About The Council Leadership Brief History Citizen Services Location Introduction to Matsu

to Matsu



The Matsu Islands are located in the northwest of Taiwan, opposite the mouth of the Min River, Huang-Qi peninsula and Luo-Yuan Bay of mainland China. The islands are spread between 26"23'˚N (North bay of DongYin) and 25"56' ˚N(South bay of Lin-Ao) from north to south, and between 119"51' ˚E(JinSha, Nangan) and 120"30' ˚E(ShihWei Mt. DongYi), from west to east; 114 nautical miles from Keelung, 152 miles from Quemoy and 33 miles from MaWei harbour of FuZhou.The total land area is 29.60 square kilometers. The coastal line adds up to 133 km among all islands.

The county administration, seated in JieShou village of Nangan island, is named Lien-Chiang, sharing the same name as the county in coastal Fu-Jian. There are 4 townships under the county administration: Nangan, Beigan , Dongyin, and Dongju, under which there are 22 villages.

Matsu is located at the northwest of Taiwan

II. Geology

Most of Matsu consists of coned granite islands. The land is hilly and the slopes are steep. The highest mountain is Bi Mountain in Beigan at 294 meters above sea level. The highest mountain on Nangan is Yun-Tai Mountain at 248 meters. Both of them are now listed by the government among Taiwan's Minor 100 Mountains.

The landscape around Matsu is dominated by hills, valleys and bays. As a result of millions of years of water and wind erosion, coastal area granite has formed a wide variety of terrain and scenery: precipitous cliff faces, ocean erosion ditches, distinctly tiered joints, arches, bridges, columns, caves, and various other formations created by the pounding tidal waves. These are all common scenes around Matsu. Continuous alluviation and accumulation have made the bay areas rich with sand, gravel or pebbles. DongYin, unfortunately, is the only township without a beach.


III.Biology and Ecology

The Matsu islands, situated along the southeastern coast of China, are thus endowed with both island and continental characteristics, which have nurtured many unique species. Although little of the hilly islands can be farmed, they are surrounded by rich fishing resources.
Due to its geographical proximity, there are many species from China, Taiwan and Japan around Matsu. The isolation of the islets has contributed to many distinctive species here. Matsu islands have been an important habitat for migratory birds, ranging from 15 to 30 species at all times. Most of the migratory birds are terns, some of which are endangered species. Protected species that can be observed in Matsu are Bridled Terns (Sterna anaethetus), Black-naped Terns (Sterna sumatrana), Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii ), Chinese Crested Terns (Sterna bernsteini ), Japanese Guls (Larus crassirostris), Pacific Reef Egrets (Egretta sacra.), and White-rumped Swifts( Apus pacificus).

There are many plants which are rarely seen in Taiwan, such as callery pears (Pyrus calleryana Decne), Rosa Bracteata Wendl, Dryopteris Championii, white rabbit's foot ferns (Humata tyermanni) and East Asian autumn ferns (Dryopteris fuscipes). These plants can be easily seen on all the islands. The special species and sub-species unique to the area are the Matsu Lycoris, the Matsu Purple Sandalwood, and the Matsu Wild Lily. These Matsu-named species exemplify the distinctiveness as well as diversity of the natural environment of the area, and they should be carefully preserved and appreciated.


IV. Climate

Matsu has a subtropical maritime climate, influenced by the monsoon, ocean currents and its geographic location. Unlike Taiwan, the four seasons are quite distinctive here: winter is cold and wet, spring and summer are foggy, and the weather is generally stable in autumn. While Matsu's latitude is merely one degree north of Taiwan, however, due to its proximity to the continental climate the temperature is lower than that of Taipei, at an annual average of 18.6° C (65.48° F), with a great contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures. The air temperature is coldest from December to February, with the average temperature of February being around 10° C (50° F), climbing gradually from March till it hits the highest mark in July and August, averaging approximately 29° (84.2° F).

A northeastern wind blows fiercely from October to March as a result of the pressure of cold air aggregating over the continent. From March to May, the south wind carries much moisture from the Taiwan Strait, and thick fog as much as 800 meters in radius can easily form when the wind comes in contact with the colder surface. Sunshine can only disperse a part at most of such thick fog. The fog thus hampers visibility on cloudy days and consequently causes many canceled flights.

In April and May the seasonal monsoon brings much rainfall. Typhoons mostly visit during July and August. Average annual precipitation is 1060mm-- less than half of the yearly average in Taiwan. Thus, rainy days of the year are mostly in April till August, which is more concentrated than in Taiwan.


V. History and Customs

Matsu first developed in the Yuan dynasty, when fishermen from the mainland took refuge in the islets of the region. Approximately between the Ming and Qing dynasties, the area was occupied by Japanese pirates. It was not until the early Qing period that fishermen from Fuzhou began to settle here, forming villages based on geographic and blood ties. Nowadays, the Chens, Lins, Tsaos, Wangs and Lius are the largest families of Matsu. Nangan island is the largest island of the complex by size and population. It is also the economic center and the seat of the county government.

Most of the customs in Matsu have been inherited from the eastern Fujian area (Min Dong). The local tongue is FuZhou dialect with Changlo accent, which the locals called PingHua or MatsuHua. Because of the windy and hilly environment, most of the buildings are square single houses built of granite along the hill slope with stone framed windows on high. Some are built with curved ridges as flame-shaped raised gables ("fong huo shan chiang" ). Roof plating tiles are overlaid with stones to protect from the strong sea gale. Some of the houses are notably influenced by European style buildings seen in Southeastern Asia, which are called Yang-Lo or Huan-a Da (both phrases can be literally translated as "foreign houses").

After the Communist revolution in 1949, Matsu had undergone tight administration of martial law as the military took charge of everything and almost all places became restricted areas. The military establishments are everywhere: hidden tunnels, training grounds, field hospitals, guard posts and gun muzzles. The military has opened a variety of them to tourists ever since the abolishment of Battle Field Administration on Nov.7th 1992. These man-made underground wonders are testaments to this one-time battle front.

Related Link: Matsu National Scenic Area