Guangdong Province, bordering on the South China Sea, is located in the southernmost of China’s mainland. It adjoins Fujian Province on the east, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces on the north and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the west, with Hong Kong and Macou lying to its south respectively on the east and west banks of the Pearl River estury. It covers an area of about 180,000 square kilometers of land and 420,000 square kilometers of sea with a total population of 94,500,000.
Located on the subtropical zone, Guangdong enjoys a mild climate and a rich rainfall, with an average annual temperate of 22.3℃ centigrade and a rainfall of 1,700 mm.
With Guangzhou as its capital, Guangdong Province now has jurisdiction over 21 prefecture-level cities, among which Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou are the three earliest
Economic Special Zones opened to the outside world. Four prefectural cities-Chaozhou, Meizhou, Foshan and Zhaoqin-enjoy a reputation of “National Historical and Cultural City”.Moreover, there are still 19 cities or counties that have been awarded with the honorable title of “National Excellent Tourism City”.
During the Pre-Qin period, Guangdong area was inhabited by the NanYue ethnic people. Qin unified South China in 219 A.D. and set up Guilin, Xiangjun and Nanhai prefectures. Today’s Guangzhou is where the Nanhai Prefecture was located.
At the beginning of the Western Han Dynasy, a former Qin commanding general, Zhao Tuo by name, founded the first local state in the presentday Guangdong area, the Kingdom of Nanyue, thus promoting the fusion between the Han and the Yue ethnics and accelerating the social, economic and cultural progress in South China. Under the Wu Kingdom of the Three Kingdoms period, the region to the north of Hepu was named Guangzhou, which ruled the Nanhai, Changwu and Yulin prefectures. Hence, the name of “Guangzhou” came into being. At that time, China’s foreign trade channel starting from Panyu was established, which is the origin of the Maritime Silk Road.
In Ming Dynasty, Guangdong became one of the 13 provinces. The early Qing Dynasty inherited Ming’s system and set up Guangdong Province. The name of “Guangdong” was officially adopted. The government of Qing established Guangdong Customs in Guangzhou, which is the first official establishment of customs in the history of our country. The late Qing Dynasty witnessed the birth of national capitalism and national industry, and the “Westernization Movement” in which the Chinese people learned from the West in search of a road of wealth and power. With Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao as the leading exponents, the Bourgeois reformists wrote books to disseminate their ideas and popularize their reformist thoughts, which were
gradually developed into a political practice, and eventually led to a capitalist reform movement. Guangdong is also the original place of China’s modern revolution. Sun Yat-sen from Xiangshan county led and founded the first bourgeois political party in China: the Tong Meng
Hui(Revolutionary League). He led the Huanghua Gang Uprising, the Law-Protecting Movement and also successfully achieved the First Cooperation of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang. Sun Yat-sen was honored as “the Forerunner of Democratic Revolution” and “Father of the Republic of China”.
Since the 1980s, Guangdong, a place propitious for giving birth to great men, was the first province to open to the outside world and quickly became one of the most economically
developed regions in China, with an average per capita GDP exceeding 4000 US dollars. People’s living standard for the time reached the comparatively well-off level. Guangzhou Trade Fairs, established in 1957 and held in every April and October, is known as the “NO.1 Exhibition of China”.
The Pearl River Delta today has attained fruitful attainments. It has entered a new era of vigorous development.
In the long process of historical development, the unique Lingnan(the area covering Guangdong and Guangxi) culture has formed after the exchange, clash, and fusion of various cultures. In Guangdong Province, there exist three groups of people: Guangfu, Chao-shan, Kakka, which are corresponding to Guangfu culture, Chao-shan culture and Kakka culture respectively. The Guangfu group appeared the earliest, which lives in the Pearl River Delta and some other counties and cities in the middle and west part of Guangdong Province. The Kakka group can best reflect the fusion and transformation between Lingnan culture and Central Plain culture. It is distributed mainly over Meizhou region. The Kakkas have inherited the fine tradition from the Central Plain culture, such as practicing frugality, self-esteem and self-reliance, showing respect to teachers and attaching great importance to education. The Chao-shan group mainly lives in Chaozhou and Shantou. Chao-shan people are adventurous, innovative and ingenious. The significant feature distinguishing the three groups is their different dialects, that is, the
“Baihua”(the plain language) based on Guangzhou dialect, the Kakka language based on Meizhou dialect and the Chao-shan language based on Shantou local dialect. The minorities of Guangdong are distributed mainly in places like Liannan and Ruyuan districts. Local customs such as the Getang (the Singing Meet) and the Wooden Handle Lion of Yao nationality, the Eighth of April Festival and the Ox King Birthday Celebration of Zhuang nationality, as well as the Third of March Festival and the Second of February Festival of She nationality are of unique flavor. As a vehicle of Lingnan culture, the architectures in Guangdong are also distinctive. Folk buildings unique to the region all present distinct Lingnan characteristics, for example, the Xiguan big house and the arcaded building, the Hakka circular houses; buildings of social institutions, such as the Temple of South China Sea God, Foshan Ancestral Temple, the Chen Family Temple and the Panyu Academy; buildings of world cultural heritage such as the Kaiping watchtowers, and buildings for city defense such as the Xinhui Yanmen artillery fort and the Guangzhou Zhenhai Tower. The Lingnan garden, represented by Qinghui Garden, Ke Garden and
Yuyinshanfang Garden, together with Northern Garden and Suzhou Garden, are reputed as the “three major landscape gardens in China.”
