Xiamen was a thriving port by the 17th century, and became one of China's earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. Since then it has flourished, attracting a major influx of foreign investment. Clean and tastefully renovated, it consistently shows up on the list of China’s most livable cities. Xiamen was one of the five Treaty Ports ceded to European powers after the first Opium War, and its tiny island of Gulangyu became a foreign enclave. Today it is a place of lush tropical gardens, a rich musical and cultural heritage, and hundreds of aging but elegant early 20th century mansions.
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