Wanshan Archipelago

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Wanshan / Guishan / Dan'gan
万山镇 / 桂山镇 / 担杆镇
Ladrones Islands and Lema Islands (bottom part of the map) on an 1878 German map
Ladrones Islands and Lema Islands (bottom part of the map) on an 1878 German map
Country China
Province Guangdong
City Zhuhai
District Xiangzhou
 • Total 86 km2 (33 sq mi)
 • Total 4,813
 • Density 56/km2 (140/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Website http://www.wanshan.gov.cn/
Wanshan Archipelago
Simplified Chinese 万山群岛
Traditional Chinese 萬山羣島 or 萬山群島
Literal meaning Ten Thousand Islands Archipelago[Notes 1]

The Wanshan Archipelago (lit. Myriad Islands Archipelago), sometimes referred to as the Ladrones Islands (Thieves Islands), is a 104-island archipelago that is part of the Xiangzhou District of Zhuhai Municipality in Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China.


Most of the islands of the archipelago are in the Wanshan Marine Development Experimental Zone (万山海洋开发试验区) which consist of three towns:[1] Guishan Town (桂山镇), Dan'gan Town (担杆镇) and Wanshan Town (万山镇).


The islands are situated in the South China Sea, to the south of the opening of the Pearl River estuary and Hong Kong.

The Wanshan Islands also include some islands in Hong Kong and Macau, such as Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island in Hong Kong, Taipa-Coloane Island in Macau.[citation needed]

The archipelago includes several groups of islands. On the older European maps, the western group, located south of the Pearl River estuary and Hong Kong's island of Lantau, and including the Greater Wanshan Island (Dawanshan Dao), Guishan Dao, Zhizhou Liedao group, Wai Dangling Dao, Sanmen Liedao group, and Aizhou Liedao group, was known as the Ladrones Islands (that is, "Thieves Islands", in Spanish or Portuguese). The eastern chain of islands, located south of Hong Kong, was known in the West as the Lema Islands; today, the western half of this chain is known as Jiapeng Liedao, and the eastern half as Dan'gan Liedao.

The largest island, Dan'gan, features mountainous terrain similar to Hong Kong.

List of islands[edit]

Erzhou Dao, seen from Ocean Park Hong Kong.
Beijian Dao

Islands of the archipelago include:

Dan'gan Liedao (担杆列岛), the eastern group of Wanshan archipelago, and the eastern half of the former Lema Islands chain

  • Dan'gan Dao (担杆岛), 13.2 km2 in area and the largest of the islands; 200 permanent residents
  • Erzhou Dao (二洲岛), 8.15 km2
  • Zhiwan Dao (直湾岛), 4.5 km2
  • Xidan Dao (细担岛), 0.85 km2

Jiapeng Liedao (佳蓬列岛), the southern group of Wanshan archipelago, and the western half of the former Lema Islands chain

  • Eyan Shi Dao (枙咽石岛, O-yen Shih). A 39m high islet about 1 mile north of Beijian Dao.[2]
  • Beijian Dao (北尖岛), 3.17 km2. Two peaks rising almost perpendicularly to a height of 300m on the southwestern end of the island, are known as Asses' Ears.[2]
  • Miaowan Dao (庙湾岛), 1.46 km2 in area.[3] 240m high.[2] It has a small population of fishermen.[3]
  • Shan Zhou (杉洲), 0.16 km2
  • Wanzhou Dao (湾洲岛)
  • Ping Zhou (平洲), 0.144 km2
  • Wenwei Zhou (蚊尾洲; "Mosquito Tail Island", also Gap Rock in English), 0.022 km2. The small island is in the form of two hillocks, about 80 to 100 feet high, and the island derives its English name from the gap between them.[4] The Gap Rock Lighthouse (蚊尾洲燈塔) on the island was built to serve as a navigation aid to vessels sailing to Hong Kong. It was built by a Hong Kong contractor and partly funded by the Imperial Qing Government for both construction and maintenance costs. It came into operation in 1892 and was restored in 1986.[5][6][7]

Southwestern group, apparently without a general name

  • Dawanshan Dao (大万山岛), 8.07 km2. The seat of Wanshan Town (万山镇) of Zhuhai is located on the island
  • Xiaowanshan Dao (小万山岛), 4.35 km2.[8]
  • Baili Dao (白沥岛), 7.94 km2
  • Dong'ao Dao (东澳岛), 4.62 km2 in area with population of 500. Club Med opened a holiday resort on the island in 2014.[9]
  • Heng Zhou (横洲), 0.54 km2
  • Zhu Zhou (竹洲; "Bamboo Island"), 1.66 km2
  • Gui Zhou (贵洲), 0.32 km2
  • Dalie Dao (大烈岛), 0.36 km2
  • Huangmao Dao (黄茅岛), 1.08 km2
Shek Kwu Chau (left), an island of Hong Kong and Wai Lingding Dao (right), part of the "Central group" of Wanshan Archipelago.

