Saturday, August 08, 2009

Keelung - Taiwan

Keelung City (also: Jilong or Chilung) is a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan. It borders Taipei County and forms the Taipei-Keelung metropolitan area, along with the City and County of Taipei. Nicknamed the Rainy Port for its frequent rain and maritime role, the city is Taiwan's second largest seaport (after Kaohsiung). Keelung is currently administered as a provincial city of Taiwan Province, Republic of China.

The city of Keelung was known as Kelung or Keelung to the Western world during the 19th century. However, the Taiwanese people have long called the city Kelang (Taiwanese language POJ: Ke-lâng, Chinese characters: 雞籠, meaning rooster cage).

It has been proposed that the name Keelung was derived from the local mountain that took the shape of a rooster cage. However, it is more probable that the name was derived from the first inhabitants of the region, as are the names of many other Taiwanese cities. In this case, the Ketagalan people were the first inhabitants, and early Han settlers probably approximated "Ketagalan" with "Ke-lâng" (phonetics of the Southern Min Language).

In 1875, during Qing Dynasty rule, the Chinese characters of the name were changed to the more auspicious 基隆 (pinyin: Jīlóng; POJ: Ki-liông, meaning prosperous base). In Mandarin, probably the working language of Chinese government at the time, both the old and new names were likely pronounced Kīlóng (hence "Keelung"). Under Japanese rule (1895-1945), the city was known to the west by Japanese readings of the new name: Kirun, Kiirun or Kīrun. In Modern Standard Mandarin, the official language of the Republic of China, the new name is read Jīlóng, although the locals have continued to call the city Ke-lâng throughout changes in government.

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