Guangzhou (广州 Guǎngzhōu, traditional name:Canton, or just simply GZ) is the capital of Guangdong Province in southernChina.
According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 12.7 million, making it the third largest city in China after Shanghai andBeijing. It is a part of the Pearl River Delta, which also includes Shenzhen, Dongguan,Hong Kong, Macau, Foshan, Jiangmen,Huizhou, Zhongshan and Zhuhai.
In the era of tea clippers, Guangzhou was known in the West as "Canton". The food and the language of the area are still known as "Cantonese" and it is perfectly acceptable to use either the western or Chinese terms interchangeably. The Cantonese are proud and hard working people known throughout China and the world over for their famous cuisine and talent for business. One thing you will notice in Guangzhou's city centre is that there isn't much of the horn-honking cacophony that is present in other Chinese cities. Cantonese drivers seem to follow the rules of the road a bit more than in other cities where it is generally more chaotic.
The city is famous for foreign trade and business doings, and holds China's largest trade fair, the Canton Fair. However, in between the seemingly endless skyscrapers, shopping malls and building sites there is a lot of culture and history. While Guangzhou is not usually high on the list of Asian tourist destinations, it is amazing how much the city actually has to offer.
|POPULATION :||• Sub-provincial city 13,080,500|
• Urban 11,264,800
• Metro (2013) 23,900,000
|TIME ZONE :||China standard time (UTC+8)|
|LANGUAGE :||Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)|
|RELIGION :||Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%; note: officially atheist|
|AREA :||• Sub-provincial city 7,434.4 km2 (2,870 sq mi)|
• Urban 3,843.43 km2 (1,483.95 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||21 m (68 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||23°08′N 113°16′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 51.83|
• Female: 48.17
|ETHNIC :||Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5%|
|AREA CODE :||20|
|POSTAL CODE :||510000|
|DIALING CODE :||+ 86 (0)20|
At first sight, Guangzhou appears less as a city that is developing than one that is about to explode. Every corner seems to be packed with high-rise buildings, overpasses, and people running marathons. It can be overwhelming, and the initial instinct of many visitors is to leave as soon as possible. However, those that overcome this urge and stay around will discover a gentler and more personable side to the city.
As a major entry point for overseas culture for many centuries, foreigners are not the anomaly here that they are in other Chinese cities. Consequently, travellers are afforded more personal space and freedom. In addition, tucked away in the back streets, the old Guangzhou of traditional neighbourhoods still moves at an age-old pace, with families and friends often sitting outdoors enjoying tea and banter.
Guangzhou also has the largest urban park in China, an island of refurbished colonial buildings and some world class galleries and exhibition spaces. In addition, possibly due to the distance from the country's political centres, the citizens of Guangzhou have developed a laid-back and play-hard approach to life.
Today, Guangzhou is recognized as one of China's most prosperous, liberal, and cosmopolitan cities. However, despite being an international trading hub, there is still a lack of English signs. Outside of the business districts and tourist areas, very few locals converse well in English. It is highly recommended to bring a phrasebook. Navigating Guangzhou without a phrasebook or understanding of the language will prove to be a difficult task.
Guangzhou is often negatively referred to as the Los Angeles of China, thanks to its sprawl of highways, shopping malls, smog, traffic jams, diverse population and its comparatively high crime-rate. Despite claims of Guangzhou being a dangerous city, it is not dangerous at all, in comparison to any large western city.
Guangzhou's earliest recorded name is Panyu (Chinese: 蕃禺; pinyin: Pānyú; Jyutping:Pun1 Jyu4), derived from two nearby mountains known as Pan and Yu in ancient times.Its recorded history begins with China's conquest of the area during the Qin dynasty. Panyu expanded when it became capital of the Nanyue Kingdom in 206 BC; the territory of Nanyue included what is now northern Vietnam.
The Han dynasty annexed the Nanyue Kingdom in 111 BC during the empire's expansion southward, and Panyu became a provincial capital and remains so today. In AD 226, Panyu became the seat of Guang Prefecture (廣州/广州, Guǎngzhōu or 廣府/广府, Guǎngfǔ).
Although Guangzhou replaced Panyu as the name of the walled city, Panyu was still the name of the surrounding area until the end of Qing dynasty. Today, Panyu is a district of Guangzhou south of Haizhu District separated from the rest of the city by the Pearl River.
