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Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province. It surpassed Henan and Sichuan 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 of the year.[1][2] The provincial capital Guangzhou and economic hub Shenzhen are amongst the most populous and important cities in China.

Since 1989 Guangdong has topped the total GDP rankings among all provincial-level divisions, with Jiangsu and Shandong second and third in rank. According to provincial annual preliminary statistics,[3] Guangdong's GDP in 2010 reached CNY 4,550 billion, or USD 689.02 billion, making its economy roughly the same size as that of Turkey or Indonesia.[4] Guangdong has the third highest GDP per capita among all provinces of mainland China, after Jiangsu and Zhejiang. The province contributes approximately 12% of the PRC's national economic output, and 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 in Guangdong's capital city Guangzhou.



"Guang" itself means "expanse" or "vast", and has been associated with the region since the creation of Guang Prefecture in AD 226. "Guangdong" and neighbouring Guangxi literally mean "expanse east" and "expanse west". Together, Guangdong and Guangxi are called the "Dual-Guangs" ( li ng gu ng). During the Song dynasty, the two Guangs were formally separated as Guangnan Dong lu ( ) and Guangnan Xi lu ( ), which became abbreviated as Guangdong lu ( ) and Guangxi lu ( ). The modern abbreviation / (Yue) is a shortened form of Baiyue ( ), a collective name for various peoples that lived in southern China 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", refers only to the provincial capital instead of the whole province, as documented by authoritative English dictionaries. The local people of the city of Guangzhou (Canton) and their language are still commonly referred to as Cantonese in English. Because of the prestige of Canton 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 centre of ancient Chinese civilization in the north China plain. It was populated by peoples collectively known as the Baiyue, who may have spoken Tai Kadai languages and been 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 Guangzhou. 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.[5] As more migrants arrived, the local population was gradually assimilated to Han Chinese culture,[6] or displaced. From the tenth to twelfth century, Persian women were to be found in Guangzhou (Canton), some of them in the tenth century like Mei Zhu in the harem of the Emperor Liu Chang, and in the twelfth century large numbers of Persian women lived there, noted for wearing mulitiple earrings and "quarrelsome dispositions".[7][8] Multiple women originating from the Persian Gulf lived in Guangzhou's foreign quarter, they were all called "Persian women" ( Po-ssu-fu or Bosifu).[9]

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 gu ng n n d ng l 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 Dynasty, large part of current Guangdong belongs to Jiangxi Province.[10] Its present name, "Guangdong Province" was given in early Ming Dynasty.

Since the 16th century, Guangdong has had extensive trade links with the rest of the world. European merchants coming northwards via the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, particularly the Portuguese and British, traded extensively through Guangzhou. Macau, on the southern coast of Guangdong, was the first European settlement in 1557.

In the 19th century, the opium traded through Guangzhou triggered the First Opium War, opening an era of foreign incursion and intervention in China. In addition to Macau, which was then a Portuguese colony, Hong Kong was ceded to the British, and Kwang-Chou-Wan to the French.

Guangdong was also the major port of exit for labourers to Southeast Asia and the West in the 19th century, i.e. United States and Canada. 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 city of Taishan (Toisan in Cantonese), who speak a distinctive dialect related to Cantonese called Taishanese (or Toishanese).

During the 1850s, the Taiping Rebellion, whose leader Hong Xiuquan was born in Guangdong and received a pamphlet from a Protestant Christian missionary in Guangdong, became a widespread civil war in southern China. 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 also from Guangdong.

During the early 1920s of the Republic of China, Guangdong was the staging area for Kuomintang (KMT) to prepare for the Northern Expedition, an effort to bring the various warlords of China back under the central government. Whampoa Military Academy 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. Hainan Island was originally part of Guangdong but it was separated as its own province in 1988.


thumb Guangdong faces the South China Sea to the south and has a total of 4,300 km of coastline. Leizhou Peninsula is on the southwestern end of the province. There are a few inactive volcanoes on Leizhou Peninsula. The Pearl River Delta 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 ( ). The highest peak in the province is Shikengkong 1,902 meters above sea level.

