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China's Floating Fishing Cities


This community in southeast China is home to 7,000 fishermen refusing to conform to modern lives, remaining in their traditional floating homes on the sea.

The Tanka people, also called boat people or 'gypsies of the sea' can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty where local fishermen settled on their vessels to avoid wartime chaos on the mainland.

The floating fishermen's village is located in Ningde City in southeast China’s Fujian province.


It has the longest coastline in Fujian and the largest mudflat in China, home to thousands of Tanka families who have been living on their fishing boats or in floating houses for generations.

Their living habits date back to the Tang Dynasty, around 700AD, when fishermen in east Fujian settled on their boats to avoid the chaos caused by war.

These fishermen were named the 'gypsies on the sea', rarely stepping onto the mainland, and instead living their lives on the waves.



Before the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, the ‘gypsies of the sea’ were not allowed to go ashore or marry the people living along the beach.

Everything from weddings to funeral ceremonies were instead held on the boats.

In recent years, with the help of the local government, the fishermen have started to build houses along the shoreline.

However, many of them prefer to still live out on the sea on their floating homes as is their people’s tradition.

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