Located on the southeast coast of China, opposite Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait, the island port city of Xiamen, China, is one of the first four original "special economic zones" of China. As such, it benefits from more market-oriented policies and less bureaucratic oversight than the rest of the country. The Chinese word Xiamen means "door to house," referring to the city's ages-old function as a gateway to the rest of the country.

Xiamen is connected to the rest of China by a number of bridges and an underwater tunnel. It is a pleasant city, well laid-out and, in many ways, it is reminiscent of Singapore. In fact, motorcycles are banned, so traffic, although heavy, moves swiftly, and there's less noise.

Xiamen enjoys a subtropical, maritime climate. With the wealth of trees, shrubbery and gardens, island coastline and a variety of attractions, it is a popular holiday destination for many visitors from around China and, increasingly, from overseas.

Because of the many egrets found on the island, Xiamen is often called Egret Island.

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