Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a small island with a very big reputation. Situated just off the coast of Mainland China, it was the site of fierce fighting between Communist and Nationalist forces when the latter withdrew from the mainland in 1949. In that fighting the Nationalists emerged victorious, forging stories of loyalty and valor that live on today as important part of the historical legacy of the Chinese people of Taiwan. As a result, Kinmen has been regarded as hallowed- almost sacred- ground by the people and government of the Republic of China. Until recently closed to outside visitors because of its status as an island fortress guarding against a continuing communist threat, Kinmen has recently been opened to tourism. Kinmen is actually an archipelago consisting of 15 islets including, besides Kinmen itself, Liehyu (or Little Kinmen), Tatan, and Ertan. Three of the islets are occupied by Mainland China; the remainder-those under the control of the ROC- have a total land area of 150.46 square kilometers. The craggy island is made up primarily of granite, which at the highest point- Mt. Taiwu- rises 253 meters above sea level. This hill is the source of numerous streams that flow into reservoirs that supply water for the local population and beautify the landscape as well. Being relatively isolated in the sea, Kinmen in the past provided a popular haven for pirates and Japanese adventurers. Walls and moats were first constructed on the island as a defense against these marauders in 1387, during the reign of Emperor Taitsu of the Ming dynasty. This earned Kinmen the name, by which it is still known today; literally “Golden Gate”, the name actually translates, roughly, as “Impregnable Gateway.”