Gulangyu

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Kulangsu, a Historic International Settlement
UNESCO World Heritage site
Gulangyu island.jpg
Location Xiamen, Fujian, China
Criteria Cultural: ii, iv
Reference 1541
Inscription 2017 (41st Session)
Area 316.2 ha
Buffer zone 886 ha
Coordinates 24°26′51″N 118°03′43″E / 24.44750°N 118.06194°E / 24.44750; 118.06194
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 屿
Traditional Chinese
Hokkien POJ Kó͘-lōng-sū
Postal Kulangsu
Literal meaning Drum Wave Islet
Gulangyu is located in Fujian
Gulangyu
Location of Gulangyu in Fujian.
Gulangyu is located in China
Gulangyu
Gulangyu (China)

The Gulangyu, Gulang Island or Kulangsu is a pedestrian-only island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian Province in southerneastern China. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, the island is about 2 km2 (0.77 sq mi) in area, and is reached by a 5-minute ferry ride from downtown Xiamen. Although only about 20,000 people live on the island, Gulangyu is a major domestic tourist destination, attracting more than 10 million visitors per year, and making it one of China's most visited tourist attractions.[1] Gulangyu not only bans cars, but also bicycles. The only vehicles permitted are small electric buggies and electric government service vehicles.

Visitors can reach Gulangyu by ferry from the ferry terminal in Xiamen. Local residents are allowed to use a shorter 5-minute ferry to/from the Lun Du Ferry Terminal. During the day (every 20 minutes, 7:10am–5:50pm), tourists and non-locals must take a 20-minute ferry ride from the Dongdu International Cruise Terminal to either Nei Cuo Ao or Kulangsu Town, which costs 35 yuan. After 6pm, tourists and non-locals can now take a more convenient ferry from Lundu Terminal 2, which drops off at San Qiu Tian Terminal in Kulangsu Town. That service runs all night, and costs 35 yuan between 6pm and midnight (every 20 minutes) and 5 yuan between midnight and 7am (every hour).[2]

Gulangyu Island is renowned for its beaches and winding lanes and its varied architecture. The island is on China's list of National Scenic Spots, is classified as a 5A tourist attraction by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), and ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in the province.

Administratively, the island presently forms Gulangyu Subdistrict of Xiamen's Siming District.

History[edit]

View of the International Settlement c. 1908

The International Settlement[edit]

The Sikh police force

For a time, Gulangyu had the peculiarity of having constituted the only international settlement on Chinese soil apart from the more celebrated International Settlement at Shanghai.

Soon after Xiamen became a treaty port resulting from China's loss in the First Opium War and the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, foreign residents on the island established an informal organization that became formally organized several decades later when its Land Regulations were approved by the government of China in May 1902.[3] Eventually 13 countries, including Great Britain, France, The Netherlands and Japan, were to enjoy extraterritorial privileges there and take part in the Kulangsu Municipal Council that administered the settlement. As with the Shanghai International Settlement, the British played a predominant role in the administration and Sikh policemen from British India were charged with the policing of the Settlement. The consulates, churches, hospitals, schools, police stations, etc. built by those foreign communities explain the predominantly Victorian-era style architecture that can still be seen throughout Gulangyu. Japanese occupation of the island began in 1942, and lasted until the end of World War II. The Hokkien dialect is spoken on the island, as it is in Xiamen.

Attractions[edit]

Gulangyu Island Statue of Koxinga facing Xiamen
Gulangyu Island Walking Map

As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China's only piano museum,[4] giving it the nickname of "Piano Island" or "The Town of Pianos" (鋼琴之鄉) or "The Island of Music" (音樂之島).[5] There are over 200 pianos on this island.

The Chinese name also has musical roots, as 鼓浪 Kó͘-lōng which means drum waves so-called because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. 嶼 sū means "islet".

In addition, there is a museum dedicated to Koxinga, Hai-toe Se-kai (海底世界) Marine World, a subtropical garden containing plants introduced by overseas Chinese, as well as Xiamen Museum, formerly the Eight Diagrams Tower (八卦樓).

The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian-only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and electric tourist buggies. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, give the island a unique appearance. The site is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[6]

Mount Lit-kong-giam (日光岩 Sunlight Rock) is the highest place on Gulangyu
View of urban area, Xiamen from Mount Lit-kong-giam

Transportation[edit]

Gulangyu is unique in China as a "traffic-free island". It is connected to the main island of Xiamen only by ferry.

Neither cars nor bicycles are allowed, thus providing an alternative to the frenetic Xiamen Island across the river, although the recent introduction of electric tourist buggies may be damaging the island's charm. Freight is pulled on wheeled wooden carts up the often steep lanes by strong teams of men.

Culture[edit]

The spread of Christianity in 1900s brought western music to the island. Churches and museums were built, and people enjoyed going to music halls to hear performances. Since then, the island's local cultural environment mingled with introduced foreign music and art, which is why the Gulangyu cultural scene differs from other parts of China.[7]

Classical music[edit]

A number of China's most famous classical musicians come from Gulangyu, including the pianist Yin Chengzong, the violist Jing Yang, and the pianist Xu Feiping. Historically, Shu'an Zhou, Junji Lin, and Zuohuang Chen are other well-known classical musicians from the island. Gulangyu's piano ownership per capita ranks the first in nation, and by 2002, Gulangyu Island was given the name of "The Island of Music" by Chinese Musicians' Association. The piano exhibition halls and museums and overall artistic atmosphere attract many musicians domestically and internationally. The 580-seat Gulangyu Concert Hall is one of Fujian Province's most notable acoustic classical music venues.[8] The world-renowned classical violist Jing Yang is from Gulangyu, and also lives on the island.

Awards[edit]

In 2005, Gulangyu Island was named the most beautiful district of China by Chinese National Geography magazine.[9]

On May 2007, Xiamen Gulangyu Island was officially proved as the National 5A Tourist Attractions by the National Tourism Administration of China.[6]

On July 8, 2017, Gulangyu was listed as a World Heritage Site.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kulangsu Island: a world-renowned tourist resort – Kulangsu Island (Gulangyu)". kulangsuisland.org. Retrieved 2017-06-04. 
  2. ^ "Getting to Kulangsu by Ferry from Xiamen – Kulangsu Island (Gulangyu)". kulangsuisland.org. Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  3. ^ William C. Johnstone, International Relations: The Status of Foreign Concessions and Settlements in the Treaty Ports of China, The American Political Science Review, No. 5, October 1937, p. 943.
  4. ^ "Kulangsu Piano Museum". Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  5. ^ Bolsover, Gillian (1 February 2012). "Gulangyu: China's loveliest island". CNN GO. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "AAAAA Scenic Areas". China National Tourism Administration. 16 November 2008. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Location and origins – Kulangsu Island (Gulangyu)". kulangsuisland.org. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  8. ^ "Kulangsu Concert Hall". kulangsuisland.org. Retrieved 2017-07-05. 
  9. ^ Hessler, Peter. "China's Journey - National Geographic Magazine". ngm.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 

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