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Summary Article: Guangdong from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Province of south China, bounded to the north by Hunan and Jiangxi; to the northeast by Fujian; to the south by the South China Sea, Hong Kong (since 1997 an enclave of Guangdong province), Macau, and the island province of Hainan; and to the west by Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; area 197,000 sq km/76,062 sq mi; population (2013 est) 106,440,000. The capital is Guangzhou (previously known as Canton); other major cities are Maoming, Shantou, Shenzhen, and Zhanjiang. The main industries are minerals, electronics, household appliances, and textiles; agriculture is based on rice, sugar, fruit, tobacco, and fish.

From the mid-19th century large numbers of Cantonese (native to Guangdong) emigrated to the USA, Canada, Australia, and South Africa; with the recent development of industry, however, combined with government policies of controlling population numbers, the extent of migration has decreased.

The revolutionary leader Sun Zhong Shan (Sun Yat-sen) (1866–1925) was born near Guangzhou.

Topography The terrain slopes down from the mountains of the north, which reach 1,902 m/6,240 ft at Mount Shikengdong on the border with Hunan, through hills cut by the river valleys of the Zhu Jiang (Pearl) River system, to the coast in the south. The only large areas of low-lying land are in the Zhu Jiang delta region in the centre of Guangdong, and the Leizhou Peninsula in its southwest.

Climate The province has tropical and sub-tropical climates. Winters are mild and frost is rare except on high land. Rainfall is heavy and comes largely in the summer months.

Rural economy The growing season lasts throughout the year and agriculture is both extremely intensive and very varied in its produce. The main crop is rice, two crops of which are possible each year, supplemented by sweet potatoes wherever rice cannot be grown. There is a great variety of subsidiary produce, including tobacco, jute, tropical fruits (particularly bananas), and sugar cane. The natural silk industry is also of importance. The most intensively farmed and populated part of the province is the Pearl River delta. Along the coasts there are fishing and salt industries.

Natural resources In the northern part of the province are important mineral deposits, including tungsten, antimony, and iron ore. Maoming, in the east of the province, has a small field of oil-shale from which oil is produced.

Urban economy In 1979 Guandong, historically a poor province remote from the rest of China, was chosen as the testbed for new economic policies to encourage foreign trade and investment. In addition to the special economic zones of Shenzhen, Shuhai (next to Macau), and Shantou, the Pearl River delta region was designated an open economic area for foreign investment. Aided by its proximity to Hong Kong, labour costs lower than in more developed countries, and the large numbers of overseas Chinese of Guangdong ancestry (Cantonese), investment and trade boomed. A number of industrial firms relocated from Hong Kong and new industries developed: firstly the manufacture of textiles and garments, then the assembly of domestic appliances and electronics.

The influence of this expansion has spread far beyond the original special economic zones to include Guangzhou and many other cities in the delta and coastal regions of the province, such as Dongguan, Foshan, and Huizhou. Guangdong is now China's leading industrial province, producing more domestic appliances and electronics equipment than any other in China; only in heavy industry and petrochemicals do the older industrialized areas maintain their lead. In 1996 Guangdong accounted for 40% of China's exports, but part of its manufacturing output is supplied to the rest of China, where the new consumer society brought about by prosperity has become a model for imitation.

People Although the vast majority of the population consists of Han Chinese, there are also important groups of Hakka peoples who preserve their own language and customs.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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