Lamay Island or Golden Lion Island (Chinese: 小琉球; pinyin: Xiǎo Liúqiú; Wade–Giles: Hsiao Liu-ch'iu; literally "Lesser Liuqiu") is an island belonging to the Republic of China (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 Tungkang 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.
There are no rivers on the island, and farming is very difficult. Most residents make their living by fishing, and in recent years the island has become noted for cage aquaculture. Efforts for planned development received a boost after the island was included in the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area in 2004. 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.
Lamay 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]
Lamay 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.
- Tapeng Bay National Scenic Area (Chinese)
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