Central group, apparently without a general name; located south of Lantau

  • Wai Lingding Dao (外伶仃岛), 3.7 km2 in area and a tourist attraction with natural sites and temples. The seat of Dan'gan Town (担杆镇) of Zhuhai is located on the island
  • Sanmen Liedao (三门列岛)
    • Sanmen Dao (三门岛), 0,98 km2
    • Yuangang Dao (圆岗岛), 0.016 km2
    • Zhuwantou Dao, 0.33 km2
    • Henggang Dao, 0.74 km2
  • Aizhou Liedao (隘洲列岛)
    • Ai Zhou (隘洲), 1.2 km2
    • Ai Zhou Zi (隘洲仔; "baby Aizhou"), 0.6 km2
View from Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong. The closest islands are the Soko Islands, part of the territory of Hong Kong. The four most distant islands are part of the Wanshan Archipelago. From left to right: Ai Zhou, Ai Zhou Zi, Dazhi Zhou, Xiaozhi Zhou.
Dazhi Zhou (upper) and Xiaozhi Zhou (centre)

Northwestern group, apparently without a general name; located between Lantau and Macau

  • Zhizhou Liedao (蜘洲列岛)
    • Dazhi Zhou (大蜘洲), 1.67 km2
    • Xiaozhi Zhou (小蜘洲), 1.2 km2
  • Guishan Dao (桂山岛) - formerly PLA base from the 1950s. The seat of Guishan Town (桂山镇) of Zhuhai is located on the island
  • Niutou Dao (牛头岛), 1.1 km2. Connected by a road to Guishan Dao
  • Zhongxin Zhou (中心洲), 0.6 km2
  • Chitou Dao (赤滩岛), 0.17 km2
  • Sanjiaoshan Dao (三角山岛), 0.82 km2
  • Qing Zhou (青洲)
  • Sanjiao Zhou
  • Dalu Dao (大碌岛)
  • Datou Zhou (大头洲)

Other geographically important points of interest:

  • Lema Channel is a major waterway in the archipelago.
  • Dahengqin Dao is an island off Macau and not part of this archipelago.
  • Erzhou, rising to 437.7m above sea level, is the highest point in the archipelago


There is a small local population, mostly in small fishing villages:

  • Dan'gan
  • Dan'ganwei
  • Nacun


The archipelago's economy is mainly fisheries (crystal prawn, peeler crab). There is a growing tourism industry with a focus on history, beaches, and the natural beauty of the islands. About 350,000 tourists visit the islands annually. Club Med opened a holiday resort on Dong'ao in 2014.[9]

There is also potential for petroleum extraction in the waters off the islands.

Tourist sites[edit]

Wen Tianxiang statue on Guishan

Tourist sites of Wanshan Archipelago include:

  • Dong'ao: Blundbuss Tower; Son-Soliciting Springs
  • Dan'gan: Dan'gan Village
  • Guishan: Monument to the Martyrs of Guishan Warship; Wen Tianxiang Park
  • Miaowan: Xiafeng Bay, a coral beach adjacent to the fishing village.[3]
  • Wanshan: A-Ma Temple; Floating Cobbles Bay


  • Ferry service from Zhuhai to Guishan, Wai Lingding, Dan'gan, Dong'ao and Wanshan
  • Fast/Slow Ferry service to Guishan, Wai Lingding, Xiangzhou
  • Sightseeing Ferryboats from Zhuhai

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 山 (Shan) literally means hills and mountains. Before the emerging of Modern China, 山 also refers to islands.


  • The Atlas of Guangdong (广东省), published by 星珠地图出版社 (Xingzhu Ditu Chubanshe), 2007. ISBN 978-7-80212-086-0.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 21°57′N 113°45′E / 21.950°N 113.750°E / 21.950; 113.750