Xiamen (厦门; Xiàmén) is a coastal city in Fujian Province in China. It has been an important port for centuries and became one of China's earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. The name Xiamen means "door to the house", referring to the city's centuries-old role as a gateway to China.
Most of the city is on Xiamen island. The mainland areas Jimei and Haicang, just across bridges, and the smaller island Gulangyu are administratively parts of the same city, but geographically distinct. Until 1840, Western countries were allowed to trade only in Guangzhou (which they called Canton), and only under strict controls. After China lost the First Opium War, Britain took Hong Kong and China opened five Treaty Ports: Guangzhou, Xiamen (then known as Amoy), Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai. In Xiamen, the island Gulangyu became a foreign enclave with consulates and luxurious homes. Today it is a quiet area (no motorcycles) and five minutes by ferry from downtown, and still quite scenic. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fujian was a focus of missionary activity. There are still many historic churches in the region. In the 1970s, Xiamen was one of the first cities to become a Special Economic Zone to encourage development and open mainland China to the outside world; since then it has flourished. Technically, only Xiamen Island and Gulang Yu are in the SEZ, but the whole region is flourishing. Xiamen has more Taiwan investment than any other mainland city, partly because Taiwanese is a dialect of Minnan (Southern Min), the local language of southern Fujian. There is also a major influx of other foreign investment; among the foreign companies with large factories in Xiamen are Lifetime Products, Dell and Kodak.