Named after the goddess "Mazu", Matzu Archipelago is located northwestward by west in Taiwan Strait, which is the very water Matzu had saved many sailors' lives.
Named after the goddess Mazu, the Matsu Islands are composed of dozens of islands, including Nangan, Beigan, Juguang, and Dongyin. The chain occupies the northernmost edge of the Taiwan-Penghu-Kinmen-Matsu area at the west-northwest side of the Taiwan Strait, just a stone's throw from mainland China. During the opposition to the mainland communist regime, Matsu served as Taiwan's front-line defense, turning the island landscape into battlefield scenes of psy-war slogans, defensive tunnels, and troops.
Although the monsoons, ocean currents, and Matsu's geographical position make the islands scorching hot in the summer, visitors still flock to Matsu in the months of June to August to see the fabled Chinese crested tern (or common tern). In winter, with the arrival of the chilling northeast monsoons, Matsu comes alive with folk activities and religious ceremonies for the Lantern Festival. Entire villages mobilize for this grand event, which consists of the "Bai Ming" offering ceremony and a ceremony to welcome the gods for a tour of the mortal world.
Differences between Matsu and the main island of Taiwan can also be seen in the building materials, architectural styles, and functional aspects of residences in Matsu. Some of the better-known villages include: Niujiao, Jinsha, and Tieban on Nangan Island; Qinbi and Qiaozai on Donggan Island; and Fuzheng and Dapu on Dongju Island. In addition, Matsu is a paradise for sea fishing thanks to its numerous bays and reefs, as well as ocean currents that channel abundant marine resources to the island throughout the year. Matsu also has many well-known local specialty products, including Matsu Aged Liquor and Tong Yung X'Old Kao Liang Liquor, both favorites served at state banquets. A wide variety of seafood and processed seafood products, healthy red yeast cuisine, pickled vegetables, and pastries also make good souvenir gifts for home.