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Matsu Islands

Taiwan stations a total of about 18,000 troops on the offshore island of Matsu. Situated outside the mouth of the Min River, the Matsu Islands form the northern anchor of the offshore defense line commanding the Min River. The main island of the complex is Nankan, more commonly known as Matsu, from the name of the major port of the island. It is 114 nautical miles northwest of Keelung, the port city on the northern tip of Taiwan, and is the same distance north of the Kinmen Islands. There are two harbors in Nankan: Fuwo and Matsu. Other major islands of the group are Peikan, Kaoteng, Tungyin, Hsiyin, Tungchu, and Hsichu. Nankan is the largest, with an area of 10.4 sq. km. Kaoteng is located only 5.5 nautical miles (9,250 meters) from the Chinese mainland.

Taiwan has a major missile and radar complex on Tungyin Island, part of the Matsu group just 16 kilometers from the Chinese coast. It supports both the 100 kilometer-range Hsiung Feng 2 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missiles and the Tien Kung 2 (Sky Bow) medium- to high-altitude surface-to-air missiles. The complex also includes two separate radars for the navy and army.

Tatao Airport--sometimes called Peikan Airport--is currently the archipelago's gateway to the world. Domestic airlines operate flights to all of the major cities on Taiwan proper, as well as to the islands of Kinmen and Matsu off the coast of mainland China. Projects have been made for construction of a new airport at Matsu (Nankan) and Matsu (Peikan).

The Matsu Archipelago gets its name from the popular sea goddess that is the most worshipped deity on the islands. The first mention of Matsu in the historical record involves an incident of piracy that took place in 1617. This was during the Ming Dynasty, when the seas around China were lousy with pirates. Pirate legends are still told in Chinpi, the most traditional village on Peikan Island.



Matsu Islands
Click on the small image to view a larger version

Overview of the Matsu Islands

Tactical Pilotage Chart of the Matsu Islands (Source: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency)

Tactical Pilotage Chart of the Matsu Islands (Source: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency)

Ikonos browse imagery of Matsu Island (south) (Source: Space Imaging, 9 September 2000)

Ikonos browse imagery of Matsu Island (south) (Source: Space Imaging, 9 September 2000)

Ikonos browse imagery of Matsu Island (north) (Source: Space Imaging, 9 September 2000)

Ikonos browse imagery of Matsu Island (north) (Source: Space Imaging, 9 September 2000)




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