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Guangdong (广东; Guǎngdōng) is a province in South East China on the border with Hong Kong.

In the era of tea clippers, both Guangdong and its capital Guangzhou were referred to in English as "Canton", or "Kwangtung". The food and language of the area are still known as "Cantonese".


Guangdong faces the South China Sea and surrounds Hong Kong and Macau. Long a provincial backwater, the province's economic fortunes changed dramatically when 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 the richest province in China. It is also one of the most populous Chinese provinces, with approximately 110 million people, more than all but ten countries.

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 which 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 (1), Jieyang (2), Shantou (3) and Chaozhou (4)
Northern Guangdong
the inland part of Guangdong including the prefectures of Yunfu (5), Zhaoqing (6), Qingyuan (7), Shaoguan (8), Heyuan (9) and Meizhou (10)
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 (11), Foshan (12), Zhongshan (13), Zhuhai (14), Guangzhou (15), Dongguan (16), Shenzhen (17) and Huizhou (18)
Western Guangdong
the coastal area west of the Pearl River Delta including the prefectures of Zhanjiang (19), Maoming (20) and Yangjiang (21)


  • Guangzhou - the capital of the province, largest city, economic and cultural center
  • Dongguan - center for the garment trade, light manufacturing, and electronics, between Guangzhou and Shenzhen
  • Qingyuan - popular amongst local travelers for its white-water rafting and hot springs.
  • Shantou - on the coast North of Hong Kong, SEZ
  • Shaoguan - located in northern Guangdong
  • Shenzhen - boom town on border with Hong Kong, SEZ
  • Zhongshan - Hometown of the revolutionary father of modern China, Sun Yatsen, and now a major industrial city southeast of Guangzhou
  • Zhanjiang - in the West
  • Zhuhai - fast growing town on border with Macau, SEZ

Shenzhen. Zhuhai and Shantou are Special Economic Zones (SEZs) where various government programs encourage investment.

Other destinations


Mandarin is widely spoken, almost universally by educated people, especially in areas like Shenzhen and Zhuhai which have been built through migration from all across China.

The historic language of the region is Cantonese which differs from Mandarin as much as French differs from Italian or Spanish. Cantonese people are extremely proud of their language (this applies in Hong Kong as well) and continue to use it widely despite efforts at Mandarinization. Cantonese itself is more closely related to the language of the great Tang Dynasty than the more modern (circa Yuan Dynasty) Mandarin. Cantonese people worldwide tend to refer to themselves as Tang Ren (People of the Tang) rather than Han, the standard appellation for ethnic Chinese. Note that there can be significant dialectal variations within Cantonese, and the Cantonese spoken in areas in the far Western reaches of Guangdong (eg. Taishan) are only marginally, or sometimes even not mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong or Guangzhou.

At the coastal areas near the border with Fujian, most notably Chaozhou and Shantou, a variant of Minnan known commonly as Teochew (the native pronunciation of Chaozhou) is spoken. Teochew is not mutually intelligible with Cantonese, but is to a small extent mutually intelligible with the Xiamen dialect of Minnan.

Certain parts of the province are also home to Hakka communities, and they speak the Hakka dialect, which is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese or Teochew.

Get in

There are several large modern airports in the region: Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau have many international flights; Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou cater almost entirely for domestic Chinese flights.

The area is also well connected to the rest of China by road and rail.

Get around


There are four railway companies in the province. Major rail lines running through Guangdong include Beijing to Kowloon, Beijing to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Meixian, and Shantou and Sanshui to Maoming.


A total of 1,689 km of highways at fourth-grade or above were constructed in 2003, of which new express highways accounted for 562 km and upgraded highways 333 km.


The province has more than 100 ports, including Huangpu, Zhanjiang, Shekou and Chiwan. Five quays were either built or extended in 2003, a year in which the volume of freight handled reached some 2.4 million tons.


These are the Tourists' Hot Spot when they visit Guangdong

  • Baiyun Hill in Guangzhou
  • Xiangjiang Wildlife Park in Guangzhou
  • Overseas Chinese Town in Shenzhen
  • Guanlan Golf Course in Shenzhen
  • Yuanming New Park in Zhuhai
  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen's birthplace in Zhongshan
  • Star Lake in Zhaoqing
  • Mount Sijiao in Foshan
  • Mount Danxia in Shaoguan
  • Qingxin Hot Springs in Qingyuan
  • Hailing Island's Dajiao Bay in Yangjiang

By visiting these destinations, a visitor can gain an understanding of China's history and culture as well as experience the customs and cultural differences both between their own culture and China and between Guangdong and other regions of China.



Guangdong has a many restaurants, with Guangzhou in particular having a reputation as a diner's paradise. Other than sit-down restaurants, bustling night markets provide an eclectic mix of inexpensive finger foods, snacks, and delicacies. These markets are filled with shops and food carts integrating the eating and window-shopping experiences. Night markets are usually very crowded with both tourists and locals.



Stay safe

The major cities of Guangdong are heavily infested with pickpockets, and anyone who does not look Chinese is a prime target. For some info on defenses, see pickpockets.

Get out

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