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Guangdong ( ; EFEO : Kouangtong; pinyin Guǎngdōng; Postal map spelling: Kwangtung) is a province on the southern coast of People's Republic of Chinamarker. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province. It surpassed Henanmarker and Sichuanmarker to become the most populous province in China in January 2005, registering 79 million permanent residents and 31 million migrants who lived in the province for at least six months. The provincial capital Guangzhoumarker (Canton) and economic hub Shenzhenmarker are among the most populous and important cities in China.

Guangdong is one of China's most prosperous provinces. As of 2008, it has the highest total GDP among all provincial-level jurisdictions. According to latest figures its GDP has reached 3.57 trillion yuan, or US$522 billion, making its economy roughly the same size as that of Sweden. Guangdong contributes approximately 12% of national economic output. The province is home to the production facilities and offices of a wide-ranging set of multinational and Chinese corporations. Guangdong also hosts the largest Import and Export Fair in China called the Canton Fair which is hosted by the city of Guangzhou - Guangdong's capital city.


"Guang" itself means "expanse" or "vast", and has been associated with the region since the creation of Guang Prefecture in AD 226. "Guangdong" and neighboring Guangxi literally mean "expanse east" and "expanse west". Together, Guangdong and Guangxi are called the "Dual-Guangs" (兩廣 liăng guăng). During the Song dynasty, the two Guang's were formally separated as Guangnan Dong lu (广南东路) and Guangnan Xi lu (广南西路), which became abbreviated as Guangdong lu (广东路) and Guangxi lu (广西路). The modern abbreviation 粵/粤 (Yue) is related to the Hundred Yue (百越), a collective name for various peoples that lived in Guangdong and other areas in ancient times.

Prior to the introduction of Hanyu Pinyin, the province was known as Kwangtung Province. One should note that Canton, though etymologically derived from a Portuguese transliteration of "Guangdong", only refers to the provincial capitalmarker instead of the whole province, as documented by authoritative English dictionaries. The local people of the city of Cantonmarker and their language are still commonly referred to as Cantonese. Because of the prestige of Cantonmarker and its accent, Cantonese sensu lato can also be used for the phylogenetically related residents and Chinese dialects outside the provincial capital.


Guangdong was far away from the center of ancient Chinese civilization in the north China plain. It was populated by peoples collectively known as the Hundred Yue, who may have been Kradai and related to the Zhuang people in modern Guangxi.

Chinese administration in the region began with the Qin Dynasty. After establishing the first unified Chinese empire, the Qin expanded southwards and set up Nanhai Commandery at Panyu, near what is now part of Guangzhoumarker. It used to be independent as Nanyue between the fall of Qin and the reign of Emperor Wu of Han. The Han Dynasty administered Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam as Jiaozhi Province. Under the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms period, Guangdong was made its own province, the Guang Province, in 226.

As time passed, the demographics of what is now Guangdong slowly shifted to (Han) Chinese-dominance, especially during several periods of massive migration from the north during periods of political turmoil and/or nomadic incursions from the fall of the Han Dynasty onwards. For example, internal strife in northern China following the rebellion of An Lushan resulted in a 75% increase in the population of Guangzhou prefecture between 740s-750s and 800s-810s. As more migrants arrived, the local population was gradually assimilated to Han Chinese culture, or displaced.

Together with Guangxi, Guangdong was made part of Lingnan Circuit (political division Circuit), or Mountain-South Circuit, in 627 during the Tang Dynasty. The Guangdong part of Lingnan Circuit was renamed Guangnan East Circuit guǎng nán dōng lù in 971 during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). "Guangnan East" is the source of "Guangdong".

As Mongols from the north engaged in their conquest of China in the 13th century, the Southern Song Dynasty retreated southwards, eventually ending up in today's Guangdong. The Battle of Yamen 1279 in Guangdong marked the end of the Southern Song Dynasty (960-1279).

During the Mongol Yuan Dynastymarker, Guangdong was a part of Jiangximarker. Its present name, "Guangdong Province" was given in early Ming Dynastymarker.

Since the 16th century, Guangdong has had extensive trade links with the rest of the world. European merchants coming northwards via the Straits of Malaccamarker and the South China Seamarker, particularly the Portuguese and British, traded extensively through Guangzhou. Macaumarker, on the southern coast of Guangdong, was the first European settlement in China since 1557. It was the opium trade through Guangzhou that triggered the Opium Wars, opening an era of foreign incursion and intervention in China. In addition to Macaumarker, which was then a Portuguese colony, Hong Kongmarker was ceded to the British, and Kwang-Chou-Wan to the French.