The Old Book of Tang described Guangzhou as important port in the south of China.In that period, direct routes connected the Middle East and China. A Chinese prisoner, who was captured in the Battle of Talas and stayed in what is now Iraq for twelve years, returned to China by ship on a direct route from Iraq to Guangzhou.Guangzhou was mentioned by various Muslim geographers in the ninth and tenth centuries, such as Al-Masudi and Ibn Khordadbeh. Guangzhou was known as Khanfu خانفو by the Arabs.According to a local Guangzhou government report, the city was sacked by Muslims on October 30, 758. The Arab historian Abu Zayd as-Sirafi mentioned Guangzhou several times in his book The Journey of as-Sirafi (Arabic: رحلة السيرافي), providing a description of daily life, food, business dealings, and the justice system of the city. As-Sirafi also reports that in 878 followers of the Chinese rebel leader Huang Chao besieged Guangzhou and massacred a large number of foreign merchants residing there. The foreign merchants were Arab Muslims, Persians, Jews and Christians.
During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Guangzhou was the capital of the Southern Han state which existed from 917 to 971, and was one of the most stable of the southern states. The region enjoyed considerable cultural and economic success in this period.
From the tenth to twelfth century, Persian women were to be found in Guangzhou. Multiple women originating from the Persian Gulf lived in Guangzhou's foreign quarter. Some scholars did not differentiate between Persian and Arab, calling them both "Dashi" (Chinese: 大食; pinyin: Dàshí), and some say that the Chinese called all women coming from the Persian Gulf "Persian Women".
The Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta visited Guangzhou in the 14th century in his journey around the world. He described the manufacturing process of large ships in the city.
During the Northern Song dynasty, the celebrated poet Su Shi (Shisu) visited Guangzhou's Baozhuangyan Temple and wrote the inscription "Liu Rong" (Six Banyan Trees) because of the six banyan trees he saw there. It has since been called the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Guangzhou by sea, when explorer Jorge Álvares landed in May 1513, establishing a monopoly on the external trade out of its harbour by 1517.They were later expelled from their settlements in Guangzhou (Cantão in Portuguese), but instead were granted use of Macau as a trade base with the city in 1557. They would keep a near monopoly on foreign trade in the region until the arrival of the Dutch in the early 17th century.
17th through 19th centuries
It is believed that the romanisation "Canton" originated from the Portuguese: Cantão, which was transcribed from Guangdong (also pronounced Kanton in Japanese). Nevertheless, because at the time of thePortuguese arrival, the capital city had no specific appellation other than the provincial capital (Chinese: 省城; pinyin: shěng chéng; Jyutping: Shaang2 Sheng4) by its people, the province name was adopted for the walled city by the Europeans. The etymology of Canton, as well as the similar pronunciation with the province name Guangdong, might have partly contributed to the recent confusion of Canton and Guangdong by some English speakers.
In Guangzhou, the national monuments known as "The Muslim's Loyal Trio" are the tombs of Ming-loyalist Muslims who were martyred while fighting in battle against the Qing in Guangzhou.
After China gained control of Taiwan in 1683, the Qing government became more open to foreign trade. Guangzhou quickly emerged as one of the most suitable ports for international trade and before long ships arrived from all over the world.
The Portuguese in Macau, the Spanish in Manila, Arabs from the Middle East and Muslims from India were already actively trading in the port by the 1690s, when the French and English began frequenting the port through the Canton System.
Other companies were soon to follow: the Ostend General India company in 1717;Dutch East India Company in 1729; the first Danish ship in 1731, which was followed by a Danish Asiatic Company ship in 1734; the Swedish East India Companyin 1732; followed by an occasional Prussian and Trieste Company ship; the Americans in 1784; and the first ships from Australia in 1788.
By the middle of the 18th century, Guangzhou had emerged as one of the world's great trading ports under the Thirteen Factories agreement.As a meeting place of merchants from all over the world, the trade in Canton was one of the major contributors to the rise of the modern global economy.
The Canton system of trade was maintained until the outbreak of the First Opium Warin 1839 and the opening of other ports in China in 1842. The privilege during this period made Guangzhou one of the top three cities in the world. During the war, the British captured Canton on March 18, 1841. The Second Battle of Canton was fought in May 1841.
