Quanzhou, a prefecture-level city in southeastern Fujian Province, lies on the coast in a south-southwesterly direction from Fuzhou, the province's capital and the place where the province's largest - and longest (577 kilometers) - river, the Min Jiang, empties into the East Sea. In terms of measureable distance, Quanzhou lies about 120 kilometers in a straight line from Fuzhou. Quanzhou the ancient prefecture is also known as Min Nan ("Southern" Min of the Minyue, one of the many tribes of the "Hundred Yue" peoples who resided on the southern fringes of pre-Han (BCE 206 – CE 220) Dynasty China). Min Nan is another name for the former Kingdom of Min (CE 909-945), established in the region of present-day Fujian Province after the fall of the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty. Not unlike nearby Fuzhou, Quanzhou also has a remarkable past – indeed, when one takes note of the city's history of religious tolerance, even a glorious past.
Thanks to its rich cultural and historical past, the city of Quanzhou abounds in noteworthy sites of interest to the tourist, both the foreign as well as the domestic tourist, and thanks to its unique physical setting, Quanzhou is also rich in natural scenic sites. Of the former sites, Kaiyuan Temple, Chengtian Temple, Qingshui Yan Temple, the East and West Pagodas, Qingjing Mosque (which also houses He Zuo's Tomb), the Ruins of Quanzhou Manichaean Church, Tianhou Palace, Number One Scholar Stree, Chongwu Ancient Town, Zhangjiao Village, the Mausoleum of Zheng Chenggong (1624-1662, aka Koxinga, the national hero and native Quanzhouer (he was born in nearby in Nan'an city) who helped reclaim Taiwan from Holland during the 17th century), the Ancient Stone Saint statue, Five-Mile Bridge, Anping Bridge, Luoyang Bridge and the Quanzhou Maritime History Museum rank highest, while some of the most noteworthy natural scenic sites include Mount Qingyuan, Mount Zimao, Mount Xian gong, Mount Lingxiu and Mount Penglai, where Qingshui Yan Temple is located. In addition, there are recreational parks that border the sea and comprise rolling hills, such as Qingshui Rock Scenic Area.
But perhaps most of all, Quanzhou is renowned for its many sons and daughters who, down through the ages, have travelled to other cities in China, or abroad, and have made a name for themselves in their new homes-away-from-home. Many of them chose to keep alive the connections to their natal city, and these cultural ties between Quanzhou and other cities, both foreign and domestic, have strengthened Quanzhou in countless ways. Quanzhou is also the birthplace of large numbers of currently living Chinese citizens who have emigrated to other parts of China in pursuit of even greater goals, having profited from the city of Quanzhou as a springboard to success. For example, many distinguished sons and daughters of Quanzhou who have excelled in the fields of art, economics, science and technology have moved on to greater challenges elsewhere.
Accordingly, there are over 6 million Quanzhou expats living in Hong Kong and some 800 thousand Quanzhou expats living in Maccao, as well as sizable numbers of Quanzhou expats living in Taiwan. Many of the sons and daughters of Quanzhou continue to make direct contributions in one form or another to their natal city, while others "do Quanzhou proud" either by their example alone, or by actively promoting intercommunal dialogue in their new, adopted cities. Quanzhou is itself a home-away-from-home to a thriving community of international expats – from artists to entrepreneurs – as the city is famous for its limitless entrepreneurial opportunities.
According to the latest published census data, the prefecture of Quanzhou – which comprises, besides the city of Quanzhou itself, 3 smaller cities, 3 rural counties and 4 districts – has a total population of roughly 7 million, predominantly of Han ethnic origin, of which total population some 300 thousand live in urban areas. The universal languages are the Mandarin and Minnan dialects, of which the latter is more common among local citizens, especially those living in rural areas.
Quanzhou is one of 24 international cities of worldwide historical and cultural importance, as recognized by the U.S. State Department. Quanzhou has earned its place in this esteemed company due to its many cultural relics and historical sites. The state government of China has also recognized Quanzhou's significance to the country's historical and cultural development by offering state protection to 12 scenic sites in the city, while the provincial government has offered protection to an additional 37 of the city's preservation-worthy sites. As earlier indicated, Quanzhou is internationally recognized as "the Orient's preeminent major harbor of ancient times", after it replaced Guangzhou in that role, though it forfeited that role after the Chinese government was forced to restrict merchant priviliges in the city following the decade long Persian militia revolt beginning in CE 1357.
The city of Quanzhou is renowned for its Gaojia Opera and Liyuan Opera as well as its Min Nan music tradition. Both the opera and the music of Quanzhou hark back to the ancient dialects of the Tang Dynasty period. Quanzhou is also known for its Tieguanyin Tea and Dehua Porcelain as well as its Huian Stone Carvings that are much sought after for their superb style and quality of workmanship.
With its mild, coastal, South China Sea climate and its multitude of cultural and historical scenic sites as well as its priceless physical setting, wedged between mountains and the sea, Quanzhou is a paradise for the active tourist.