Guangdong borders Fujian province to the northeast, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces to the north, Guangxi autonomous region to the west, and Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions to the south. Hainan province is offshore across from the Leizhou Peninsula. Certain of the Pratas Islands which have traditionally been regarded as part of Guangdong Province are administered by the Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan.[11]

Cities around the Pearl River Delta include Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Shunde, Taishan, Zhongshan and Zhuhai. Other cities in the province include Chaozhou, Chenghai, Kaiping, Nanhai, Shantou, Shaoguan, Xinhui, Zhanjiang, Zhaoqing, Yangjiang and Yunfu.

Guangdong has a humid subtropical climate (K ppen Cfa inland, Cwa along the coast), though nearing a tropical climate in the far south. Winters are short, mild, and relatively dry, while summers are long, hot, and very wet. 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.


Shops in one of the streets of Guangzhou specialize in selling various electronic components, supplying the needs of local consumer electronics manufacturers. The shop in front is in the LED business. 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
2009 3,908,159
2010 4,596,300

After the communist revolution 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 joined 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 Kong, 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.

Guangdong's economic boom began with the early 1990s and has since spread to neighboring provinces, and also pulled their populations inward. The economic growth of Guangdong province owes much to the low-value added manufacturing which characterized (and in many ways still defines) the province's economy following Deng Xiaoping's reforms. Guangdong is not only China's largest exporter of goods, it is the country's largest importer as well.[12]

The province is now one of the richest in the nation, with the most billionaires in mainland China,, 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. In 2011, Guangdong's aggregate nominal GDP reached 5.30 trillion RMB (US$838.60 billion) with a per capita GDP of 47,689 RMB.[13] By 2015, the local government of Guangdong hopes that the service industry will account for more than 50% of the provinces GDP and high-tech manufacturing another 20%.[14]

In 2009, Guangdong's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 201 billion yuan, 1.93 trillion yuan, and 1.78 trillion yuan respectively.[4] Its per capita GDP reached 40,748 yuan (about US$5,965).[15] Guangdong contributes approximately 12% of the total national economic output.[16] Now, it has three of the six Special Economic Zones: Shenzhen, Shantou and Zhuhai. The affluence of Guangdong, however, remains very much concentrated near the Pearl River Delta.

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.[17]

Economic and technological development zones

  • Foshan National New & Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone[18]
  • Guangzhou 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 Dayawan Economic and Technological Development Zone
  • Huizhou Export Processing Zone
  • Huizhou Zhongkai Hi-Tech Development Zone
  • Shantou Free Trade Zone
  • Shatoujiao Free Trade Zone
  • Shenzhen Export Processing Zone
  • Shenzhen Futian Free Trade Zone[19]
  • Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park
  • Yantian Port Free Trade Zone
  • Zhanjiang Economic and Technological Development Zone (Chinese Version)
  • Zhuhai National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone
  • Zhuhai Free Trade Zone
  • Zhongshan Torch High-tech Industrial Development Zone


Guangdong officially became the most populous province in January 2005.[1][2] Official statistics had traditionally placed Guangdong as the 4th most populous province of China with about 80 million people (also, Sichuan, traditionally the most populous province, was divided into Sichuan and Chongqing 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.[20] 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 Canada, Western United States and Panama in the 19th century came from Guangdong. Many people from the region also travelled to the US / California during the gold rush of 1849, and also to Australia during its gold rush a decade or so later. 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. Within the Han Chinese, the largest subgroup in Guangdong are the Cantonese people. Two other major groups are the Teochew people in Chaoshan and the Hakka people in Huizhou, Meizhou, Heyuan, Shaoguan and Zhanjiang. There is a small Yao population in the north. Other smaller minority groups include She, Miao, Li, and Zhuang.