From 1855 to 1867 there were a series of battles between the Punti and Hakka peoples known as the Punti-Hakka Clan Wars (土客械鬥/土客械斗).
The plague epidemic—part of the Third Pandemic—reached Guangzhou in 1894, causing the death of 60,000 people in a few weeks. In 1918, the city's urban council was established by carving out eastern part of Nanhai County and northern part of Panyu County and Guangzhou became the official name of the city in Chinese in February 15, 1921. Panyu became a county name to the southern side of Guangzhou and same with Nanhai on the western side.
Japanese troops occupied Guangzhou from October 21, 1938, to September 16, 1945, after bombing the city. The Imperial Japanese Army conducted bacteriological research in Guangzhou under Unit 8604, a section of Unit 731.
After the fall of the capital Nanjing in April 1949, the Nationalist government under the acting president Li Zongren relocated to Guangzhou.
Communist forces entered the city on October 14, 1949. The Nationalists blew up the Haizhu Bridge, an important passage across the Pearl River, in order to slow the Communist advance and allow the government to flee to Chongqing. The communist government soon renamed the city's English name to "Guangzhou". A massive exodus followed as many fled to nearby Hong Kong and Macau, and the provincial capital's international status dwindled. The urban renewal projects of the new communist government improved the lives of some residents. New housing on the shores of the Pearl River provided homes for the poor boat people. Reforms by Deng Xiaoping, who came to power in the late 1970s, led to rapid economic growth due to the city's close proximity to Hong Kong and access to the Pearl River.
As labour costs increased in Hong Kong and China liberalized its economy,manufacturers opened new plants in Guangdong, including Guangzhou. As the largest city in one of China's wealthiest provinces, Guangzhou attracts farmers from the countryside looking for factory work. Cantonese links to overseas Chinese and beneficial tax reforms in the 1990s contributed to the city's rapid growth.
In 2000, Huadu and Panyu were merged into Guangzhou as districts, and Conghua and Zengcheng became county-level cities of Guangzhou.
When to visit
In terms of climate, the best time to visit Guangzhou is between October and November. Alternatively, April and May are also good months. Guangzhou has a sub-tropical climate with humidity levels at their highest in the summer. Temperatures can reach almost 40 degrees Celsius. Typhoon season is from June to September. Please note that the Canton Fair takes place annually during the Weeks from Mid-April to Early May and Mid-October to Early November, so finding accommodation at those times can be difficult and expensive.
Climate data for Guangzhou
|Record high °C (°F)||27.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||18.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||13.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||10.3|
Located in the south-central portion of Guangdong, Guangzhou spans from 112° 57' to 114° 03' E longitude and 22° 26' to 23° 56' N latitude. The Pearl River (Zhujiang), the third largest river of China, runs through Guangzhou and is navigable to the South China Sea.The city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the city centre is situated next to the Baiyun Mountain, which is locally referred to as "the lung of the city" (市肺). The total area under the city's administration is 7,434.4 square kilometres (2,870.4 sq mi).
The elevation of the prefecture generally increases from southwest to northeast, with mountains forming the backbone of the city, and the ocean comprising the front.Tiantang Peak (天堂顶, meaning Peak of Paradise in Chinese), which stands 1,210 metres (3,970 ft) above sea level, is the highest mountain in Guangzhou.
Guangzhou is the main manufacturing hub of the Pearl River Delta, one of mainland China's leading commercial and manufacturing regions. In 2013, the GDP reached ¥1542 billion (US$248 billion), per capita was ¥120,515 (US $19,459).
The China Import and Export Fair, also called the "Canton Fair", is held every year in April and October by the Ministry of Trading. Inaugurated in the spring of 1957, the fair is a major event for the city. From the 104th session onwards, the fair moved to the new Pazhou complex, from the older Liuhua complex. The Pazhou complex is served by two stations on Metro Line 8. Since the 104th session, the Canton Fair has been arranged in three phases instead of two phases.
Guangzhou is one the largest hubs of the illegal drug trade in China.
- Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone
- Guangzhou Nansha Export Processing Zone
The Export Processing Zone was founded in 2005. Its total planned area is 1.36 km2(0.53 sq mi). It is located in Nansha District and it belongs to the provincial capital, Guangzhou. The major industries encouraged in the zone include automobile assembly, biotechnology and heavy industry. It is situated 54 km (70 minutes drive) south of Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and close to Nansha Port. It also has the advantage of Guangzhou Metro line 4 which is being extended to Nansha Ferry Terminal.
