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Hainan: a tropical island in southern China

The island of Hainan, an autonomous province of the People’s Republic of China, is the largest island in China with a territorial extension similar to that of Belgium (32,900 sq km). Located at the southeastern end of the country. The island is washed by the South China Sea, and is full of white beaches and lush vegetation. Its interior is characterized by a harsh region with some mountains in the central southern part. Its highest peak Mount Wuzhi reaches 1,840 meters high and is covered by an impenetrable jungle.

Hainan is inhabited by just over eight million inhabitants who mainly live on agriculture. Rice paddies characterize the landscape of the flat regions of Hainan. Here, thanks to nature and the tropical climate, three harvests of rice are made per year. Tropical fruit – mainly coconut and strawberries – and vegetables are also grown there. The island also forms the largest special economy zone in China today. Fishing is also an important activity for the inhabitants of Hainan.

The southern coast of the island has been considered for centuries by the Chinese as the border of heaven and the end of the world. In past centuries on this island, Chinese rulers used to send those who had fallen out of favor in their eyes into exile. The island was annexed to the Chinese empire only in the fourteenth century.


Hainan thanks to its immaculate beaches and its tropical nature is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourism. The island is easily accessible from mainland China and numerous Asian countries via the two international airports of Sanya and Haikou. It also has excellent tourist infrastructure with luxury hotels, golf courses, beautiful beaches and the possibility of practicing water sports. The island is also opening up to tourism from other areas of the world as well as from China. For the middle class Chinese, holidays in Hainan have become synonymous with wealth and well-being.

Other interesting aspects of the island are its unspoiled nature, clean air and the life and traditions of its population. The tourist potential of the island is therefore enormous and tourism is a growing activity. On the island there are some interesting historical sites including the Temples of the five Lords (or Officers) – built in the nineteenth century and dedicated to five officers from the medieval Tang and Song dynasties who were exiled here -, the tomb of Hai Rui – officer of the Ming dynasty – dating back to the 16th century, and the Xiuying Barbette fort of the late 19th century.

Hainan’s tourist attractions also include forests, hot springs and beaches. Most of the beaches on the island are public. Among the most known and popular centers of the island is the coastal town of Sanya which is located along the southern coast. A short distance from Sanya is the Yalong Bay beach, the most exclusive beach on the island.


The climate of the island varies between the sub-tropical climate of the northern part and the tropical monsoon climate of the rest of the island. The hottest months are those of July and August, which have average daily temperatures ranging between 25 and 29 degrees centigrade. While the coldest are those of January and February, with temperatures varying between 16 and 21 degrees centigrade.

Average annual rainfall varies between 2,400 mm in the central and eastern areas and 900 mm in the south-western coast. The rains fall mainly during the summer months between May and October, in this period tropical cyclones can hit the island. In January and February the island is mainly characterized by the constant presence of fog – especially along the coast – which remains constantly present both day and night.


HAIKOU (3 meters)
MonthAverage low (°C) Average high (°C) Precip. (mm)Precip. days
February 16,422,33510,6
August 25,332,323514,9
September 24,630,724414,3

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