In the 19th century, Guangdong was also the major port of exit for labourers to Southeast Asia and the West, i.e. United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. As a result, many overseas Chinese communities have their origins in Guangdong. The Cantonese language therefore has proportionately more speakers among overseas Chinese people than mainland Chinese. In the US, there is a large number of Chinese who are descendants of immigrants from the otherwise unremarkable Guangdong region of Taishanmarker (Toisan in Cantonese), who speak a distinctive dialect of Cantonese called Taishanese (or Toishanese).

During the 1850s, the first revolt of the Taiping Rebellion by the Hakka people took place in Guangdong. Because of direct contact with the West, Guangdong was the center of anti-Manchu and anti-imperialist activity. The generally acknowledged founder of modern China, Sun Yat-Sen, was from Guangdong.

During the early 1920s of the Republic of Chinamarker, Guangdong was the staging area for Kuomintang (KMT) to prepare for the Northern Expedition, an effort to bring the various warlord of China back under the central government. Whampoa Military Academymarker was built near Guangzhou to train military commanders.

In recent years, the province has seen extremely rapid economic growth, aided in part by its close trading links with Hong Kong, which borders it. It is now the province with the highest gross domestic product in China.

In 1952, a small section of Guangdong's coastline was given to Guangxi, giving it access to the sea. This was reversed in 1955, and then restored in 1965. Hainanmarker Island was originally part of Guangdong but it was separated as its own province in 1988.


Guangdong faces the South China Seamarker to the south and has a total of 4,300 km of coastline. Leizhou Peninsulamarker is on the southwestern end of the province. There are a few inactive volcanoes on Leizhou Peninsula. The Pearl River Deltamarker is the convergent point of three upstream rivers: the East River, North River, and West River. The river delta is filled with hundreds of small islands. The province is geographically separated from the north by a few mountain ranges collectively called the Southern Mountain Range (南岭). The highest peak in the province is Shikengkong 1,902 meters above sea level.

Guangdong borders Fujianmarker province to the northeast, Jiangximarker and Hunanmarker provinces to the north, Guangxi autonomous region to the west, and Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker Special Administrative Region to the south. Hainanmarker province is offshore across from the Leizhou Peninsula.

Cities around the Pearl River Deltamarker include Dongguanmarker, Foshanmarker, Guangzhoumarker, Huizhou, Jiangmenmarker, Shenzhenmarker, Shundemarker, Taishanmarker, Zhongshanmarker and Zhuhaimarker. Other cities in the province include Chaozhoumarker, Chenghaimarker, Kaipingmarker, Nanhai, Shantoumarker, Shaoguanmarker, Xinhui, Zhanjiangmarker, Zhaoqingmarker, Yangjiang and Yunfu.

Guangdong has a humid subtropical climate (tropical in the far south), with short, mild, dry, winters and long, hot, wet summers. Average daily highs in Guangzhou in January and July are and respectively, although the humidity makes it feel much hotter in summer. Frost is rare on the coast but may happen a few days each winter well inland.


This is a trend of official estimates of the gross domestic product of the Province of Guangdong with figures in millions of Chinese Yuan:
Year Gross domestic product
1980 24,521
1985 55,305
1990 140,184
1995 538,132
2000 966,223
2008 3,570,000

After the communist takeover and until the start of the Deng Xiaoping reforms in 1978, Guangdong was an economic backwater, although a large underground, service-based economy has always existed. Economic development policies encouraged industrial development in the interior provinces which were weakly linked to Guangdong via transportation links. The government policy of economic autarchy made Guangdong's access to the ocean irrelevant.

Deng Xiaoping's open door policy radically changed the economy of the province as it was able to take advantage of its access to the ocean, proximity to Hong Kongmarker, and historical links to overseas Chinese. In addition, until the 1990s when the Chinese taxation system was reformed, the province benefited from the relatively low rate of taxation placed on it by the central government due to its post-Liberation status of being economically backward.

Although Shanghai is often cited as evidence of China's success, Guangdong's economic boom exemplifies the reality of the vast labor-intensive manufacturing powerhouse China has become, and all the rewards and shortcomings that come with it. Guangdong's economic boom began with the early 1990s and has since spread to neighboring provinces, and also pulled their populations inward. The economy is based on manufacturing and export.

The province is now one of the richest in the nation, with the highest GDP among all the provinces, although wage growth has only recently begun to rise due to a large influx of migrant workers from neighboring provinces. Its nominal GDP for 2008 was 3.57 trillion yuan (US$514 billion).

In 2008, Guangdong's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 197 billion yuan, 1.84 trillion yuan, and 1.53 trillion yuan respectively. Its per capita GDP reached 37,588 yuan (about US$5,410). Guangdong contributes approximately 12% of the total national economic output. Now, it has three of the six Special Economic Zones: Shenzhenmarker, Shantoumarker and Zhuhaimarker. The affluence of Guangdong, however, remains very much concentrated near the Pearl River Deltamarker.

