China’s ‘piano island’ hits all the right notes for UNESCO

Over the last few days of the BRICS summit, all eyes have been on the Chinese city of Xiamen, where leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have been putting their heads together on pressing economic and political issues.


But Xiamen isn’t all business … it’s also a pretty popular holiday spot, with some of the best beaches in China. And while you’re catching some rays, you might catch a tune too – because just across the bay from Xiamen is the island of Gulangyu, also known as China’s ‘piano island’.


How did it get this nickname, I hear you ask? Well, believe it or not, this tiny island has one of the highest rates of piano ownership in China: there are around 600 of them on the island, which has only 15,000 residents and covers an area of about 2 square km.


The island also boasts China’s first piano museum, with the world’s largest collection of pianos. Not only that, it’s also the hometown of some of the country’s big names in music, including violinist Jing Yang and pianist Ying Chengzong. 


Gulangyu has recently been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for its historical and cultural significance, making it China’s fifty-second world heritage site.


A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area that has been awarded official recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). UNESCO chooses sites based on their cultural, historical, scientific or other significance, which are then legally protected by international treaties.

Catherine Jessup

A languages nerd with a food obsession and lifelong music bug, CJ can often be found panning the internet for golden Chinese indie tunes and toting around culinary experiments in a fancy lunchbox. Host and producer of East Meets West and Reporter for and Find them on Twitter @cjessup_gbtimes

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