Traversed by the Tropic of Cancer, Guangdong Province lies in south China, between 108°13' and 119°59'E and 3°28' and 25°31'N. Its jurisdiction covers a mainland region together with a number of islands scattered over the South China Sea.
The main dialect is Cantonese, which is spoken mainly in the west and north of the province, while the Hakka dialect will be heard in the north and Fujian in the eastern coastal region.Guangdong is distinguished by mountainous country, which in the north is separated from the Changjiang river valley by the 2000m/6600ft high Nanling Mountains, and by flatlands at the mouth of the Xijiang and on the Leizhou peninsula.The monsoon climate is typical of tropical and subtropical areas of China. Temperatures often climb as high as 40°C (104°F), and most of the rain falls during the summer months, when Guangdong is often struck by typhoons.Under the Qin Emperor Shi Huangdi (reigned 221-210 BC), at a time when Guangdong was inhabited by minority peoples and not by the Han, some areas of the province became part of the Chinese Empire, which subsequently swallowed up the whole region during the Han period (206 BC-AD 220). As a result of its coastal situation foreign influences have been evident here ever since the Tang period (618-907), when a mosque was built in Canton. Trade with other countries developed considerably until the 12th C. At that time, and in the centuries which followed, many Han came to Guangdong. From the 16th C onwards European influence began to be felt in Guangdong; in 1553 Macau became Portuguese, in 1841-42 Hong Kong was taken over by the British and in 1898 Canton came under French administration. Large numbers of people emigrated to southeast Asia and North America, and half of the Chinese overseas population hailed originally from Guangdong.Guangdong is China's richest province, and produces an eighth of the country's total income. In 1992 it showed a growth rate of about 19 per cent; local investment grew by 35 per cent and almost one-half of overseas investments in China were made in the province. Its proximity to Hong Kong and Macau aided its economic growth.
Shantou lies on the South China Sea, in the east of the Guangdon province, some 450km/279mi to the east of the provincial capital of Canton.As with other cities in the Guangdong province the origins of Shantou are uncertain. The only fact which is definitely known is that the city was already an important center with a lucrative ceramic industry during the Song period (960-1279).Throughout the centuries the local ceramic craftsmen developed a unique style. The decoration was carried out with particular care, even before the application of separately fired layers of glaze.In the previous centuries the importance of the city grew with the construction of a port.At present Shantou is one of China's special economic areas which in return for the promotion of foreign trade and economic co-operation with other countries has been granted a whole range of privileges.
Bordering on Hong Kong, Shenzhen lies to the south of the provincial capital of Canton, in the midst of beautiful scenery.Until 1979 Shenzhen was only a small village with a few streets, four factories and about a dozen shops. Then the central government transformed it into a special center for trade and industry, which led to an economic boom. The signs of rapid growth are everywhere. Old districts are being demolished and new buildings appear almost out of thin air - shopping and office complexes, as well as numerous hotels and holiday villages catering for the increasing flow of tourists - with inevitable consequences for the cityscape.
In the Splendid China (Jinxiu Zonghua) beach park, which extends over 20km/12mi to the east of the city on the banks of Dapeng Bay, the best known of the Chinese natural and architectural monuments have been reproduced. In addition, in the adjacent Cultural Folk Village, miniature villages of nearly all the 56 Chinese nationalities have been set up.The park has also been equipped for bathing, and holiday houses can be rented in the immediate vicinity.
Xili Holiday Village
32km/21mi to the northwest of Shenzhen, on the banks of the Xili lake, is the Xili holiday village (Xili Dujiacun) which is surrounded by a covered walk. It includes a place for barbecues, a rifle range, a revolving restaurant situated on a beautiful slope and several secluded villas.Included in the attractions of the holiday village are Unicorn Hill (Qilingshan) and the Water Paradise (Shuishang Leyun).
Zhuhai lies to the west of the mouth of the Xijiang river, just north of Macau.Zhuhai's historical town center embraces 104 small islands which have much to offer in the way of leisure activities and beautiful scenery.Until the mid-1900s Zhuhai was just a minor township forming part of a larger town. It was 1953 before it became administratively autonomous. In 1979 central government decided to establish a Special Economic Zone here; this meant a freer economic policy and a more flexible form of administration. Since then Zhuhai has enjoyed enormous economic and urban growth.
The Beach Park (Haibun Gongyuan) in the east-central part of the town lies in the shadow of Mount Shijingshan. It is also known as Incense Bay because at one time, before going out fishing, fishermen would burn incense here in order to seek the protection of the gods.Today the beach with its fine silver sand offers much in the way of modern bathing facilities.
A popular place for outings and excursions is the ''Stone Zoo'', in the center of town west of Beach Park. Here visitors can see 22 stone formations shaped like animals, including elephants, rhinos, snakes and various other beasts.
Zhanjiang lies in the south of Guangdong province.Although still quite a young town Zhanjiang has already experienced many adversities in its short history. In 1898 it was occupied by the French and in 1943 by the Japanese. In 1945 the Chinese again took control.In 1984, together with fourteen other harbor towns, it was opened up to international trade.
Lake Huguangyan, of volcanic origin and lying 20km/12.5mi southwest of the town, covers an area of 3.6sq.km/1.4sq.mi. Its banks are studded with a number of old monuments and buildings, including the well- known Lengyan Monastery (Lengyan Si) from the Song period (960-1279). Above this temple towers a large rock on which Li Gang (1083-1140) - who occupied a number of important posts under the Song dynasty and was made chancellor - wrote the name of the lake in three Chinese characters.