1902 Encyclopedia > China > Chinese Provinces (9) - Fu-keen [Fujian], including Island of Formosa [Taiwan]

(Part 15)


Province 9: Fu-keen [Fujian], including Island of Formosa [Taiwan]

The province of
Fuh-keen, or, as it used to be called, Min, is bounded on the N. by the province of Che-keang, on the S. by that of Kwang-tung, on the W. by that of Keang-se, and on the E. by the sea. It occupies an area of 53,480 square miles, and its population is estimated at 14,777,410. The provincial capital is Fuh-chow Foo, and it is divided into eleven prefectures, besides that ruled over by the prefect of the capital city. Fuh-keen is generally mountainous, being overspread by the Nan-shan ranges, which run a general course of N.E. and S.W. The principal river is the Min, which is formed by the junction, in the neighbourhood of the city of Yen-ping Foo, of three rivers,—namely, the Keen-ke, which takes its rise in the mountains on the western frontier in the prefecture of Keen-ning Foo, the Fuh-tun Ke, the source of which is found in the district of Kwang-tsih in the north-west of the province, and the Shaou Ke, which rises in the mountains in the western district of Ning-kwa. From Yen-ping Foo the river takes a somewhat south-easterly course, and after passing along the south face of the city of Fuh-chow Foo, empties itself into the sea about 30 miles below that town. Its upper course is narrow and rocky and abounds in rapids, but as it approaches Fuh-chow Foo the channel widens, and the current becomes slow and even. Its depth is very irregular, and it is navigable only by native boats of a small class. Two other rivers flows into the sea near the island of Amoy, neither of which, however, is navigable for any distance from their mouths owing to the shallows and rapids with which they abound. The soil of the province is, as its name , "Happy Establishment," indicates, very productive, and the scenery is of a rich and varied character. Most of the hills are covered with vendure, and the less rugged are laid out in terraces. The principal products of the province are tea, of which the best kind is that known as Bohea, which takes its name, by a mispronunciation, from the Woo-e Mountains, in the prefecture of Keening Foo, where it is grown; grains of various kinds, oranges, plantains, lichis, bamboo, ginger, gold, silver, lead, tin, iron, salt (both marine and rock), deer’s horns, beeswax, sugar, fish, birds’ nests, medicine, paper, cloth, timber, &c. Fuh-keen boasts of two Treaty Ports, Fuh-chow Foo in that yaer amounted to £1,332,387, 11s. 8d., and that that of goods similarly exported amounted to £4,397,320, 19s. 4d. The chief articles of export from Amoy are tea, sugar, and sugar candy; of tea £1,129,090 worth was exported during the year 1874.

Island of Formosa, or Taiwan, "the Great Bay." As the Chinese call it, forms part of the province of Fuh-keen. Situated at a distance of about 80 or 90 miles from the mainland, its highest mountains can be easily recognized from the coast near Amoy. And so when Chinese historians assert that its existence first became known to their ancestors in the year 1480, they probably mean that at that date emigrants from the mainland first gained a footing in the island. At all events, when that Japanese two centuries later attempted to establish a colony in the island, they found there a Chinese population sufficiently numerous to be formidable. The island stretches from lat. 21° 53´ 30" to lat. 25° 33´. In shape it is long and narrow. Its greatest width is about 70 miles, and it tapers off to a fine point at its southern extremity. A backbone of mountains runs from north to south through almost its entire length, leaving a plain on the western and northern portions. These level districts are occupied by Chinese settlers, while the mountains and their eastern slopes to the sea are inhabited by native tribes. The fertility of the plains has gained for Formosa the name of the Granary of China. On every available piece of land fields of rice and sugar are carefully cultivated, and recompense the farmer by yielding him constant and abundant crops. These alone, in addition to such products as jute, grass cloth, fibre, rice paper, and rattan, would make the island a valuable possession; but far more precious are the sulphur and the camphor, which are obtained from the mines and from the mountains of the island, and which are claimed by the Government as Crown monopolies. When taken from the mine the sulphur is boiled in iron boilers until the slate-like mineral assumes a treacle-like consistency. This is constantly stirred until every impurity is separated from the sulphur, which is then ladled our into wooden tubs shaped like sugar-loaves. In these ladled out into wooden tubs shaped like sugar-loaves. In these it is left to cool, and the conical cake is freed from the tub by the simple process of knocking out the bottom of the latter. As the gigantic laurels from which the camphor is obtained are found only in the mountains in the possession of the natives, the acquisition of a constant supply is somewhat difficult. In 1874, however, 14,380 1/2 cwts. Of this commodity were exported from the ports of Tam-suy and Kelung. Petroleum also adds to the riches of the island. The Treaty Ports in Formosa are Tai-wan Foo (including Ta-kow) on the south-west coast, and Tam-suy (including Kelung) on the north-west and north coast. The foreign trade returns for Tai-wan Foo for 1874 show that goods to the value of £1,840,016 was the value of the exports during the Same period. The Tam-suy returns present much smaller totals; £304,243 represents thevalue of the imports, and £203,426 that of the exports in 1874.

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