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A special tour to celebrate St. Joseph's Festival with the islanders!
Age recommendation this time due to the information density, you will get to hear many stories and other details about the island.
The oldest traces of human settlements on Yim Tin Tsai date back some 2,000 years, but the most recent inhabitants are descendants of the Chan clan which settled here some 400 years ago. The Chans led a simple life, and the village economy revolved mainly around agriculture and salt making.
In the 1860s missionaries arrived in the region following the founding of the colony of Hong Kong, and they brought Catholicism to Yim Tin Tsai. By 1867 the whole island was baptised and started to follow Catholic faith. The first stone chapel on the island, and the first stone chapel in the region, was built on the island in 1876. It was replaced by the St Joseph's Chapel we still see today in 1890.
After WW2 the population of the island grew rapidly. In the 1950s a pipeline was built to provide drinking water to the island, and by the 1970s the population reached 500. At it's peak, about 100 children attended the village school.
Late 1970s saw the collapse of agriculture in Hong Kong. The islanders started to leave, the church fell into disuse, the school closed in the early 1980s and the ferry service stopped a decade later as there were no residents left.
In 2004, the derelict church was renovated, and in 2013 the renovation of the salt farm started. Since 2015 salt is being produced again at this island, albeit as demonstration and for tourism reasons only. The church is in active use, celebrating mass at special occasions. It also takes part in the worldwide Jubilee of Mercy (2016), with the side entrance a designated Door of Mercy.