The Penghu (Hokkien POJ: Phîⁿ-ô͘  or Phêⁿ-ô͘ ) or Pescadores Islands are an archipelago of 90 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait. The largest city is Magong, located on the largest island, which is also named Magong. Covering an area of 141 square kilometers (54 sq mi), the archipelago collectively forms Penghu County of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and is the second smallest county, after Lienchiang.

Penghu Islands


Penghu County


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 23°35′N 119°35′E
CountryRepublic of China
ProvinceTaiwan Province (streamlined)
SeatMagong City
Largest cityMagong
Boroughs1 city, 5 rural townships
  County MagistrateLai Feng-wei (KMT)
  Total141.052 km2 (54.460 sq mi)
Area rank22 of 22
 (December 2014)
  Rank21 of 22
  Density720/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (National Standard Time)
ISO 3166 codeTW-PEN
BirdSmall Skylark (Alauda gulgula)
FlowerFirewheel (Gaillardia pulchella)
TreeChinese Banyan (Ficus microcarpa)
Penghu Islands
Traditional Chinese澎湖群島
PostalPescadores Islands
Penghu Island
Traditional Chinese澎湖島
Penghu County
Traditional Chinese澎湖


The traditional name of the islands, the Pescadores, comes from the Portuguese name Ilhas dos Pescadores ("Fishermen Islands"). The European Portuguese pronunciation is [pɨʃkɐˈðoɾɨʃ] but, in English, it is typically closer to Classical Portuguese's: /ˌpɛskəˈdɔːrɪz, -z/. The islands have also been called Pehoe from the Minnan name Phêⁿ-ô·.[1] Using romanization based on the Mandarin pronunciation for the Chinese name, the islands have also been referred to as 'Penghu Liehtao'.

Pescadores was also the name given by the Spanish expedition of Hernando de Grijalva in 1537 to the Micronesian atoll Kapingamarangi.


Finds of fine red cord-marked pottery indicate that Penghu was visited by people from southwestern Taiwan around 5,000 years ago, though not settled permanently.[2]

Han Chinese from southern Fujian began to establish fishing communities on the islands in the 9th and 10th centuries,[2] and representatives were intermittently stationed there by the Southern Song and Yuan governments from around 1170.[3]

Wang Dayuan gave a detailed first-hand account of the islands in his Daoyi Zhilüe (1349).[4]

Ming dynasty

In the 15th century, the Ming ordered the evacuation of the islands as part of their maritime ban. When these restrictions were removed in the late 16th century, legal fishing communities were re-established on the islands. These fishermen worshipped at the Mazu Temple that gave Magong its name and themselves gave rise to the Portuguese and English name Pescadores.[3] The Ming established a military presence in 1603.[5]

At this time, the Dutch East India Company was trying to force China to open a port in Fujian to Dutch trade and expel the Portuguese from Macau.[6][7][8] When the Dutch were defeated by the Portuguese at the Battle of Macau in 1622, they seized Penghu, built a fort there, and threatened raids on Chinese ports and shipping unless the Chinese allowed trading with them on Penghu and that China not trade with Manila.[9] In response, the Chinese governor of Fujian demanded that the Dutch withdraw from Penghu to Taiwan, where the Chinese would permit them to engage in trade.[10][11] The Dutch continued to raid the Fujian coast between October 1622 and January 1624 to force their demands, but were unsuccessful.[12] In 1624, the new governor of Fujian sent a fleet of 40–50 warships with 5,000 troops to Penghu and expelled the Dutch, who moved to Fort Zeelandia on Taiwan.[13][14]

Qing dynasty

For a period in the mid-17th century, Taiwan and the archipelago were ruled by the Koxinga kingdom (Kingdom of Tungning), which was overthrown by the Qing dynasty in 1683 after the Battle of Penghu.

The Penghu archipelago was captured by the French in March 1885, in the closing weeks of the Sino-French War, and evacuated four months later. The Pescadores Campaign was the last campaign of Admiral Amédée Courbet, whose naval victories during the war had made him a national hero in France. Courbet was among several French soldiers and sailors who succumbed to cholera during the French occupation of Penghu. He died aboard his flagship Bayard in Makung harbour on 11 June 1885.[15]

Empire of Japan

Towards the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, having defeated the Qing in northern China, Japan sought to ensure that it obtained Penghu and Taiwan in the final settlement. In March 1895, the Japanese defeated the Chinese garrison on the islands and occupied Makung. The Japanese occupation of Penghu, with its fine harbor, gave the Imperial Japanese Navy an advanced base from which their short-range coal-burning ships could control the Taiwan Straits and thus prevent more Chinese troops from being sent to Taiwan. This action persuaded the Chinese negotiators at Shimonoseki that Japan was determined to annex Taiwan, and, after Penghu, Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula had been ceded to Japan in the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Shimonoseki in April, helped to ensure the success of the Japanese invasion of Taiwan in May.[16]

Penghu County was then called the Hōko Prefecture by the Japanese government of Taiwan. During World War II, Makō (Makung) was a major base for the Imperial Japanese Navy and the embarkation point for the invasion of the Philippines.

