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Southeast China

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Southeast China

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South East China has always been outward-looking. Many of China's mariners and traders have come from this region. Today, it is again a major center for trade.

It has also been the source of much migration. The vast majority of overseas Chinese can trace their ancestry to one or more of the three provinces. In any Western country, most people of Chinese descent can trace their roots to Guangdong, and the commonest style of Chinese food in the West is Cantonese (Guangdong) food. Nearly all Taiwanese trace their ancestry to Fujian. In Southeast Asia, most Chinese immigrants came from either Fujian or Guangdong. Hainanese are not as numerous, but also form a sizeable proportion of overseas Chinese populations, particularly in Singapore and Malaysia.


Provinces of southeast China.
Fujian Province
Guangdong Province (Eastern Guangdong, Northern Guangdong, Pearl River Delta, Western Guangdong)
Hainan Province


  • Fuzhou, capital of Fujian
  • Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, historically Southern China's greatest city, and the third largest city in China
  • Haikou, capital of Hainan
  • Sanya, Hainan's tourist center
  • Shantou, Special Economic Zone, Guangdong
  • Shenzhen Guangdong megacity, Special Economic Zone, next to Hong Kong
  • Xiamen, Special Economic Zone, Fujian
  • Zhanjiang, Guangdong, center for furniture
  • Zhuhai, Special Economic Zone, Guangdong, next to Macau

For an explanation of the term "Special Economic Zone", see List of Chinese provinces and regions.

Other destinations




This area of China is linguistically very rich, with many mutually unintelligible Chinese "dialects" spoken. The language with the most speakers is Cantonese, though it is not spoken outside of Guangdong. Other languages spoken include various belonging to the Min (Fujian) group, as well as Hakka. As with elsewhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca. As Mandarin is the only language taught in all schools, most people are bilingual in Mandarin and their local tongue.

Get in

Get around

As elsewhere in China, there is an extensive rail network. Rail is the main means of inter-city travel for the Chinese themselves, and many visitors travel that way as well. The system now includes fast bullet trains on some routes; unless your budget is very tight, these are the best way to go — fast, clean and comfortable.

All the major cities have airports with good domestic connections; some have international connections as well. See the individual city articles for details.

There is also an extensive highway network, much of it very good. Busses go almost anywhere, somewhat cheaper than the trains. See the China article for more. Driving yourself is also possible, but often problematic; see Driving in China.




Cantonese (Guangdong) and Fujian cuisine are two of the 'eight famous cuisines' in China. Cantonese food is widespread around the world, the basic style of most Chinese restaurants anywhere. Though true Guangdong cuisine, or Yue (粵) as it is known in China, may contain a few surprises, the essence of the style of cooking will be familiar to most visitors. Fujian cuisine (Min 闽) is known for is seafood. One famous dish is "Buddha jumps over a wall", a complex chowder that supposedly smells good enough to make a vegetarian monk forget his vows and hop a fence. Hainan is also known for its seafood. Hainan food tends to be lightly seasoned and not as heavy as other regions.


Stay safe

Humidity is often very high in the summer. From May to November Typhoons are possible.

Get out

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