- Guangzhou Free Trade Zone
The zone was founded in 1992. It is located in the east of Huangpu District and near to Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone. It is also very close to Guangzhou Baiyun Airport.The major industries encouraged in the zone include international trade, logistics, processing and computer software. Guangzhou is considered one of the most prosperous cities in China. But due to rapid industrialization, it is also considered one of the most polluted cities.
After the restructuring in 2014, there are 11 districts in Guangzhou. Among them, Liwan, Yuexiu, Tianhe and Haizhu are the city's core.
- Liwan (荔湾 Lìwān) — The part on the north of the pearl river is the old Guangzhou. Tourist highlights include the colonial Shamian Island, Xiguan Old Houses, Xiangxiajiu shopping districts and Chen's Clan Academy.
- Yuexiu (越秀 Yuèxiù) — This is the political and cultural centre and includes the oldDongshan (东山, Dōngshān) area. Highlights include Yuexiu Park, Beijing Lu Shopping District, and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall.
- Tianhe (天河 Tiānhé) — This is the new city center and business district. It is thriving with many new developments, including skyscrapers, stadium, grand shopping malls. It is also home to the oldest urban village Shipai as well as most expat communities. The district serves as a transportation hub for the international airport and train to Hong Kong. Highlights include Guangdong Museum, Central Library, Opera House and Shipai village.
- Haizhu (海珠 Hǎizhū) — Located south of the Pearl River, the district is becoming more business focused, particularly in real estate and trading. Locals refer to this part of Guangzhou as Henan, meaning south of the river. Highlights include the Canton Tower, the Canton Fair Pazhou Exhibition Center, Sun Yat-Sen University, and the Pearl River Promenade.
- Baiyun (白云 Báiyún) — This district has a big rural touch, but is slowly being taken over by new developments. Highlights include the Baiyun Mountain.
- Huangpu (黄埔 Huángpǔ) — Not well known among foreign tourists, this district is to the east of the city center. Highlights include the former Huangpu Military Academy. Luogang (萝岗) District, which was cancelled in 2014, also became a part of Huangpu District.
- Panyu (番禺 Pānyú) — This is the new area and it focuses on technology and economic development. Highlights include the Lianhua Mountain, various theme parks and the University Mega Center.
- Huadu (花都 Huādū) — This is a developing industrial area. Highlights include Huadu Square and the New Baiyun International Airport.
- Nansha (南沙 Nánshā) — This is an industrial area at the southern tip of the city. It is the new home to the high speed rail station.
- Zengcheng (增城 Zēngchéng) is famous for its lychee fruit, which are picked in June and July.
- Conghua (从化 Cónghuà) is known for its hot springs and Tianhe (Heavenly Lake) Recreation area.
The main tourist areas and metropolitan areas are in the northern part of the city and they include Liwan, Yuexiu, Tianhe and Haizhu.
- The area dialing code for Guangzhou is 020. From overseas, dial +86 20 XXXX-XXXX. Phone numbers are 8 digits. Mobile numbers are 11 digits and city code is not required when dialing from within Guangzhou. From outside of Guangzhou, add 0 before the number (0 XXX-XXX-XXXXX). From overseas, dial +86 XXX-XXX-XXXXX.
- Tourism Administration of Guangzhou Municipality (广州市旅游局) [www] 13-15/F, 140 Dongfeng West Road. (东风西路140号13-15楼). +86 20 8107-8200.
- Complimentary wi-fi is offered throughout national Airport via SSID "AIRPORT-WIFI-FREE."
- Internet cafes are common in major Chinese cities, though are often the target of government crackdowns. Popular ones in Guangzhou include:
- Worldwide Network on Jiangsu Road
- the famous elite cafe Sparkice (实华开) in Central Plaza on Huaihai Middle Road
- China Mayors Plaza (市长大厦). 189 Tianhe North Road (天河北路189号)
- Budget Internet Cafe on Fuzhou Road
- Police: The Public Security Bureau Exit-Entry Administration Division is located at 155 Jiefang South Road (解放南路155号) +86 20 8311-5808 (M-F 8:50AM–11:30AM, 2:30PM-5PM.) You can get your visa extension done here.
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