Republic of China

In the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the United States, the United Kingdom and China stated it to be their purpose that "all the territories that Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Formosa and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China". On 26 July 1945, the three governments issued the Potsdam Declaration, declaring that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out". However, the United States and the United Kingdom regard the aforementioned documents as merely wartime statements of intention with no binding force in law.

Following the surrender of Japan on 2 September 1945, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur issued General Order No. 1, which directed Japanese forces to surrender to the Allied Powers and facilitate the occupation of Japanese territories by the Allied Powers. In the Treaty of San Francisco, signed in 1951 and coming into effect in 1952, Japan renounced sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu, but left their final disposition unsettled. The archipelago has been administered by the Republic of China since 1945.

Boat people fleeing Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s and rescued by Taiwan's ships in the South China Sea were sent to the Penghu.[17]

On 25 May 2002, China Airlines Flight 611, a Boeing 747-200 aircraft flying from Taipei to Hong Kong, disintegrated and exploded over the Islands. The wreckage slammed into the Taiwan Strait, a couple of miles off the coast. All 225 passengers and crew on board were killed.[18]


Penghu County has a dry-winter humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cwa), bordering on a regular humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa).


Penghu County is administered by Penghu County Government headed by Magistrate Lai Feng-wei of the Kuomintang and headquartered at the Penghu County Hall.

Administrative divisions

Penghu County is divided into 1 city and 5 rural townships. It is further divided into 97 villages.[20] Like Lienchiang County, Penghu County has no urban townships. The county seat is located at Magong City where it houses the Penghu County Hall and Penghu County Council.

TypeNameChineseTaiwaneseHakkaEnglish translation
City Magong City馬公Má-kengMâ-kûngOriginally Mazu Temple (媽宮)
Huxi湖西Ô͘-saiFù-sîLake West / West of Penghu
Baisha白沙Pe̍h-soaPha̍k-sâWhite Sand
Xiyu西嶼Sai-sūSî-yíWestern Isle
Wangan (Wang-an, Wang'an)望安Bāng-oaⁿMong-ônHope Safe (網垵)
Cimei (Qimei)七美Chhit-bíTshit-mîSeven Beauties (大嶼)

The main islands of Magong City/Huxi Township, Baisha Township, and Xiyu Township are the three most populous islands and are connected via bridges. Two shorter bridges connect Huxi and Baisha. The Penghu Great Bridge connecting Baisha and Xiyu is the longest bridge in Taiwan.


The county elects a single representative to the Legislative Yuan. In the 2016 Republic of China legislative election, this seat was won by the Democratic Progressive Party with 55.4% of the vote.[21]

Political dispute

Despite the controversy over the political status of Taiwan, both the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China agree that Penghu is a county in (their own respective) "Taiwan Province" (Taiwan Province, Republic of China and Taiwan Province, People's Republic of China). However, geographically, the island of Taiwan does not include Penghu, although it is closer to Taiwan than mainland China. Thus, Penghu is listed separately from "Taiwan" in some contexts, e.g. the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu (the official WTO name for the Republic of China) in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Cairo Declaration, and the Treaty of San Francisco (see above).


Due to its restricted geography, fisheries have been the main industry for Penghu.[22] The Agriculture and Fisheries Bureau of the Penghu County Government governs matters related to agriculture and fisheries in Penghu. In 2016, the bureau placed a ban on the harvesting of sea urchins due to their declining population. However, the ban was lifted in 2017 but catches are limited only to those species larger than 8 cm (3.1 in) in diameter.[23]


Historical population
1985 102,282    
1990 95,932−6.2%
1995 90,937−5.2%
2000 89,496−1.6%
2005 91,785+2.6%
2010 96,918+5.6%
2015 102,304+5.6%
Source:"Populations by city and country in Taiwan". Ministry of the Interior Population Census. May 2018.


Education-related matters in Penghu County are administered under the Education Department of the Penghu County Government. The county houses the National Penghu University of Science and Technology.


