In 1573 the Guangdong Province county of Dongguan was divided into two arts, one of which was named Xin'an Xi an (New Peace County). Its 600 square miles of territory included all of what is now Hong Kong and the New territories. The new county was poor, sparsely populated and harassed by marauding bands of pirates and land-based ruffians. The Xin'an Xianzhi (Gazetteer of Xin'an County) was the combined work of local people and officials posted to the county. It dealt with the geography, history, economy, traditions and literature of the area and remains today the fullest source of information on pre-twentieth century Xin'an. This book looks at the 1819 edition of the gazetteer, the last revision of it to be made. The contents of its twenty-five chapters are analysed and discuessed under the four main headings History, Geography, Economy and Government, and a translation section samples the rich material found there. Old maps of the county have been specially redrawn to accompany the text. For the student of Chinese history, for those interested in pre-British Hong Kong and for the layman alike this is a fascinating and enjoyable book which while satisfying in itself will also serve as a guide to further research.
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