Guangdong has a highly unbalanced gender ratio that is among the highest of all provinces in China. According to a 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal, in the 1-4 age group, there are over 130 boys for every 100 girls.[21]


Guangdong is governed by a dual-party system like the rest of China. The premier is in charge of provincial affairs; however, the Party Secretary keeps things in check.

Relations with Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong and Macau, while historically parts of Guangdong before becoming colonies of the United Kingdom and Portugal respectively, are special administrative regions (SARs). 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 Macau, 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 area is served by several Radio Guangdong stations and Guangdong TV. There is an English programme produced by Radio Guangdong which broadcasts information about this region to the entire world through the WRN Broadcast.


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 Mandarin-speaking immigrants has diminished Cantonese linguistic dominance somewhat. This region is associated with Cantonese cuisine (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ). Cantonese opera (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ) is a form of Chinese opera popular in Cantonese speaking areas. Related Yue dialects are spoken in most of the western half of the province.

The area comprising the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou 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: , traditional Chinese: ), which is a Min dialect closely related to Min-nan and their cuisine is Teochew cuisine (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ). Teochew opera (simplified Chinese: , traditional Chinese: ) is also very famous with a unique form.

The Hakka people live in large areas of Guangdong, including Huizhou, Meizhou, Shenzhen, Heyuan, Shaoguan 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 ( ), Han opera (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ), Hakka Hanyue and sixian (traditional instrumental music) and Hakka folk songs ( ).

Zhanjiang area in southern Guangdong is populated by Hai'nan dialect (or Leizhou dialect as referred locally) speakers, Cantonese and Hakka are also spoken there.

Mandarin is the language used in education and government and in areas 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


  • Jinan University (Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Shenzhen)
  • Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou, Zhuhai)
  • Guangdong University of Foreign Studies ( ) since 1965 (Guangzhou)
  • Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine
  • South China Agricultural University ( ) (founded 1909) (Guangzhou)
  • South China University of Technology (Guangzhou)


  • Dongguan Institute of Technology
  • Dongguan University of Technology (Dongguan)
  • Foshan University (Guangzhou, Foshan)
  • Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts ( )
  • Guangdong Ocean University ( )
  • Guangdong University of Business Studies ( )
  • Guangdong Institute of Science and Technology ( )
  • Guangzhou Medical College ( )
  • Guangzhou Normal University
  • Guangdong Pharmaceutical University ( )
  • Guangdong Polytechnic Normal University ( )
  • Guangzhou Sports University ( )
  • Guangdong University of Technology ( )
  • Guangzhou University ( )
  • Hanshan Teachers College
  • Huizhou University
  • Guangdong Education and Research Network
  • Guangzhou Education College
  • Guangdong Institute of Education
  • Guangdong Medical College
  • Guangdong General Hospital
  • Guangdong Petrochemical Academy
  • Guangdong Radio & TV. University
  • Panyu Polytechnic
  • Shaoguan University
  • Shenzhen Party School
  • Shantou University (Shantou)
  • Shenzhen University (Shenzhen)
  • Shenzhen Polytechnic
  • Shunde University (Shunde)
  • South China Normal University ( )
  • Southern Medical University
  • Xijiang University
  • Xinghai Conservatory of Music ( )
  • Zhanjiang Normal University
  • Zhaoqing University ( )
  • Zhongkai Agrotechnical College ( ) (founded 1927)
  • Wuyi University ( )


List of current professional sports clubs based in Guangdong:

Sport League Tier Club City Stadium
Football Chinese Super League 1st Shenzhen Ruby Shenzhen Shenzhen Stadium
Football China League One 2nd Guangzhou FC Guangzhou Yuexiushan Stadium
Football China League One 2nd Guangdong Sunray Cave Guangzhou Provincial Stadium
Football China Women's Super League 1st Guangdong Highsun Foshan Century Lotus Stadium
Futsal China Futsal League 1st Guangzhou Sports Act Guangzhou Sports Univ Stadium
Basketball Chinese Basketball Association 1st Guangdong Winnerway Dongguan Dongguan Stadium
Basketball Chinese Basketball Association 1st Dongguan New Century Dongguan Dalang Stadium
Basketball National Basketball League 1st Guangzhou Free Man Guangzhou Mega Center Stadium
Basketball National Basketball League 1st Guangzhou Huangpu Guangzhou Huangpu Stadium
Basketball National Basketball League 1st Guangdong Changan Dongguan Dongguan Stadium
Basketball Women's Basketball Association 1st Guangdong Asia Aluminum Zhaoqing Zhaoqing Stadium
Volleyball Men's Volleyball League Div A 1st Guangdong Jianlong Taishan Taishan Stadium
Volleyball Women's Volleyball League Div A 1st Guangdong Evergrande Guangzhou Evergrande Stadium
Volleyball Women's Volleyball League Div B 2nd Guangdong Jianlong Taishan Taishan Stadium
Baseball China Baseball League 1st Guangdong Leopards Guangzhou Huangcun Stadium


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 Zhongshan.

Administrative divisions

Map # Name Administrative Seat Hanzi
Hanyu Pinyin
Population (2010)
Sub-provincial city
9 Guangzhou Yuexiu District
Gu ngzh u Sh
21 Shenzhen Futian District
Sh nzh n Sh
Prefecture-level city
1 Qingyuan Qingcheng District
Q ngyu n Sh
2 Shaoguan Zhenjiang District
Sh ogu n Sh
3 Heyuan Yuancheng District
H yu n Sh
4 Meizhou Meijiang District
M izh u Sh
5 Chaozhou Fengxi District
Ch ozh u Sh
6 Zhaoqing Duanzhou District
Zh oq ng Sh
7 Yunfu Yuncheng District
Y nf Sh
8 Foshan Chancheng District
F sh n Sh
10 Dongguan Dongguan
(Nancheng District)

D nggu n Sh
11 Huizhou Huicheng District
H izh u Sh
12 Shanwei Chengqu District
Sh nw i Sh
13 Jieyang Rongcheng District
Ji y ng Sh
14 Shantou Jinping District
Sh nt u Sh
15 Zhanjiang Chikan District
Zh nji ng Sh
16 Maoming Maonan District
M om ng Sh
17 Yangjiang Jiangcheng District
Y ngji ng Sh
18 Jiangmen Pengjiang District
Ji ngm n Sh
19 Zhongshan Zhongshan
(Dongqu District)

Zh ngsh n Sh
20 Zhuhai Xiangzhou District
Zh h i Sh

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

  • Governors of Guangdong
  • GD Greenway
  • Christianity in Guangdong


Economic data

External links

ace:Guangdong ar: zh-min-nan:K g-tang-s ng be: bg: bo: bs:Guangdong ca:Guangdong cs:Kuang-tung cy:Guangdong da:Guangdong de:Guangdong et:Guangdong el: es:Provincia de Cant n eo:G angdongo eu:Guangdong fa: fr:Guangdong ga:Guangdong gv:Guangdong gan: hak:K ng-t ng hi: ko: hr:Guangdong id:Guangdong ia:Qu ng ng is:Guangdong it:Quantung he: pam:Guangdong ka: sw:Guangdong lv:Guanduna lt:Guangdongas hu:Kuangtung mr: ms:Guangdong cdo:Gu ng-d ng my: nl:Guangdong ja: no:Guangdong nn:Guangdong pnb: pl:Guangdong pt:Guangdong ro:Guangdong ru: simple:Guangdong sr: sh:Guangdong fi:Guangdong sv:Guangdong tl:Guangdong th: tr:Guangdong uk: ug: za:Gvangjdungh vi:Qu ng ng wa:Gouangdong war:Guangdong wuu: zh-yue: zh:

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