Penghu is powered by the Chienshan Power Plant, a 140 MW diesel-fired power plant commissioned in 2001, and the Hujing Power Plant on Table Island. On 24 December 2010, the Taiwan-Penghu Undersea Cable Project of Taipower was approved by the Executive Yuan to connect the electrical grid in Taiwan Island to Penghu.[24]

Under a wind power development project approved in 2002 by the Executive Yuan, the ROC government plans to set up a total of 200 wind turbines in Penghu within 10 years. However, only 14 turbines have been set up as of 2015. On 1 October 2015, Taipower announced the construction of another 11 new wind turbines across the island, of which 6 will be constructed in Huxi Township and 5 in Baisha Township.[25]

The current total desalination capacity of the county to provide clean water to its residents is 15,500 m3 per day. To reduce its groundwater use, in November 2015 the county secured a contract of building an additional desalination plant with 4,000 m3 capacity per day, construction of which is expected to be completed by May 2018.[26]


The Penghu National Scenic Area was established in the early 1990s, comprising most of the islands and islets of the archipelago. Tourism has since become one of the main sources of income of the county.

Historical sites include Central Street, Mazu Temple, Four-eyed Well, Penghu Reclamation Hall, Qimei Lighthouse, Siyu Eastern Fort, Jinguitou Fortress and Siyu Western Fort. Museums in the county are Chuwan Crab Museum, Ocean Resources Museum, Chang Yu-sheng Memorial Museum and Penghu Living Museum. Other attractions in the county include the Double-Heart of Stacked Stones, Fenggui Cave, Little Taiwan, Whale Cave, Xiaomen Geology Gallery and South Penghu Marine National Park.[27]

Since 1 January 2015, tourists from Mainland China can directly apply for the Exit & Entry Permit upon arrival in Penghu. This privilege also applies to Kinmen and the Matsu Islands as a means to boost tourism in the outlying islands of Taiwan.[28]

The county welcomed 1.8 million tourists in 2018 with an average annual growth of around 10%.[29]

Drug smuggling

As a lightly populated outlying island, Penghu presents as a trans-shipment hub for drug smuggling into Taiwan from China and the Philippines. The area has become a focus for a drug crackdown in recent years. [30][31][32]

In 2016, Chou Meng-hsiang (周盟翔), chief prosecutor of the Penghu District Prosecutors Office,“led an investigation team in Taiwan, including officers from the Coast Guard Administration, in a bid to bring (a) drug trafficking ring to justice.” A joint investigation with Philippine and Chinese authorities spanning one and a half years resulted in the seizure of “22.6 kilograms of amphetamine, 11.4 kilograms of ephedrine, and about 40 kilograms of calcium chloride” with an estimated value of NT$123 million. Eight suspects were arrested in Cagayan, a small island in northern Philippines, but no Taiwanese nationals were charged in relation to the importation scheme.[33]

In 2017, media reported “the biggest-ever haul of drugs in the county’s history” when 506 kg of ephedrine was seized from a Chinese fishing boat off Penghu “as part of an ongoing crackdown on the area drug trade”.[30] Ephedrine smuggling has increased in recent years as it has a similar structure to amphetamines and can be easily converted into methamphetamine. According to a Focus Taiwan report, “(It) can then be sold for ten times the price, in this case that would be more than NT$1 billion (US$33.33 million).” [31]

Despite the size of the drug seizure, only the five crew members of the Chinese fishing boat were detained in the operation, with authorities “unable to find the Taiwanese ship which should have turned up to take delivery of the drugs”. It was unclear from media reports how the Taiwanese side of the smuggling operation knew to abort the rendezvous. The suppliers of the shipment also evaded capture. It was believed the drugs were destined to be transported from Penghu for distribution on Taiwan.[34]


Penghu is served by Magong Airport in Magong City and Qimei Airport in Cimei Township. Both airports opened in 1977. Daily Air Corporation operates flights between Penghu to Kaohsiung.

Magong Harbor hosts ferry connections with Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi and Kinmen.

