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Hainan Cities

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Haikou, situated at the north of Hainan Island, is the capital of Hainan Province of China and has an estimated population of 830,192 (2006), therefore by far the largest city on the island. Some people also call it "Meilan", as its airport area and name are Meilan District. Volcano Crater Park, Wugong Temple, Tomb of Hairui are well-known tourist site in Haikou. Dongjiao Coconut Forest (Dongjiao Yelin), Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling are in Wenchang. 

Haikou originally served as the port for Qiongshan, the ancient administrative capital of Hainan Island, located 5 km inland.haikou was a part of Guangdong Province. In the 13th century it was fortified and became a military post under the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644). The port is located west of the mouth of the Nandu, Hainan's principal river. When Qiongshan was opened to foreign trade under the Treaty of Tianjin (1858), Haikou started to rival the old administrative city. In 1926, Haikou overtook Qiongshan in population in the 1930s after it was declared a separate administrative county. Haikou was developed as a port during the Sino-Japanese War (1937 - 45) when the Japanese invaded and occupied Hainan Island from early 1939 to 1945.

Since 1949, Haikou has maintained its position as Hainan's main port, handling more than half of the island's total trade. It has replaced Qiongshan as the island's administrative capital. In 1988, Haikou was made a prefecture-level city as well as the capital of the newly-created Hainan Province.

The Old Haikou (the oldest buildings in the area) were mostly built by the rich Chinese from the mainland and some overseas Chinese who returned to their homeland. The houses are mixture of Portuguese, French and Southeast Asian style. These streets used to be divided into areas for selling Chinese and western medicine, a street for silk and tailor-make clothes, one for the fresh fish and meat, another for incense, candles, paper, ink, etc.

Various projects are currently under discussions to decide the best way to restore and preserve these historical buildings.

Haikou has an area of 2,304.84 square kilometers. It is situated on the north coast of Hainan Island, facing the Leizhou Peninsula, across the Hainan Strait (15 km wide); in an area that reaches from Zengmu Ansha in the south to the Qiongzhou Strait in the north; bordering the sea areas of the South China Sea and facing Vietnam in the west across Beibu Bay. Part of Haikou city, the district of Haidian Island, is separated from the main part of Haikou by the Nandu river. It is the northernmost part of Haikou, and is accessed by one of three bridges, the largest being Haikou Century Bridge which connects Guomao district with Haidian island at the west mouth of the Nandu river.

The city of Haikou is on the northern edge of the torrid zone, and is part of the monsoon tropical zone. April to October is the active period for tropical storms and typhoons; most occur between August and September. May to October is the rainy season with most rainfall coming in September.

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