In 2008 its foreign trade also grew 7.8% from the previous year and is also by far the largest of all of China. By numbers, Guangdong's foreign trade accounts for more than a quarter of China's US$2.56 trillion foreign trade or roughly US$683 billion.

Economic and Technological Development Zones

  • Da Yawan Economic and Technical Development Zone
  • Foshanmarker National New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (Chinese Version)
  • Futianmarker Free Trade Zone
  • Guangzhoumarker Development District
  • Guangzhou Export Processing Zone
  • Guangzhou Free Trade Zone
  • Guangzhou Nansha Economic and Technical Development Zone
  • Guangzhou Nanhu Lake Tourist Holiday Resort (Chinese Version)
  • Guangzhou New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone
  • Huizhou Zhongkai National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone (Chinese Version)
  • Shantoumarker Free Trade Zone
  • Shatoujiao Free Trade Zone
  • Shenzhenmarker Export Processing Zone
  • Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park
  • Yantian Port Free Trade Zone
  • Zhanjiangmarker Economic and Technological Development Zone (Chinese Version)
  • Zhuhaimarker National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone
  • Zhuhai Free Trade Zone
  • Zhongshanmarker Torch High-tech Industrial Development Zone


Guangdong officially became the most populous province in January 2005. Official statistics had traditionally placed Guangdong as the 4th most populous province of China with about 80 million people (also, Sichuanmarker, traditionally the most populous province, was divided into Sichuan and Chongqingmarker in 1997) but recently released information suggests that there are an additional 30 million migrants who reside in Guangdong for at least six months every year, making it the most populous province with a population of more than 110 million. The massive influx of migrants from other provinces, dubbed the "floating population", is due to Guangdong's booming economy and high demand for labor.

Guangdong is also the ancestral home of large numbers of overseas Chinese. Most of the railroad laborers in Canadamarker, Western United States and Panamamarker in the 19th century came from Guangdong. Emigration in recent years has slowed with economic prosperity, but this province is still a major source of immigrants to North America and elsewhere in the world.

The majority of the province's population is Han Chinese. There is a small Yao population in the north. Other smaller minority groups include She, Miao, Li, and Zhuang.

Within the Han Chinese, the largest group in Guangdong are the Cantonese people. Two other major groups are the Hakka people in Meizhoumarker and the Teochew people in Chaoshan.


Perhaps due to its geographical proximity and linguistic differences, Guangdong's political scene has always been somewhat divergent to the central authorities. During the Qing Dynasty, the imperial government commissioned Manchus or well-trusted mandarins to serve as governors of the region. During the 1980s, the Guangdong provincial government had a reputation of resisting central government directives, especially those regarding the economy. At the same time, the good economic situation of Guangdong has made it relatively quiet in the area of political and economic activism. Almost every parts of China has its own differences in terms of political, economic, and linguistic and its same with Guangdong Province and within the province. The idea of Guangdong seceding from China did not bring much concern.

Relations with Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kongmarker and Macaumarker, while historically parts of Guangdong before becoming colonies of the United Kingdommarker and Portugalmarker respectively, are Special Administrative Regions, a first-order administrative division on the same level as Guangdong. Furthermore, the Basic Laws of both SARs explicitly forbid provincial governments from intervening in local politics. As a result, many issues with Hong Kong and Macao, such as border policy and water rights, have been settled by negotiations between the SARs' governments and the Guangdong provincial government.


Guangdong and the greater Guangzhou Province is served by several Guangdong Radio stations and Guangdong TV. There is an international station Radio Guangdong which broadcasts information about this region to the entire world through the World Radio Network.


The central region, which is also the political and economic center, is populated predominantly by Cantonese speakers, though the influx in the last three decades of millions of Putonghua-speaking immigrants has diminished Cantonese linguistic dominance somewhat. This region is associated with Cantonese cuisine (simplified Chinese: 粤菜; traditional Chinese: 粵菜). Cantonese opera (simplified Chinese: 粤剧; traditional Chinese: 粵劇) is a form of Chinese opera popular in Cantonese speaking areas. It is very famous. Related Yue dialects are spoken in most of the western half of the province.

The Hakka people live in large areas of Guangdong, including Huizhou, Meizhoumarker, Shenzhenmarker, Heyuanmarker, Shaoguanmarker and other areas. Much of the Eastern part of Guangdong is populated by the Hakka people except for the Chaozhou and Hailufeng area. Hakka culture include Hakka cuisine (客家菜), Han opera (simplified Chinese: 汉剧; traditional Chinese: 漢劇), Hakka Hanyue and sixian (traditional instrumental music) and Hakka folk songs (客家山歌).

