The city is known for its mild climate, Hokkien culture and Gulangyu Island, as well as its relatively low pollution. In 2006, Xiamen was ranked as China's 2nd-"most suitable city for living", as well as China's "most romantic leisure city" in 2011.
The area around Xiamen Bay appears as Tong'an in some Han records. Xiamen Island was described as Jiahe Islet c. 976. It received its present name from the Xiamen Castle erected on the island by
Zhou Dexing in 1387 during the Ming. The name was formerly written using the Chinese characters meaning "Lower Gate". When its port prospered under the Qing, the name was considered unrefined and changed to homophonous characters meaning "Mansion Gate". Xiamen is the atonalpinyinromanization of the characters' pronunciation in Mandarin. It has also been romanized as Hiamen. The former English name "Amoy" was based on the same name's pronunciation in the Zhangzhou dialect of Hokkien, Ē-mûi.
Xiamen was also named Siming ("Remembering the Ming") for a few years (1656–c. 1661) during its occupation by the loyalist Southern Ming forces of Koxinga. The Qing restored the former name upon their conquest of the area, but Koxinga's name was in turn restored after the Xinhai Revolution that inaugurated the republic in 1912. The name Xiamen was later restored again[when?] but Siming continues to be used as the name of one of its districts.