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WÊN-CHOW-FU, a prefectural city in the province of Chehkiang, China, and one of the five ports opened by the Chifu convention to foreign trade, situated (28° 1′ N., 120° 31′ E.) on the south bank of the river Gow, about 20 m. from the sea. The population is estimated at 80,000. The site is said to have been chosen by Kwo P’oh (A.D. 276–324), a celebrated antiquary who recognized in the adjacent mountain peaks a correspondence with the stars in the constellation of the Great Bear, from which circumstance the town was first known as the Tow or Great Bear city. Subsequently the appearance in its vicinity of a white deer carrying a flower in its mouth was deemed so favourable an omen as to more than justify the change of its name to Luh or Deer city. Its present name, which signifies the “mild district,” and is correctly descriptive of the climate, though not of the inhabitants, was given to it during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The walls, which were built in the 10th century, are about 4 m. in circumference, 35 ft. in height, and 12 ft. broad at the top. The streets are paved with brick and are wide, straight and clean.

The gates, seven in number, were erected in 1598. Wen-chow is about 1560 m. S.S.E. by road from Peking and 600 m. E. S. E. of Hankow. The British consul and the customs outdoor staff occupy foreign-built houses on Conquest Island, which lies abreast of the city. The neighbourhood is hilly arid pretty, while opposite the north-west gate Conquest Island forms a picturesque object. The island is, however, more beautiful than healthy. The port, which was opened to foreign trade in 1876, has not justified the expectations which were formed of it as a commercial centre, and in 1908 the direct foreign trade was valued at £19,000 only. There is no foreign settlement at Wen-chow, and the foreign residents are mainly officials and missionaries. The tea trade of Wen-chow-Fu, formerly important, has declined owing to careless cultivation. A considerable native export trade in wood, charcoal, bamboo, medicines, paper umbrellas, oranges, otter skins and tobacco leaf is carried on. The imports are chiefly cotton yam and piece goods, kerosene oil, palm-leaf fans, aniline dyes, sugar and matches.