China’s Offshore are many small islands, some inhabited by fishermen, some surrounded by coral formations, and nearly all lying in clear, blue waters. The coastline itself is predominantly low-lying beach rather than cliff. The east coast has been built on and developed to a certain extent, while the west remains largely unspoiled. Which¬ever side of the island one follows, how¬ever, there will rarely be much more than a 20km gap between accessible and usually deserted stretches of sand.
The tropical forest harbours such spe¬cies as Seka deer, egret, gibbon and wild monkey. The island’s minority tribes are a major attraction. Tongzha, a small township in the southern half of the island, has been designated a cultural cen¬tre. However, in the surrounding area and many other less frequented parts of the island’s interior, one can still find the na¬tives living lives unchanged by industrial revolutions and great Leaps Forward.
Of the seven million population, about one million are indigenous Miao or Li minority tribespeople, easily distinguishable by their brightly-coloured tradi¬tional Costumes. These tribes are mainly con¬centrated in the hills while the main towns — Haikou in the north and Sanv a in the South have been colonized by mainland Chinese.
The island’s climate is about as tropical as it gets in Asia. with swel¬tering heat, humidity and typhoons from May to October. In late autumn and winter the temp¬erature drops to a more comfortable 21- 25 degrees C. and the skies clear to a deep, perfect blue.
Although some parts of the west coast are being modestly modernized, most de¬velopment has focused on the tourism in¬dustry-. However, the majority of visitors are made Lip of tour groups from main¬land China (or golfers from Japan and South Korea) and the established attractions for them, such as the cultural shows and dance halls of Sanya, have left some of the most beautiful parts of the surround¬ing area largely unaffected.
Some early development was chaotic or downright ugly, but in certain places the developers have got it remarkably right. For example, at Yalong Bay, east of Sanya, one company owns the entire 8km bay and has carefully planned its five hotels to preserve the natural beauty of the site as much as possible. And other spots have so far completely escaped the developers’ attention.
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