Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Matsu Islands (馬祖列島 or less frequently, 馬祖群島 Pinyin: Mǎzǔ) are a minor archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County (連江 Pinyin: Liánjiāng), Fujian Province of the Republic of China (ROC, based on Taiwan). Not all of what is historically part of Lienchiang county is under the control of the ROC. The People's Republic of China controls the part of the county adjoining the mainland and has a separate administration for that jurisdiction, Lianjiang County, which claims the entire archipelago to be its Mazu Township (妈祖乡).
Lienchiang County emblem
Abbreviation: Matsu (馬祖)
|County magistrate||Chen Hsueh-sheng(陳雪生)|
|County flower:||Hairy Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)|
|County tree:||(County tree goes here)|
|County bird:||Chinese Crested Tern|
|(1) old measures: 28.8km²|
After the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the ROC retained the part of Lienchiang County offshore (and the entire Kinmen County as well). The common Romanization used in the ROC is Wade-Giles (Lienchiang) while the PRC uses pinyin (Lianjiang). However, the name is the same in Chinese.
The phrase "Quemoy and Matsu" became part of U.S. politics in the 1960 Presidential election. During the debates, both candidates, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy pledged to use U.S. force if necessary to protect the Republic of China from invasion from the mainland, the People's Republic of China, which the U.S. did not at that time recognize as a legitimate government. Vice-President Nixon charged that Senator Kennedy would not use U.S. force to protect Taiwan's forward positions, Quemoy and Matsu.
In April 2003, the county government started considering changing the name to Matsu County to avoid confusion with the county of the same name on the mainland. This is the first example of a local government officially wishing to change its name.
Lienchiang County (of the ROC) is currently divided into four townships:
- Nangan Township (南竿鄉 Nángān) "Southern Fishing Pole"
- Beigan Township (北竿鄉 Běigān) "Northern Fishing Pole"
- Jyuguang Township (莒光鄉 Jǔguāng) "Brilliance of the Ju Kingdom"
- Dongyin Township (東引鄉 Dōngyǐn) "Welcoming the East"
Altogether, there are 22 Lienchiang villages, which are further divided into 137 neighborhoods (鄰 lín).
All townships, except Jyuguang, are named after the largest island in its jurisdictional area, but most townships also include other islets.
The Matsu Islands include five major islands: Nangan, Dongjyu and Sijyu (both in Jyuguang Township), Beigan, and Dongyin. Minor islands include Liang (亮島), Gaodeng (高登), Daciou (大坵), and Siaociou (小坵) -- all belong to the Peikan Township.
- North: 26º18' N
- South: 25º56' N
- East: 120º1'20" E
- West: 119º51' E
Another set of coordinates: 119°51'-120°31' E, 25°55'-26°44' N
Dongyin is the northernmost and Dongjyu is the southernmost.
- Dongyin is 100 nautical miles from Keelung, Taiwan, 180 to the Pescadores Islands, and slightly over 10 nautical miles from the mainland.
- The soils are not ideal for farming.
- The highest point is on Peikan, 298 metres.
- Nangan: 10.43 km²
- Beigan: 8.86 km²
- Dongyin: 4.35 km²
- Jyuguang islands: see Jyuguang
Average annual temperature is 8.9°, with the lowest point being 1.3°.
The language spoken by Matsu residents is the Ping language (平話), a dialect of Northern Fujianese.
Several islands are not inhabited permanently, some of which are stationed by ROC soldiers.
Since 1990, the county controls the Matsu Islands Bird Sanctuary (馬祖列島燕鷗保護區), which spreads across eight islands and islets in Nangan, Beigan and Tongyin Townships. It contains 30 species in 15 orders, mostly gulls and terns. In 2000, four pairs of the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern, previously thought to be extinct, were discovered nesting on the Matsu Islands, giving them global conservation importance.
Connection to the goddess
Matsu, though named after the goddess Matsu, is written with a different character that has a different tone. But the Matsu Islands are not the birthplace of the goddess as the human Lin Muoniang -- Meizhou Island is -- but her death place (on a seaport named after her on Nangan Island).
The Matsu Nangan Heavenly Empress Palace (馬祖南竿天后宮), a temple dedicated to the goddess, contains the sarcophagus of Lin Muoniang. It is, however, not as popular as the Meizhou temple.
Most Taiwanese pilgrims to Meizhou start off their journey in Matsu Islands because they are the closest ROC-controlled base to Meizhou, which is controlled by the PRC
- County Official Website (in Traditional Chinese)
- Large map of ROC (showing Quemoy and Matsu)
- Smaller map (from CNN)
- Map of just the islands (in Traditional Chinese)
- Name change: Taipei Times article
- Matzu Scenic Area
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