1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chusan

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CHUSAN, the principal island of a group situated off the eastern coast of China, in 30° N. 122° E., belonging to the province of Cheh-kiang. It lies N.W. and S.E., and has a circumference of 51 m., the extreme length being 20, the extreme breadth 10, and the minimum breadth 6 m. The island is beautifully diversified with hill and dale, and well watered with numerous small streams, of which the most considerable is the Tungkiang, falling into the harbour of Tinghai. Most of the surface is capable of cultivation, and nineteen-twentieths of the inhabitants are engaged in agriculture. Wherever it is possible to rear rice every other product is neglected; yet the quantity produced is not sufficient for the wants of the inhabitants. Millet, wheat, sweet potatoes, yams and tares are also grown. The tea plant is found almost everywhere, and the cotton plant is largely cultivated near the sea. The capital, Tinghai, stands about half a mile from the southern shore, and is surrounded by a wall nearly 3 m. in circuit. The ditch outside the wall is interrupted on the N.W. side by a spur from a neighbouring hill, which projects into the town, and forms an easy access to an attacking force. The town is traversed by canals, and the harbour, which has from 4 to 8 fathoms water, is landlocked by several islands. Temple (or Joss-house) Hill, which commands the town and harbour close to the beach, is 122 ft. high. The population of the entire island is estimated at 250,000, of which the capital contains about 40,000. Chusan has but few manufactures; the chief are coarse cotton stuffs and agricultural implements. There are salt works on the coast; and the fisheries employ a number of the inhabitants. In Tinghai a considerable business is carried on in carving and varnishing, and its silver wares are in high repute. The principal exports are fish, coarse black tea, cotton, vegetable tallow, sweet potatoes, and some wheat. Chusan was occupied by the Japanese during the Ming dynasty, and served as an important commercial entrepot. It was taken by the British forces in 1840 and 1841, and retained till 1846 as a guarantee for the fulfilment of the stipulations of the treaty. It was also occupied by the British in 1860.