Take a tour of Guangzhou Shamian Island

Shamian (also romanized as Shameen or Shamin, both from its Cantonese pronunciation) is a sandbank island in the Liwan District of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. The island’s name literally means “sandy surface” in Chinese. The territory was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing government in the 19th Century (1859 to 1943).

The island is a gazetted historical area that serves as a tranquil reminder of the colonial European period, with quiet pedestrian avenues flanked by trees and lined by historical buildings in various states of upkeep. The island is the location of several hotels, a youth hostel, restaurants, and tourist shops selling curios and souvenirs. Consulates: While Shamian Island has historically been the site of a number of consulates, the only one located on Shamian Island as of 2014 is the Consulate of Poland, at No. 63 Shamian Main Street. Former consulates on the Island include: Czechoslovakia. The Czech Consulate was for some time located at No. 1 North Shamian Street, in a 1911 building, which later hosted the North Korean trade delegation in Guangzhou. France. No. 20 South Shamian Street. Poland. No. 63 Shamian Main Street. Germany. No. 59 Shamian Main Street South. The building also housed the Asiatic Petroleum Company. Japan. No. 22 South Shamian Street. Norway. No. 54 Shamian Main Street North. Portugal. No. 42 South Shamian Street. Soviet Union. The Soviet Consulate was for some time located at 68 Shamian Main Street North, in a 1916 building. United Kingdom. No. 44-46 South Shamian Street. United States. The U.S. Consulate Guangzhou was located at No. 56 Shamian Main Street North from 1873 to 1938, and later during several months in 1949. In April 1990, the consulate moved again to Shamian Island, where it occupied the Consulate Tower, a new building at No. 1 Shamian South Street, built on reclaimed land near the Pearl River and next to the White Swan Hotel. In 2005, the Consular Section of the Consulate moved to a location in Tianhe District. In July 2013, the Consulate was relocated to a new building within Zhujiang New Town. The consulate’s location made Shamian Island a hub for U.S. families adopting children from China.