Guǎngdōng Shěng
Abbreviation: 粤 (pinyin: Yu)
Missing image
Guangdong is highlighted on this map

Origin of Name 广 guǎng - region name
东 dōng- east
"eastern Guang"
Administration Type Province
Capital Guangzhou
CPC Guangdong Committee Secretary Zhang Dejiang
Governor Huang Huahua
Area 177,900 km² (15th)
Population (2002)
 - Density
78,590,000 (4th)
442/km² (9th)
GDP (2003)
 - per capita
1363.0 billion (1st)
17100 (5th)
Major Nationalities (2000) Han - 99%
Zhuang - 0.7%
Yao - 0.2%
Prefecture-level divisions 21
County-level divisions 121
Township-level divisions 1710
ISO 3166-2 CN-44

Guangdong (Template:Zh-stpw; Postal System Pinyin: Kwangtung or Canton Province, Jyutping: gwong2 dung1), is a province on the south coast of the People's Republic of China. Sometimes, "Canton Province" (based on an obsolete French-derived transliteration of "Guangdong") is used to mean Guangdong. This is as opposed to "Canton (City)", which refers to the city of Guangzhou, the provincial capital.

"Guang" itself means "expanse", and was associated with the region from the Western Jin Dynasty onwards. "Guangdong" and neighbouring Guangxi literally mean "Guang East" and "Guang West". Together, Guangdong and Guangxi are called the "Two Guangs" (兩廣 liăng guăng).

The modern abbreviation 粵/粤 (Yue) is related to the Hundred Yuet (百越), a collective name for various peoples that lived in Guangdong and other areas in ancient times.



Guangdong was far removed from the center of ancient Chinese civilization in the north China plain. It was populated by peoples collectively known as the Hundred Yuet (百越), who may have been Tai-Kadai and related to the Zhuang people in modern Guangxi.

Chinese administration in the region began with the Qin Dynasty, which, after establishing the first unified Chinese empire, expanded southwards and set up Nanhai Commandery (南海郡) at Panyu (番禺), near what is now Guangzhou. The Han Dynasty administered Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam as Jiao Province (交州). Under the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms, Guangdong was made its own province, the Guang Province (廣州), 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[1] ( As more migrants arrived, the local population was gradually assimilated to Han Chinese culture [2] (, or displaced.

Together with Guangxi, Guangdong was made part of Lingnan Circuit (嶺南道), or Mountain-South Circuit, in 627 during the Tang Dynasty. The Guangdong part of Lingnan Circuit was renamed Guangnan East Circuit(廣南東路 guǎng nn dōng l) in 971 during the Song Dynasty. "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.

During the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, Guangdong was a part of Jiangxi. 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 British, traded extensively through Guangzhou. Macau, on the 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 Macau, Hong Kong 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 laborers in southeast Asia and the Western United States. Until the late 20th century, residents in Chinatowns tended to be overwhelmingly from Guangdong, so much so that Cantonese, spoken by less than 10% of Chinese people in China, remains the lingua franca of the Chinese diaspora in many places abroad.

During the 1850s, the first revolt of the Taiping Rebellion took place in Guangdong. Because of direct contact with the West, Guangdong was a 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 China, Guangdong was the staging area for 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.

Hainan island was originally part of Guangdong but it was separated as its own province in the 1988.

Guangdong is believed to be the source of SARS in 2003.

Administrative divisions

The current immediate administrative divisions of Guangdong consist of 21 prefecture-level cities:

The above division govern, in total, 49 districts, 30 county-level cities, 42 counties, and 3 autonomous counties.


Guangdong faces the South China Sea to the south and had 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 (南岭). The highest point in the province is about 1,600 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.

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, Panyu, Shantou, Shaoguan, Xinhui, Zhanjiang and Zhaoqing.


After the communist takeover and until the start of the Deng Xiaoping reforms in 1978, Guangdong was an economic backwater. Economic development policies encouraged industrial development in the interior provinces which were weakly linked to Guangdong via transportation links. The government policy of economic autarky 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, its closeness 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 historical status of being economically backward.

The province is now one of the richest in the nation, with the highest GDP among all provinces. Its nominal GDP for 2003 was 165 billion USD (the same size as Hong Kong's) and it contributes approximately 12% of national economic output. It has three of the four Special Economic Zones: Shenzhen, Shantou and Zhuhai. The affluence of Guangdong, however, remains very much concentrated near the Pearl River Delta.


Even though official statistics show Guangdong as the 4th most populous province of China with about 80 million people, recently released information [3] ( suggests that there are an additional 30 million immigrants who reside in Guangdong for at least six months every year, making Guangdong the most populous province of China 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 labour.

Owing to the closeness of Guangdong to the ocean, Guangdong is also the ancestral home to large numbers of overseas Chinese. Most of the railroad laborers in the Western United States in the 19th century came from the province. Emigration in recent years has slowed due to the relatively good economy in the province.

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

Because of the high population density and the close proximity in which humans and animals live, Guangdong has often been the source of respiratory diseases such as influenza. In late 2002, Guangdong was the initial source of SARS.


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. Although some in the West assume that Guangdong's economic growth and distinctive language would give rise to separatism, this is not the case, and there has never been any significant support for separatism.

Although both Hong Kong and Macau have historically been part of Guangdong, the Basic Laws of both Special Administrative Regions (SARs) explicitly forbid provincial governments from intervening in political issues. Many issues, such as border policy and water rights, regarding the relationship between Hong Kong and Macao and the rest of China are settled via negotiation between the SAR's and the Guangdong provincial government. Because the SAR's are subdivisions of China, it is impossible for a negotiation to occur between the central government and the SAR government since they are of different statuses with the central government the higher power. However, because Guangdong and the SAR's of equal status with neither having control over the other, negotiation between them is possible and in fact encouraged on issues in which the Central Government has no opinion.


Culturally speaking, Guangdong is not homogeneous. The central region, which is also the political and economic center, is populated predominantly by Cantonese-speakers. Cantonese, rather than the official Mandarin, also serves as the lingua franca for 60,000,000 or so people of Guangdong speaking various dialects. This region is also associated with Cantonese cuisine (Simplified Chinese: 粤菜; Traditional Chinese: 粵菜), which is very well known in China, not just as one of the richest and most prestigious cuisines, but also as a cuisine specializing in exotic tastes. Cantonese opera (Simplified Chinese: 粤剧; Traditional Chinese: 粵劇) is a form of Chinese opera popular in Cantonese speaking areas.

The southeast coast of Guangdong, around the cities of Chaozhou and Shantou, forms its own cultural sphere. Here people speak Teochew, and their cuisine is Chiuchow cuisine. The northeast hills is populated by the Hakka people, who speak Hakka. Their cuisine is Hakka cuisine.

See also:


Miscellaneous topics

Professional sports teams based in Guangdong include:

Colleges and universities

External links

Province-level divisions administered by the People's Republic of China Missing image
Flag of the People's Republic of China

Provinces¹: Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang
Autonomous Regions: Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang
Municipalities: Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin
Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong | Macau
¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan

fr:Guangdong es:Guangdong ja:広東省 pt:Canto (provncia) fi:Guangdong sv:Guangdong th:กวางตุ้ง zh-cn:广东 zh-min-nan:Kńg-tang


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