Fujian Province

Fujian Province, also called Min for short, is in southeastern China. The province is about 46,000 square miles in area (about the size of England), and much of it covered by subtropical vegetation. To the north, west and south mountains form its border, while to the east the province looks some 100 miles across the straits to Taiwan. Fujian's coastline is twisted and complex. Only extending about 310 miles as the crow flies, the coastline in fact meanders in and out and around covering over 1,800 miles, and there are about 1,000 islands off its shores. Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Xiamen are the most important harbors in the province. The proximity to Taiwan has exerted a powerful influence on Fujian. Even before 1949, the majority of the people in Taiwan were of Fujianese extraction. The same local dialect is spoken on both sides of the straits, and active trade between the two economies has taken place even when frowned on by authorities. Relatives visit one another across the straits and many even cross from Taiwan to die in their motherland.

The province is divided into eight municipalities: Fuzhou, Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Putian, Sanming, Nanping, and Longyan, plus Ningde administrative prefecture. Fuzhou is the provincial capital. The province is the home to a diverse set of ethnic groups. In addition to the Han majority ethnic group, the She, Hui, Mongolian, Manchu, Gaoshan, and 26 other minority groups live in Fujian. Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, three principal religions in the world, have a considerable influence in this province.

Fujian's climate is subtropical maritime, with hot and sticky summers, cool and pleasant autumns and winters. Plentiful rainfall and the backdrop of hills and mountains have produced rivers short and swift. The province is rich in natural resources. More than 100 types of minerals are mined, including tungsten, iron, aluminium and copper. About 40 percent of the province is covered in forest. Only about 20 percent of Fujian's land area is suitable for agriculture, but that portion is highly fertile, in particular the area encompassing Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou and the 16 counties under their jurisdiction.

Fujian or Min cooking is one of eight 'notable styles' in Chinese cuisine. As Fujian is a coastal province, emphasis is on fish and shellfish, frequently flavored with rice or grain wine. In Fuzhou, the provincial capital, the local delicacy is a type of freshwater mussel (haibang), which is found at the mouth of the Min River.

Among the arts, the Minju, Liuyuan, and Puxian operas, Quanzhang puppetry, and Nanyin music, all of which originated in Fujian Province, have had a cultural influence throughout China. The well-developed and somewhat independent culture of the province has produced noted philosphers and many heroic people in history. Many contemporary revolutionaries, scientists, authors, artists, and architects are also from Fujian.

Fujianese people are said to epitomize Chinese entrepreneurial skills. This is evident in the busy city markets and in the business empires built all over Southeast Asia by Fujianese emigrants. The province is the ancestral home of about one-third of the world's overseas Chinese (approximately 20 million) - a direct consequence of its coastal position and long seafaring tradition.

adapted from the Passport Travel Guide to Fujian