Shangchuan Island

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Shangchuan Island (Chinese: 上川岛; pinyin: Shàngchuāndǎo) also written (Schangschwan, Sancian, Sanchão, Chang-Chuang or St. John's Island) is the main island of Chuanshan Archipelago on the southern coast of China. Its name originated from São João - Saint John in Portuguese. It is part of the Guangdong province, in the South China Sea. Located 14 km from the mainland, it is the largest island in the province. The largest island formerly was the island of Hainan but that was carved out of Guangdong to became a separate province in 1988.

The population of the island is 16,320.

It is known in history for having been the place of death of St. Francis Xavier.

Administratively, Shangchuan Town (上川镇) is one of the 20 towns of Taishan county-level city.


Painting of the death of St. Francis Xavier by Francisco Goya.

Shangchuan Island was one of the first bases established by the Portuguese off the China coast, during the 16th century. They abandoned this base after the Chinese government gave consent for a permanent and official Portuguese trade base at Macau in 1557.

The Spanish (Navarre) Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier died on the island on December 2, 1552, as he was waiting for a ship to take him to mainland China.


The island has been isolated from the mainland since the last ice age. It is located near Xiachuan Island, which lies west of Shangchuan. The two islands, together with smaller islet, form Chuanshan Archipelago.

Shangchuan Town covers the main Shangshuan Island, as well as 12 islets. The total area of the town is 156.7 km². Shangshuan Island has an area of 137.3 km². The island has a 217 km long coastline.

Towns include:


Shangchuan along with Xiachuan have been established as a Tourism Open Integrated Experimental Zones (旅游开发综合试验区, pinyin: lǚyóu kāifā zōnghé shìyàn qū).

Feisha Beach Resort (飞沙滩旅游区) is a commercial tourist resort located on the island's eastern shore.


Shangchuan Island is linked by ferry to Guanghai, Haiyan (Shanju) and Xiachuan Island.

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Francis Xavier Chapel[edit]

Coordinates: 21°39′55″N 112°47′44″E / 21.66528°N 112.79556°E / 21.66528; 112.79556