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Keelung History, Taiwan

Lying just within reach of Taipei, Keelung is the second largest port city situated in the northern region of the province of Taipei, Republic of China. The city is also known as Rainy Port as the area always experiences rain. Bounded by mountains in the east, west and south and facing the ocean in the north, Keelung is left isolated from its neighboring cities and counties making the area an ideal harbor since early times. For a trace of Keelung History, here are some facts to help you.

Keelung History – The First Settlers

The first inhabitants of Keelung were from a Taiwanese aboriginal tribe called the Ketagalan. The area they settled in was then called Jilong, meaning rooster cage in Chinese. In the 16th century, Japanese pirates made Keelung their base.

In the early 17th century, Keelung natives first made contact with the Europeans. In 1626, Spanish expeditionary forces left Luzon and established a fort in Palm Island (now known as Hoping Island) which they named “La Santissima Trinidad” or “San Salvadore.” Keelung remained under Spain until 1642 until the Dutch finally forced the Spaniards to surrender. Consequently, the Dutch changed the name of the fort from San Salvadore to Noort Hollant.

Keelung History - During the Ming and Qing Dynasty

Cheng Ching, son of the famous Ming supporter Cheng Cheng-kung, led troops that successfully defeated the Dutch in 1668. This event in Keelung History made foreigners move completely out of Taiwan.

By mid-Qing Dynasty, Keelung began enjoying rapid progress mainly because of the discovery of rich resources of placer gold and high-quality coal in the drainage area of Keelung River. As a result, Keelung was opened up as a trading post in 1863. Owing to these valuable new found treasures, the old name “Jilong” was changed into Keelung denoting “rich and prosperous land” in 1875.

The French’s controversial military attack (Keelung Campaign) in northern Taiwan during the Sino-French War has made them obtain control of Keelung. From October 1884 to April 1885, the French and Qing forces fought a series of battles for the control of Keelung, which eventually concluded in a stalemate.

Keelung History - During the Japanese Occupation

At the start of the Japanese era in 1895, a systematic five-phase construction of Keelung Harbor commenced. This proved fruitful as the trade volume of Keelung harbor surpassed that of Danshuei and Kaohsiung, making Keelung one of the major commercial ports in Taiwan. From a town, Keelung was promoted to a city in 1924. When World War II broke out, the impressive Keelung was among the targets of the American bombers and was left almost in ruins by the end of the war.

Keelung History - From 1945 to Present

After Taiwan was turned over to China in 1945, the city and the harbor where rebuilt. Its importance in the economy was starkly shown when Keelung became the 7th largest container port in the world in 1984. Alongside this, mining peaked as well.

Keelung is one of the most prosperous cities in Taiwan as of today. If you want more traces about Asian History, feel free to navigate the pages presenting Taipei History and Taichung History.

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