Abbreviation(s): Matsu (馬祖)
|County seat||Nangan Township|
|County Magistrate||Chen Hsueh-sheng (陳雪生)|
|- Total||29.6055 km²
(25 of 25)
|- % water||n/a %|
|- Total||9,755 (December 2008)
(25 of 25)
|- County flower||Hairy Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)|
|- County tree||none|
|- County bird||Chinese Crested Tern (Sterna bernsteini)|
The Matsu Islands (also Mazu Islands) (traditional Chinese: 馬祖列島 or less frequently, 馬祖群島 p=Mǎzǔ Lièdǎo or Mǎzǔ Qúndǎo) are a minor archipelago of 19 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait administered as Lienchiang County (or Lianjiang) (連江 Pinyin: Liánjiāng), Fujian Province of the Republic of China (ROC). Not all of what is historically part of Lienchiang county is under the control of the ROC. The People's Republic of China controls the part of the county adjoining the mainland and has a separate administration for that jurisdiction, Lianjiang County, which claims the entire archipelago to be its Mazu Township (媽祖鄉).
The phrase "Quemoy and Matsu" became part of U.S. political language in the 1960 U.S. presidential election. During the debates, both candidates, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, pledged to use U.S. forces if necessary to protect the Republic of China from invasion by the People's Republic of China, the mainland, which the U.S. did not at that time recognize as a legitimate government. Vice President Nixon charged that Senator Kennedy would not use U.S. forces to protect the ROC's forward positions, Quemoy and Matsu.
In April 2003, the county government started considering changing the name to Matsu County to avoid confusion with the county of the same name on the mainland. This is the first example of a local government officially wishing to change its name. Some locals opposed the name change because they felt it reflected a Democratic Progressive Party Taiwan Independence viewpoint.
Lienchiang County (of the Republic of China) is currently divided into four townships:
Altogether, there are 22 Lienchiang villages, which are further divided into 137 neighborhoods (鄰 lín).
All townships, except Juguang, are named after the largest island in its jurisdictional area, but most townships also include other islets.
The Matsu Islands include five major islands: Nangan, Dongju and Xiju (both in Juguang Township), Beigan, and Dongyin. Minor islands include Liang (亮島), Gaodeng (高登), Daqiu (大坵), and Xiaoqiu (小坵) -- all belong to the Beigan Township.
Another set of coordinates: 119°51'-120°31' E, 25°55'-26°44' N.
Dongyin is the northernmost and Dongjyu is the southernmost.
Average annual temperature is 8.9°C, with the lowest point being 1.3°.
The total number of islands and islets is 19. 
Several islands are not inhabited permanently, some of which are stationed by Republic of China soldiers.
Matsu islands are famous for its historical sites and beautiful sceneries. Due to its size, traveling by motorized scooter is an ideal way to get around the main islands such as Nangan and Beigan.
Both Nangan and Beigan have airports, but because the main airport is located in Nangan, travel between the islands is frequently done by boat. In fact, boats are the main form of transportation between the Matsu islands.
Nangan is the capital of Matsu and is famous for its mesmerizing granite tunnel as well as the Iron Fort. The island is accessible by motorized scooters. It has two interconnected main roads. Each road leads to different sites but because they are connected, it doesn’t take long to visit all of the sites on the island.
The Bei-Hei tunnels are manmade granite tunnels that marvel visitors. One is located in Beikan while the other is located in Nangan. Both tunnels were amazing for their time, and took great effort to construct. The tunnel in Nangan was built in 1968. The completion of Bei-Hei tunnel took the effort of thousands of men. The 700 meter tunnel has a width of 10 meters and a height of 16 meters. It was completed in 820 days with shovels, spades and explosives; the tunnel also took the life of a platoon of soldiers. The tunnel was considered a military location and was not opened until 1990. The tunnel’s structure and precision still amazes visitors today and is a must see in Matsu.
The Iron Fort is located on the Southwest side of Nangan island. Located by a small cliff, it is a vulnerable spot for outside attacks or illegal smuggling of materials. With that in mind, the fort was build for defence. It is equipped with multiple machinegun rooms and rudimentary living facilities. It is now open to the public, and although the equipment has been removed from the site, the site itself brings back a vivid image of what it was like for soldiers at that time.
Chin Be is located in Beigan, it was renowned for its style of architecture and history. Much of the buildings were built from the late 1800s to early 1900s. However the village, once occupied by over one hundred households, was abandoned by the fisherman due to living conditions; the village was reduced to less than 20 households. Luckily by the 1960s, the village was restored by the local government. Chin Be is situated beside a beach, overlooking China. It is ideal for an early morning or late evening stroll.
Other famous sites include the 88 Tunnel distillery, Matsu temple, Fu-Au seaport, and many different kinds of monuments.
Since 1990, the county controls the Matsu Islands Bird Sanctuary (馬祖列島燕鷗保護區), which spreads across eight islands and islets in Nangan, Beigan and Tongyin Townships. It contains 30 species in 15 orders, mostly gulls and terns. In 2000, four pairs of the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern, previously thought to be extinct, were discovered nesting on the Matsu Islands, giving them global conservation importance.
Matsu, though named after the goddess Matsu, is written with a different character that has a different tone. But the Matsu Islands are not the birthplace of the goddess as the human Lin Muoniang -- Meizhou Island is—but her death place (on a seaport named after her on Nangan Island).
The Matsu Nangan Heavenly Empress Palace (馬祖南竿天后宮), a temple dedicated to the goddess, contains the sarcophagus of Lin Muoniang. It is, however, not as popular as the Meizhou temple.
Most Taiwanese pilgrims to Meizhou start off their journey in the Matsu Islands because they are the closest Taiwan-controlled base to Meizhou, which is controlled by the PRC.
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|Territorial disputes in East, South, and Southeast Asia|
|Type||Territory||Currently Administered by||Claimants|
|Baekdu Mountain||2 2|
|Heixiazi/Bolshoy Ussuriysky (Eastern part)2||2|
|Kachin State||1 2|
|Korean Peninsula and its adjacent islands3|
|North Borneo (Sabah)2|
|Sixty-Four Villages East of the River2||2|
|South Tibet/Arunachal Pradesh||2|
|Tannu Uriankhai (now Tuva Republic of Russia)2||2|
|Islands and Waters:||Kinmen|
|Socotra Rock||2 2|
|Southern Kuril Islands|
|Taiwan and Penghu2|
3Divided among multiple claimants.