Covering a total area of 1.78 square kilometers, Gulangyu Island is located just southwest of Xiamen City. The Chinese name also has musical roots, as gu lang means "drum waves," so-called because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. Yu means "islet."
Visitors can reach it by steamship from Xiamen City in about 5 minutes. Gulangyu Island is renowned for its delicate natural beauty, its ancient relics, and its varied architecture. The island is on China's list of National Scenic Spots and also ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in Fujian Province.
The island became a foreign enclave following the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, hence the predominantly Victorian-era style architecture throughout the island, of which many were offices and residences of Consulate-Generals, as well as that of the thriving expatriate business community. The Fujian dialect Min Nan is spoken on the island.
The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and passenger transport vehicles. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, gives the island a unique appearance.