Kinmen (aka Jinmen or Quemoy) is a group of islands off the coast of Xiamen, China, belonging to Taiwan. For years it was the front lines and closest territory to China during the Chinese Civil War, which has not officially ended. Now that the war with China has come to a close due to the establishment of the "status quo," Kinmen has been open to tourism, especially from that of China. Kinmen has the highest concentration of museums and historical buildings in almost anywhere in Taiwan, as well as local cuisine, beaches, and scenery, making it an ideal vacation destination for both Taiwanese, Chinese, and other foreign tourists.
Kinmen first began to be settled by Chinese people in the Tang Dynasty (around 700 AD). It got it;s name Jinmen "Golden Gate" from the Hongwu Emporer who set up military operations on the main Island during the Ming Dynasty in 1387. The name Quemoy comes from the Hokkien pronunciation of the name.
After the fall of the Ming Dynasty (1644), Ming Loyalists continued to occupy Kinmen under the Prince of Lu and Kongxia, but Kinmen was eventually captured by the Qing in 1663.
The Islands were never ceded to Japan.
After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Kinmen (along with the rest of China) was governed by the Republic of China (ROC). When the ROC lost the Chinese Civil War, they retreated to Taiwan under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, but still maintaining some outlying islands off of the west coast of China. The ROC army dug into Kinmen and fortified almost every inch of the island, holding off PRC invasion. Perhaps the most pivotal battle in holding off the communists was the battle of Guningtou in which 9,000 PRC troops were defeated and captured in an attempt to take back the island of Kinmen. The battle effectively stopped the PRC from advancing toward invasion of Taiwan, because in 1950 the Korean War started, demanding much of their manpower, buying time until the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1955, offering protection by the United States. against PRC invasion of Taiwan. Because of this, the battle laid the groundwork for the status quo between China and Taiwan as we know it today.
Kinmen was kept as a military reserve until it was made into a civilian government in the 1990s. Travel was reopened with China in 2001, which really opened the door for the tourism sector on the islands mainly driven by Chinese tourists. Many businessmen also moved to the island to gain easy entry into China from Taiwan. In 2015 the Taiwanese government made it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Kinmen by allowing them to apply for via on arrival.
Currently the island's main industry is tourism, but there is also large Sorghum Wine production industry, as well as agriculture and fishing.
Kinmen is a stronghold for the KMT party, mainly because the residents resent the fact that many in the pro-independence DPP would consider returning Kinmen to China in an independence treaty.
When to go:
Autumn is said to be the best time to visit, when there are still warm temperature and not too much rainfall. Spring also has great temperatures, but seasonal rains may dampen your travels. Summer can get really hot, which might be totally fine with you. The winter is cold and windy; don't go in winter.
How to get there:
By Plane: The only way to get to from Taiwan to Kinmen is via a airplane. Planes leave daily from Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Penghu, and Kaohsiung.
By Boat: You can reach Kinmen from Xiamen at Wutong port (五通碼頭) or Quanzhou at Shijing Port (石井碼頭), connecting at Shuitou Port (水頭碼頭).
Map: Please see below:
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