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Meizhou Island (simplified Chinese: 湄洲岛; traditional Chinese: 湄洲島; pinyin: Méizhōudǎo) is a small island close to the shores of Putian, Fujian Province, People's Republic of China. It is known for being the birthplace of the goddess Matsu. Meizhou has 38,000 inhabitants, most of whom are involved in the fishing industry.
An open provincial tourism economic region (旅游经济区) since June 1988, in April 1992 Meizhou Island introduced a landing visa policy for visitors from Taiwan. In October of the same year it became a national tourism-vacation region (国家旅游度假区). The island was formally opened to visitors from overseas in October 1999.
Annually, some 100,000 Taiwanese pilgrims come to Meizhou to see the place where Matsu once lived, some of whom visit every year.
Meizhou Island is administered by Meizhou Town, an area that is divided into 11 villages:
- Gaozhu (高朱)
- Xiashan (下山) "Downhill"
- Lianche (莲池) "Lotus Pond"
- Beidai (北埭 dài) "North Dam"
- Dongcai (东蔡) "The East Cais"
- Xiting (西亭) "The Western Pavilion"
- Ganglou (港楼) "The Tower by the Port"
- Zhaixia (寨下) "Lower Village"
- Dayang (大洋) "Great Ocean"
along with three others.
Located in the northern part of the mouth of Meizhou Bay, Meizhou Island covers an area of 14.35 square kilometres (5.54 sq mi) and measures 9.6 kilometres (6.0 mi) north-south, and 1.3 kilometres (0.81 mi) east-west. The beach runs for around 20 kilometres (12 mi).
The Heavenly Empress Palace-Meizhou Ancestral Temple (天后宮湄洲祖廟) began as a small shrine soon after Matsu's death in the 10th century. It has now been renovated and greatly enlarged to accommodate pilgrims.
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