Quanzhou, alternatively known as Chinchew, is a prefecture-level port city on the north bank of the Jin River, beside the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province, People's Republic of China. It is Fujian's largest metropolitan region, with an area of 11,245 square kilometers (4,342 sq mi) and, as of 2010, a population of 8,128,530. Its built-up area is home to 6,107,475 inhabitants, encompassing the Licheng, Fengze, and Luojiang urban districts; Jinjiang, Nan'an, and Shishicities; Hui'an County; and the Quanzhou District for Taiwanese Investment. Quanzhou was China's 12th-largest extended metropolitan area in 2010.
Quanzhou was China's major port for foreign traders, who knew it as Zaiton, during the 11th through 14th centuries. It was visited by both Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta; both travelers praised it as one of the most prosperous and glorious cities in the world. It was the naval base from which the Mongol attacks on Japan and Java were primarily launched and a cosmopolitan center with Buddhist and Hindu temples, Islamic mosques, and Christian churches, including a Catholic cathedral and Franciscan friaries. A failed revolt prompted a massacre of the city's foreign communities in 1357. Economic dislocations—including piracy and an imperial overreaction to it during the Ming and Qing—reduced its prosperity, with Japanese trade shifting to Ningbo and Zhapu and other foreign trade restricted to Guangzhou. Quanzhou became an opium-smugglingcenter in the 19th century but the siltation of its harbor hindered trade by larger ships.
Quanzhou, is one of the most famous historical and cultural cities in China. It is an important seaport located in southeast Fujian Province and is the economic and political center of the province. To its east is Taiwan separated from Quanzhou by the East Sea, making the city the famous mother town of Chinese compatriots in Taiwan and overseas. The climate is warm and humid, comfortable for year-round travel, making it a popular tourist destination.
Due to its special location, Quanzhou has been China's marine door to exotic cultures since ancient times. During the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, Quanzhou port became one of the largest world ports. As the starting point of the Sea Silk Road, it accepted diverse religions including Christianity, Islam and Manichaeism. Today it is called 'World Religions Museum'.
Here exotic cultures have been mixed with traditional ones for thousands of years, leaving many historic sites, such as Qingjing Mosque, the Islamic Saint Mausoleums, Kaiyuan Temple, Heavenly Empress (Tianhou) Palace and other architectural classics such as Luoyang Bridge, Anping Bridge and Chongwu Ancient Town. Zheng Chenggong (1624-1662), the national hero who helped the government regain Taiwan from Holland in the 17th century, was also born here. His mausoleum in Nan'an city has become a precious historical site in this city.