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Rough Guide to Fuzhou Travel

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Located on China's southeastern coast, on the lower reaches of the Min River, Fuzhou City is the capital city of Fujian Province and also the economic, political, cultural and transportation center of Fujian. With a long tradition as a coastal port and shipbuilding center, Fuzhou is the major coastal city between Hong Kong and Shanghai. It is known as ''Banyan Town (''Rongcheng'' in Chinese)'' after the subtropical banyan trees planted there since the Song dynasty, which now provide shade for the entire city. Fuzhou's cultural and economic development has been heavily influenced by its proximity to Taiwan, directly across the Taiwan Straits. Fuzhou has many ethnic and linguistic links to Taiwan, and heavy cross-strait investment has helped to turn the city into a major commercial and manufacturing center.

Fuzhou's history dates back to the 3rd century BC, when it became a center for ore smelting. It was then known as Minzhou, and was the capital of the coastal kingdom of Minyue. When it was absorbed into the Tang dynasty, Fuzhou acquired its present name, which means ''prosperous city'' or ''fortunate city.'' It grew wealthy as a coastal export center for tea. Fuzhou's international links continued in the Ming dynasty, when it was the home port for the international voyages of the eunuch-admiral Zheng He in the early 15th century. In 1842, following the first Opium War, Fuzhou became one of the five ports declared open to foreign trade. It also became a center of both Catholic and Protestant missionary activity after that time.

At the time of the internationalization of the Chinese economy in the early 80s, Fuzhou was one of the 14 coastal cities which the State Council of PRC decided to target for development and international trade, which gave it an early start on the road to economic prosperity.

The climate of Fuzhou is comfortable, affording tourists the opportunity to visit the city all year round: the best time to visit is between April and November. Among the scenic attractions in the Fuzhou region are the Mt.Gu Scenic Area and the nearby Yongquan Temple, the fine Xichan Temple, and the Qingyun Mountain Scenic Area, which is famous for its superb mountain scenery and waterfalls. But of all the sightseeing experiences that the region has to offer, by far the most memorable is a trip to the famed Hakka earth houses, remarkable circular buildings designed for both communal living and collective defense.

Fuzhou has a rich cultural and artistic legacy. Min Opera is a local form of Chinese opera which developed during the Qing dynasty. Performances are lively and steeped in Fujian dialect, and although they are waning in popularity among young people, they can still be seen in Fuzhou theaters.

Among the handicrafts of the region are the ''Three Treasures of Fuzhou'' - lacquer work, stone sculpting and cork cutting - which visitors will want to put on their shopping list. Among the other local products of Fuzhou are wulong tea and tieguanyin tea.

The local cuisine is Fujian (or Min) cuisine, one of the eight great cooking styles of China. Min cuisine is distinguished by its choice seafood, beautiful color and magical sweet, sour and salty taste. Local delicacies include Buddha Jumps over the Wall (a mixture of seafood, poultry and vegetables stewed with pigeon eggs and rice wine), Shixiangzhui Spareribs (spareribs fried with water chestnuts and spices), and Chicken Soup with Sea Clams. As in other provinces, snacks are very much part of daily diet and the tasty Fuzhou snacks include Ding Bian Hu (Rice Pieces in Seafood Soup), Yu Wan (Fish Balls), and Li Bing (Oyster Cake).

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