JINAN -- China has opened a strategically significant island county to foreign tourists.
A group of more than 10 tourists from the United States, Holland, Norway and Sweden on Saturday stepped on the isles off Yantai City of Shandong Province, becoming the first group of foreign visitors since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Changdao County, located in the juncture of the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, is composed of 32 islets and occupies two thirds the length of the Bohai Strait, which serves as a portal to the northern port municipality of Tianjin and neighboring Beijing.
The islets boast a vast surrounding sea area and more than 200 varieties of marine life.
The county has a history of more than 3,500 years and is regarded as the cradle of north China's maritime culture.