The folk culture of Guangdong has strong regional features. The Cantonese Opera, Chao Opera and Opera are locally popular. The Lingnan art of potted landscape and bonsai is numbered as one of the five major styles in the country. Folk dance, dragon dance, lion dance and dragon boating all display special Lingnan flavors. Guangdong Embroidery, together with Suzhou Embroidery, Hunan Embroidery and Sichuan Embroidery, is known as one of the four famous embroideries in China. Guangdong ceramics, consisting of Guangzhou decorative porcelain, Shiwan pottery and Fengxi earthenware, had found a market overseas as early as the Tang
Dynasty. The delicate and exquisite Guangdong carving, including ivory carving, jade carving and wood carving, attains to unrivalled workmanship. Special crafts of Guangdong, such as Duan Ink-stone in Zhaoqing, paper-cut and lion-head making in Foshan, palm-leaf handicraft in Xinhui and lacquerware in Yang, boast a long history and extremely high craftsmanship.
Guangzhou cuisine is one of the four major cuisines in China. As a Chinese saying goes, “to enjoy the best that life has to offer, one has to eat in Guangdong”. Guangdong cuisine consists of Guangzhou, Chaozhou and Dongjiang dishes. Guangzhou dishes are characterized by being light, fresh, tender, tasty and crisp. They are particular about color, aroma, taste and appearance. Chaozhou dishes excel in sea food, and especially in soup. Dongjiang dishes, also known as
Hakka dishes, using much meats for preparation, tend to be greasy and slightly salty. Of them, the most special is the earthenware pot casserole. Apart from the four major dishes, the great variety of local delicacies also enjoys great fame all over China.
The natural tourism resources of Guangdong are also varied and many. Among them, there is Mount Danxia, named World Geology Park by UNESCO; Yangchun Lingxiao Cave and
Zhaoqing Seven-star Crags, known for their karst landform; Ten-mile Silver Beach on Hailing Island in Yang that has entered the Guinness Record for its expanse; Nansha
Newly-reclaimed Wetland Park in Guangzhou, a large-scale wetland reserve for mangrove;
Conghua Hotspring, Enping Hotspring and Zhuhai Imperial Hotspring, all effective in stimulating blood circulation and relaxing muscles and joints, providing skin care and keeping fit; Seven-star Crags and Mount Dinghu, listed in the first national places of interest; famous waterfalls such as Panlong Gorge Waterfall in Deqing, Baishuizhai Waterfall in Zeng Cheng, Mawei Waterfall at Mount Daxia; other special scenic spots such as the Small Three Gorges of Xijiang River, the Huangteng Gorge Drifting in Qingyuan, the underground river in Lianzhou, the Juren Village at Xiema, and Lingnan Water Country at Minzhong; and a large number of forest parks including Liuxi River Forest Part, Mount Xiqiao Forest Park Nanling National Forest Park, Nankunshan Forest Park, and Shimen Forest Bathing Place…
Guangdong is a major tourism province in China. In 2008, its tourism income witnessed a total of 246.1 billion RMB yuan, accounting roughly for one fourth of the general national tourism income. Over a hundred million inbound tourists visited the province in this year. With 9.1 billion US dollars of foreign exchange earnings from tourism, the province ranked first in the whole country. According to the data up to the end of 2008, there are over 6,900 tourist restaurants, 410,000 guest rooms, and 770,000 beds in the whole province. Guangdong is currently making great strides in building a strong tourism province.
With its long history, splendid culture, special folk customs, abundant tourist resources, its first-rate modern tourist facilities and hospitable people, the Guangdong of today is sure to strike you as more than worth a visit!