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Guangdong (广东 Pinyin: guang3 dong1), Kwangtung in older transliteration and Kuang-tung in Wade-Giles, is a province on the south coast of China.

Together, Guangdong and Guangxi are called the "Two Guang" (兩廣 liang3 gaung3).

Sometimes, "Canton Province" (based on an obsolete transliteration of "Guangdong") is used to mean Guangdong. This is as opposed to "Canton (City)", which refers to Guangzhou.

The abbreviation, Yue, is the name of a legendary ethnicity by the same name -- also Yue (越) -- that lived in Guangdong.

Guangdong Sheng
Province Abbreviations: 粤 yue4
Capital Guangzhou
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 12th
197,000 kmē
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 3rd
Administration Type Province

Table of contents


The Battle of Yamen (1279) took place in today's Guangdong.

Since the 16th century, Guangdong has had extensive trade links with the rest of the world. European merchants, particularly the British, traded extensively through Guangzhou, and it was the opium trade throught Guangzhou that triggered the Opium Wars.

In the 19th century, Guangdong was 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.

During 1850s, first revolt of Taiping Rebellion took place in Guangdong. Because of 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. 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.

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


In 214, Qin Shi Huangdi made the area Nanhai Commandry (南海郡), with the capital at Fan District (番禺) (today Guangzhou). In the Han Dynasty, it is in Jiao Prefecture (交州). It, with Guangxi, was Lingnan Circuit (嶺南道), or Mountain-South Circuit, in 627 during the Tang Dynasty.

The Guangdong part of Lingnan Circuit was re-named Guangnan East Region (廣南東路 guang3 nan2 dong1 lu4) in 971 during the Song Dynasty. "Guangnan East" is the source of "Guangdong". "Guang" means "Expanse".

During the Yuan Dynasty, it was a part of Jiangxi. Its present name, "Guangdong Province" was given during the Qing Dynasty.

Hainan was originally part of Guangdong but was separated in the 1980s.


Guangdong faces the South China Sea to the south. 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: 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 1600 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 Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai[?], Shunde[?], Dongguan[?], Foshan[?], and Zhongshan. Other cities include Chaozhou, Shantou[?], Zhanjiang[?], and Shaoguan[?].


After the communist takeover 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. It has three of the four Special Economic Zones.


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 Mian[?], Li, and Zhuang.

The Cantonese language, rather than the official Mandarin language, serves as the lingua franca for 60,000,000 or so Cantonese speaking various dialects. Minnan and Hakka dialects are also spoken. Mandarin is taught in school and understood by majority of the population.

Owing to the closeness of Guangdong to the ocean, it is 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. Emmigration in recent years has slowed due to the relatively good economy in the province, and Guangdong is a major destination of the floating population[?] from more northern provinces.

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 Macao have historically been part of Guangdong, the basic laws of both special administrative regions (SAR) explicit forbid provinical 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.



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