Guangdong

Guangdong (广东; Gwóngdūng in Cantonese; Guǎngdōng in Mandarin) is a province in SouthChina on the border with Hong Kong. It is China’s most populous province, and one of the richest.

If Guangdong were a country, then as of 2012 its population of 104 million would make it 12th in the world (after Mexico, ahead of the Philippines) and its GDP of $850 billion would be 16th (after South Korea, ahead of Indonesia). Both population and GDP are still growing.

In the era of tea clippers, both Guangdong and its capital Guangzhou were often referred to on maps and in spoken English as Canton. This usage continues today but to a much lesser extent with the transliterated Chinese name being used instead. Other versions no longer used include Kwangtung. The food and language of the area are still known as Cantonese.

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Guangdong borders the South China Sea and surrounds Hong Kong and Macau, both of which were administered as part of the province before being colonised. Though far from Beijing and sometimes seen as a provincial backwater, Guangdong has always been an active center of industry and trade; it was a major terminus of the Maritime Silk Road and also important in the era of tea clippers. It has also always been different from Northern China in some ways; there is a Guangdong saying that “The mountains are high and the Emperor is far away.”

The province’s economy improved dramatically after Deng Xiaoping initiated economic reforms in 1978. Home to three of the country’s Special Economic Zones (marked “SEZ” below, see List of Chinese provinces and regions for an explanation) and to a burgeoning manufacturing industry, Guangdong is now one of the richest provinces in China and does about a third of all China’s exports

The major cities in Guangdong have been magnets for migrant workers from poor inland provinces since the 1980s. In many cities this has led to problems with petty crime and homelessness. It also means that Mandarin is increasingly widely spoken and many taxi drivers or service staff are more conversant in Mandarin than Cantonese.

Many overseas Chinese, particularly those who emigrated before 1949, trace their roots to Guangdong, although many are from other coastal provinces such as Fujian or the area around Shanghai. The Chinese food most familiar to Westerners is basically Cantonese cooking, albeit sometimes adapted for the customers’ tastes.

Guangdong has a subtropical climate. Annual rainfall averages 1500-2000 millimeters and temperature averages 19C – 26C. Summers are hot and wet and there may be typhoons. The best time to visit Guangdong is in the Spring or Autumn.

Regions of Guangdong

  Eastern Guangdong
The coastal area east of the Pearl River Delta including the prefectures of Shanwei, Jieyang, Shantou and Chaozhou
  Northern Guangdong
The inland part of Guangdong including the prefectures of Yunfu, Zhaoqing, Qingyuan, Shaoguan, Heyuan and Meizhou
  Pearl River Delta
“The world’s workshop”, a major manufacturing area. Guangdong produces a third of China’s total exports and most of those are from the Delta region. The area from Shenzhen to Guangzhou is essentially one massive factory city. The region includes the prefectures of Jiangmen, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen and Huizhou
  Western Guangdong
The coastal area west of the Pearl River Delta, including the prefectures of Zhanjiang, Maoming and Yangjiang

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