The area comprising the cities of Chaozhoumarker, Shantoumarker and Jieyang in coastal east Guangdong, known as Chaoshan, forms its own cultural sphere. The Teochew people here, alongside with Hailufeng people in Shanwei, speak Teochew (simplified Chinese: 潮语, traditional Chinese: 潮語), which is a Min dialect closely related to Min-nan and their cuisine is Teochew cuisine. Teochew opera (simplified Chinese: 潮剧, traditional Chinese: 潮劇) is also very famous with a unique form.

Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese) is the language used in education and is increasingly spoken, especially by the younger generation and where there are migrants from other provinces, above all in Shenzhen. Cantonese maintains a strong position in common usage and media, even in eastern areas of the province where the local dialects are non-Yue ones.


Colleges and universities




Current professional sports clubs based in Guangdong include:
Sport League Tier Club City Stadium
Football Chinese Super League 1st Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Guangzhoumarker Yuexiushan Stadiummarker
Football Chinese Super League 1st Shenzhen Asia Travel Shenzhenmarker Shenzhen Stadiummarker
Football China League One 2nd Guangdong Sunray Cave Guangzhoumarker Huangpu Stadium
Football Women's Super League 1st Guangdong Highsun Foshanmarker Century Lotus Stadiummarker
Basketball Chinese Basketball Association 1st Guangdong Winnerway Dongguanmarker Dongguan Stadiummarker
Basketball Chinese Basketball Association 1st Dongguan New Century Dongguanmarker Dalang Stadium
Basketball National Basketball League 2nd Guangzhou Freemen Guangzhoumarker Tianhe Stadiummarker
Basketball National Basketball League 2nd Guangzhou Six-rice Guangzhoumarker Huangpu Stadium
Basketball National Basketball League 2nd Dongguan Park Lane Dongguanmarker Dongguan Stadiummarker
Basketball Women's Basketball Association 1st Guangdong Asia Aluminum Foshanmarker Nanhai Stadium
Volleyball Men's Volleyball League 1st Guangdong Jianlong Taishanmarker Taishan Stadium
Volleyball Wowen's Volleyball League 1st Guangdong Jianlong Taishanmarker Taishan Stadium
Table tennis China Table Tennis Super League 1st Guangdong Swiss Town Guangzhoumarker Yingdong Stadiummarker
Table tennis China Table Tennis 1A League 2nd Guangdong Double Fish Guangzhoumarker Yingdong Stadiummarker
Baseball China Baseball League 1st Guangdong Leopards Zhongshanmarker Zhongshan Stadiummarker


Notable attractions include Danxia Mountain, Yuexiu Hill in Guangzhou, Star Lake and the Seven Star Crags, Dinghu Mountain, and the Zhongshan Sun Wen Memorial Park for Sun Yat-sen in Zhongshanmarker.

Administrative divisions

Map # Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Type
1 Qingyuan 清远市 Qīngyuǎn Shì Prefecture-level city
2 Shaoguanmarker 韶关市 Sháoguān Shì Prefecture-level city
3 Heyuanmarker 河源市 Héyuán Shì Prefecture-level city
4 Meizhoumarker 梅州市 Méizhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
5 Chaozhoumarker 潮州市 Cháozhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
6 Zhaoqingmarker 肇庆市 Zhàoqìng Shì Prefecture-level city
7 Yunfu 云浮市 Yúnfú Shì Prefecture-level city
8 Foshanmarker 佛山市 Fóshān Shì Prefecture-level city
9 Guangzhoumarker 广州市 Guǎngzhōu Shì Sub-provincial city
10 Dongguanmarker 东莞市 Dōngguǎn Shì Prefecture-level city
11 Huizhou 惠州市 Hùizhōu Shì Prefecture-level city
12 Shanwei 汕尾市 Shànwěi Shì Prefecture-level city
13 Jieyang 揭阳市 Jiēyáng Shì Prefecture-level city
14 Shantoumarker 汕头市 Shàntóu Shì Prefecture-level city
15 Zhanjiangmarker 湛江市 Zhànjiāng Shì Prefecture-level city
16 Maomingmarker 茂名市 Màomíng Shì Prefecture-level city
17 Yangjiang 阳江市 Yángjiāng Shì Prefecture-level city
18 Jiangmenmarker 江门市 Jiāngmén Shì Prefecture-level city
19 Zhongshanmarker 中山市 Zhōngshān Shì Prefecture-level city
20 Zhuhaimarker 珠海市 Zhūhǎi Shì Prefecture-level city
21 Shenzhenmarker 深圳市 Shēnzhèn Shì Sub-provincial city

The above division govern, in total, 49 districts, 30 county-level cities, 42 counties, and three autonomous counties. For county-level divisions, see the list of administrative divisions of Guangdong.

See also


Economic data

External links

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