THE Pescadores, which have recently been bombarded and occupied by Admiral Courbet, are a small group of islands lying in the Formosa Channel, about twenty-five miles off the west coast of Formosa. They are attached for administrative purposes to that island, and form one of the six districts into which it is divided. The islands are known to the Chinese as the Panghuting, or district of Panghu, and in Chinese geographical works more than thirty distinct islands are mentioned, but no distinction is made between the inhabited and uninhabited, large and small islands, nor between islands and mere rocks and shoals. The largest of the group is called Panghu, and from it the archipelago has doubtless derived its name. The main island is forty-eight miles in circumference, and the next in size, called Fisher's or West Island, is seventeen. According to the late Admiral Collinson, who surveyed it in 1845, the want of trees, which the Chinese officers accounted for by the violence of the wind and the absence of sheltered Valleys, give the islands a barren appearance. Millet is extensively cultivated, and between its rows the ground-nut is planted. In sheltered spots the sweet potato and a few vegetables are grown, but the inhabitants depend mainly on Formosa for vegetables and fruits. Bullocks and poultry were abundant. The population of the two larger islands was stated then to be 5000, and of the whole of the islands 8000. The archipelago contains actually twenty-one inhabited islands, besides several rocks. They extend from 23° 13′ to 23° 48′ N. lat., and from 19° 16′ to 119° 37′ E. long. Their general appearance is flat, the summits of many of the islands being nearly level, and no part of the group being 300 feet above the sea-level. The two larger islands are situated near the centre of the archipelago, forming an extensive and excellent harbour between them. The capital of the whole—Makung or Macon—is situated on the north side of an inlet on the main island. The islands offer shelter in all states of the weather in the dangerous Formosa Channel. The archipelago was seized by the Dutch in 1622, and some remains of their fortifications are still to be seen; but in 1624 they left for Formosa, where they remained till finally driven out by the Chinese pirate Koxinga.
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Geographical Notes . Nature 31, 540–541 (1885). https://doi.org/10.1038/031540b0