Jian'ou is within a major rice-growing area. It is located on the Jianxi Brook, about 70 kilometres (43 mi) south from Jianyang. It is famous as the producing area of bamboo.
Jian'ou was formerly called Kenō, that is, it was the governmental seat of Jianning prefecture. This prefecture and that of Fuzhou were the earliest-established component territories of the province that came to group them, and thus bears their conjoined names: Fu + Jian (福 + 建).
At one time, it was the capital of Fujian. It was the capital of Yin Country in AD 943.
Jian'ou was visited by Marco Polo in 1291, CE, on his way from Hangzhou to Quanzhou. In his account Il Milione, dictated seven years later to a scribe writing in Old French, the name Jianning-fu is romanised Quenlinfu. The city is, he says,
"of considerable size, and contains three very handsome bridges, upwards of a hundred paces in length and eight paces in width. The men of the place are very handsome, and live in a state of luxurious ease. There is much raw silk produced here and it is manufactured into silk pieces of various sorts. Cottons are also woven of coloured threads, which are carried for sale to every part of the province of Mangi. The people employ themselves extensively, and export quantities of ginger and galangal. I have been told, but did not myself see the animal, that there are found at this place a species of domestic fowls which have no feathers, their skins being clothed with black hair, resembling the fur of cats. Such a sight must be extraordinary. They lay eggs like other fowls, and they are good to eat. The multitude of tigers renders traveling through the country dangerous, unless a number of persons go in company."
Ouning Street Office (瓯宁街道): Qilijie Village, Shuixi Village
Zhishan Street Office (芝山街道): Xida Village, Haodong Village, Mawen Village
Jian'an Street Office (建安街道): Dong'an Village, Dongmen Village, Qianjie Community
Tongji Street Office (通济街道): Sanmen Village, Nanmen Village, Dongxi Village, Qiaonan Community, Nanmen Community, Taozhu Community
Xudun (徐墩镇): Datan Village, Jiukuang Village, Lingtou Village, Hutang Village, Shanbian Village, Xiadui Village, Fengle Village, Fudun Village, Beijin Village, Dongbian Village, Guizong Village, Yefang Village, Changting Village, Xudun Village, Wanshou Community
Jiyang (吉阳镇): Guili Village, Julikou Village, Huangfu Village, Dafu Village, Qiaoxi Village, Zhangkeng Village, Shengli Village, Xinqiao Village, Caodun Village, Zhaidun Village, Yuxi Village, Jiyang Village
Nanya (南雅镇): Fangcun Village
Longcun (龙村乡)Railway: Hengfeng–Nanping Railway, Hefei-Fuzhou High-Speed Railway
Highway: G205, G25 Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway, G3 Beijing–Taipei Expressway
Coach Station: Jian'ou Station
Fangcun Kompia (房村光饼)
Xiaosong Bianrou (小松扁肉): originated from Hutou Village, Xiaosong Town
Fumao Cellar Spirit (福矛窖酒)
Zhuili chestnut (建瓯锥栗)
Pressed salted duck (建瓯板鸭)