||29.2 °C (84.6 °F)||28.8 °C (83.8 °F)||28.1 °C (82.6 °F)||27.0 °C (80.6 °F)||25.8 °C (78.4 °F)||27.4 °C (81.3 °F)|
Efforts for planned development received a boost after the island was included in the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area in 2004, tourism of the island gradually got popular mainly since the late 2000s, with the increase of media exposure and various advertisements. There are now at least hundreds of different BnBs or hotels on the island providing hostile for the tourists, many of which includes packages such as bicycle renting or scuba diving. According to Pingtung county's statistics of tourism, the number of visitors of Little Liuqiu has peaked above 500 thousand per year as of 2013, a relatively large amount for an island that is only 6.8 km² in size.
Some of the best-known local sights include Black Ghost Cave (烏鬼洞), Beautiful Maiden Cave, Houshih Rock Formations, and Venice Beach.
The island is now a popular tourist destination and is well known for its ghost stories and rumors of haunted caves. The most famous haunted cave is Black Ghost Cave. Carved on the entrance of the cave is this story:
It was in 1661 (the 15th year of the Yong Li Ming Dynasty) national hero Koxinga (Cheng Chen-kung, 鄭成功), knighted as Yen Ping King, drove the Dutch and restored Taiwan and the Pescadores (Penghu). During the Dutch escaping, some negroes were separated from their unit and arrived at this island. They lived in this cave. Some years later, a British boat with soldiers landed at the place northeast of the cave. As they were enjoying the scenery, those negroes robbed their food and other things, burned the boat and killed all the British. It was discovered by the British warship that they landed this island and sought the murderers while the negroes hid in the cave. In spite of many threats, they refused to surrender. Finally, the British burned the cave with oil. Then, all the negroes died there in the cave. Later it was named as the Black Spirit Cave, which means the cave in which the foreign negroes had lived before.
Beautiful Maiden Cave (美人洞) is another cave with a tragic legend attached to its history. The cave is named after the young daughter of a Ming loyalist who was exiled from China by the Manchurians. According to legend, the loyalist lived with his daughter in the cave, surviving on plants and small fish. When the father eventually died, his daughter was so stricken with grief that she bit her own tongue off and died.
Currently, the only transportation to the island is by ship, although there is an airport on the island which once served as an passenger airport with direct flights between Kaohsiung international airport and Little Liuqiu, the airport is now for helicopter use only. The island is 8-9 nautical miles away from the Taiwan mainland, which is about a 25 to 30-minute boat ride.
Liuqiu island is famous for its 38 temples—six per square kilometer. The most important temple on the island is Piyun Temple, dedicated to Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. On Guanyin's birthday, the nineteenth day of the second lunar month, a festival is held in Piyun Temple. Taiwanese opera troupes perform twice a day in front of the major temples for 40 to 50 days.[vague]
Liuqiu island is well known for its diverse ecosystem. Chung Au Beach, a popular tourist destination, is a shell sand beach abutting waters that are home to approximately 176 species of fish and numerous coral species. It is also home to subadult and adult green sea turtles, with adult females coming ashore to nest during the summer months.
- Black Ghost Cave Incident
- "Climate". Wunderground.
- David Momphard (2004-07-18). "Of grottoes and graves". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
- di Genova, Trista (10 July 2008). "Hsiao Liuchiu: Unknown paradise on the sea". The China Post. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- Tapeng Bay National Scenic Area (Chinese)
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