Quanzhou, formerly known as Zaitun, was one of the earliest places in China opened to the outside world and is a historical and cultural city famous. The earliest records of friendly contact between Quanzhou and the countries of Southeast Asia date from the Southern Dynasties in the sixth century. By the Tang dynasty, Quanzhou had already become one of China's four greatest ports. In the Song and Yuan, Quanzhou became as famous a port as Alexandria. With increasing economic and cultural interaction, Quanzhou became a centre of East-West cultural exchange. The remnants of the ancient Minyue culture, the civilization of the Central Plains of China, and foreign cultures all intermingled together, forming a comples and multifaceted culture unique in the Chinese cultural sphere.