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Photographer's Note

Shamian island is a rectangular-shaped sandbank in Liwan District, saperated only by a narrow muddy canal on Pearl River in bustling Canton. The island's name literally means "sandy surface" in Chinese measures only about 1km long and 500m wide. Surrounded by water, Shamian is just like a giant ship moored alongside a wharf. This sandbank island has great historical significance from the Song and the Qing Dynasty, Shamian Island served as an important port for Canton foreign trade. It became a strategic point for city defense during the second Opium Wars (1856-1860). In 1859, the territory was divided into two concessions, 1/5 given to France and 4/5 went to the British.

Here the former colonials retreated their own backyards, planting the massive shady trees, building solid large Victorian villas, mansions, banks, tree- lined avenues, embassies, churches and business houses on this compact land. This created a contrasting atmosphere to much of the Chinese city. From the mid 18th to the mid 19th century, Shamian was the only place where foreign merchants were allowed to live in Canton. The Chinese were then excluded from this island leaving the Europeans in self-imposed isolation from the bustle across the canal. It became a European prosperous trading center in Southern China until 1949.

With restricted traffic flow, well-restored grandiose colonial architecture, greenery and tranquility make this place so special, it retains the European 19th century charm till today.

Since the early 2000s, Shamian Island has become well known for many Western couples who reside here, seeking to adopt Chinese babies.

This is a picture of 1915 'Green Building' used to house The Chartered Bank of India, Australia, China(British) and Texas Oil Co(USA) situated at 61 North Shamian Street.

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Additional Photos by abmdsudi abmdsudi (abmdsudi) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 8180 W: 150 N: 18266] (81466)
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