See also



  1. Campbell, William (1903). "Explanatory Notes". Formosa under the Dutch: described from contemporary records, with explanatory notes and a bibliography of the island. London: Kegan Paul. p. 546. OCLC 644323041.
  2. "Penghu Reclamation Hall". Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  3. Wills (2006), p. 86.
  4. Thompson (1964), pp. 167–168.
  5. Wills (2006), p. 87.
  6. Cooper (1979), p. 658.
  7. Freeman (2003), p. 132.
  8. Thomson (1996), p. 39.
  9. Shepherd (1993), p. 49.
  10. Covell (1998), p. 70.
  11. Wright (1908), p. 817.
  12. Wills (1998), pp. 368–369.
  13. Wills (1998), p. 369.
  14. Wills (2010), p. 70.
  15. Loir (1886), pp. 291–317.
  16. Takekoshi (1907), pp. 80–82.
  17. KAMM, HENRY (5 August 1981). "DESPITE PERILS AFLOAT, VIETNAMESE CONTINUE TO FLEE". The New York Times. CAMP ONE MAKUNG, Pescadores, Aug. 1.
  18. Barron, Lisa (28 May 2002). "China Airlines safety record in the spotlight". Cable News Network LP, LLLP. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  19. "Climate". Central Weather Bureau.
  20. "Precinct". Penghu County Govermment. Retrieved 6 May 2019. Penghu county consists of 1 city and 5 townships, which are Magong city, Huxi Township, Baisha Township, Xiyu Township, Wang-an Township and Qimei Township. The city and township comprise 97 villages.
  21. "2016 The 14th Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and The 9th Legislator Election".
  23. Chen, Chi-ching; Lin, Ko (11 May 2017). "Ban on sea urchin harvesting temporarily lifted in Penghu". Focus Taiwan. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  24. "Taiwan power company-Taipower Events". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  25. "Taipower to help build Penghu into low-carbon county".
  26. "Penghu chief seeks support for desalination plant expansion".
  27. "Ferry service between Tainan and Penghu's Dongji kicks off | Society | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  28. "Annual ridership on Kinmen-Fujian ferry services tops 1.5 million".
  29. Shan, Shelley (29 October 2019). "Official clarifies following Han's Penghu ferry vow". Taipei Times. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  30. "Largest-ever haul of drugs found off Penghu, police say - Taipei Times".
  31. "More details revealed about drug bust off Penghu | Society | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  32. "President orders all-out effort to combat drugs | Society | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  33. "Taiwan, China, Philippines bust drug trafficking ring | Society | FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS".
  34. News, Taiwan. "Massive drugs catch on Chinese fishing boat n..." Taiwan News.

Works cited

  • Cooper, J. P., ed. (1979). The New Cambridge Modern History IV: The Decline of Spain and the Thirty Years War, 1609–59. 4 (reprint ed.). CUP Archive. ISBN 978-0-521-29713-4. OCLC 655601868.
  • Covell, Ralph R. (1998). Pentecost of the Hills in Taiwan: The Christian Faith Among the Original Inhabitants (illustrated ed.). Hope Publishing House. ISBN 978-0-93-272-790-9. OCLC 833099470.
  • Freeman, Donald B. (2003). Straits of Malacca: Gateway or Gauntlet?. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-2515-3. OCLC 2004401056.
  • Loir, Maurice (1886). L'escadre de l'amiral Courbet. Paris: Berger-Levrault. LCCN 03013530. OCLC 23421595.
  • Shepherd, John Robert (1993). Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, 1600–1800 (illustrated ed.). Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-2066-3. OCLC 25025794.
  • Takekoshi, Yosaburō (1907). Japanese rule in Formosa. London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta: Longmans, Green, and co. OCLC 753129. OL 6986981M.
  • Thompson, Lawrence G. (1964). "The earliest eyewitness accounts of the Formosan aborigines". Monumenta Serica. 23: 163–204. doi:10.1080/02549948.1964.11731044. JSTOR 40726116.
  • Thomson, Janice E. (1996). Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe (reprint ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-2124-2. OCLC 860392554.
  • Wills, John E., Jr. (1998). "Relations with maritime Europeans, 1514–1662". In Twitchett, Denis C.; Mote, Frederick W. (eds.). The Cambridge History of China: Volume 8, The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Part 2. Cambridge University Press. pp. 333–375. ISBN 978-0-521-24333-9.
  • (2006). "The Seventeenth-century Transformation: Taiwan under the Dutch and the Cheng Regime". In Rubinstein, Murray A. (ed.). Taiwan: A New History. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 84–106. ISBN 978-0-7656-1495-7. OL 8055024M.
  • (2010). "Maritime Europe and the Ming". In Wills, John E., Jr. (ed.). China and Maritime Europe, 1500–1800: Trade, Settlement, Diplomacy, and Missions. Cambridge University Press. pp. 24–77. ISBN 978-0-521-43260-3. OL 24524224M.
  • Wright, Arnold (1908). Cartwright, H. A. (ed.). Twentieth century impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other treaty ports of China: their history, people, commerce, industries, and resources, Volume 1. Lloyds Greater Britain publishing company. OL 13518413M.

Further reading

  • Cook, Harold John (2007). Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-13492-6.
  • Deng, Gang (1999). Maritime Sector, Institutions, and Sea Power of Premodern China. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-30712-6.
  • Idema, Wilt Lukas, ed. (1981). Leyden Studies in Sinology: Papers Presented at the Conference Held in Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Sinological Institute of Leyden University, December 8-12, 1980. Volume 15 of Sinica Leidensia. Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden. Sinologisch instituut (illustrated ed.). BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-06529-1.
  • Li, Qingxin (2006). Maritime Silk Road. Translated by William W. Wang. China Intercontinental Press. ISBN 978-7-5085-0932-7.
  • Parker, Edward Harper, ed. (1917). China, Her History, Diplomacy, and Commerce: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (2nd ed.). J. Murray. LCCN 17030891. OL 6603922M.
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