Guangzhou (simplified Chinese: 广州; traditional Chinese: 廣州; Cantonese pronunciation: [kʷɔ̌ːŋ.tsɐ̂u̯] or [kʷɔ̌ːŋ.tsɐ́u̯] (About this sound listen); Mandarin pronunciation: [kwàŋ.ʈʂóu] (About this sound listen)), traditionally romanised as Canton, is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong in southern China. Located on the Pearl River about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, Guangzhou has a history of over 2,200 years and was a major terminus of the maritime Silk Road and continues to serve as a major port and transportation hub today.
Guangzhou is situated at the heart of the most-populous built-up metropolitan area in mainland China, an area that extends into the neighboring cities of Foshan, Dongguan, and Shenzhen, forming one of the largest urban agglomerations on the planet. Administratively, the city holds sub-provincial status; and is one of China's five National Central Cities. In 2015 the city's administrative area was estimated to have a population of 13,501,100. Guangzhou is ranked as an Alpha- Global city. In recent years, there has been a rapidly increasing number of foreign residents and illegal immigrants from Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, as well as from Africa. This has led to it being dubbed the "Capital of the Third World" by at least one Chinese journal though this phrase is not commonly used in China itself. The migrant population from other provinces of China in Guangzhou was 40 percent of the city's total population in 2008.
Together with Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, Guangzhou is one of the most expensive first tier cities of China (as of 2017).
Guangzhou has a comparatively recent history of two centuries related to its importance for foreign trade. Long the only Chinese port accessible to foreign traders, the city fell to the British during the First Opium War. No longer enjoying a monopoly after the war, it lost trade to other ports such as Hong Kong (which is close by) and Shanghai, but continued to serve as a major entrepôt. In modern commerce, Guangzhou is best known for its annual Canton Fair, the oldest and largest trade fair in China. For the three consecutive years 2013–2015, Forbes ranked Guangzhou as the best commercial city on the Chinese mainland.
Communist troops entering Guangzhou on 14 October 1949
Amid the closing months of the Chinese Civil War, Guangzhou briefly served as the capital of the Republic of China after the fall of Nanjing to communism in April 1949. The People's Liberation Army entered the city on 14 October 1949. Amid a massive exodus to Hong Kong and Macau, the Nationalists blew up the Haizhu Bridge across the Pearl River in retreat. The Cultural Revolution had a large effect on the city with much of its temples, churches and other monuments destroyed during this chaotic period.
The People's Republic of China initiated building projects including new housing on the banks of the Pearl River to adjust the city's boat people to life on land. Since the 1980s, the city's close proximity to Hong Kong and Shenzhen and its ties to overseas Chinese have made it one of the first beneficiaries of China's opening up under Deng Xiaoping. Beneficial tax reforms in the 1990s have also helped the city's industrialisation and development.
The municipality was expanded in the year 2000, with Huadu and Panyu joining the city as urban districts and Conghua and Zengcheng as more rural counties. The former districts of Dongshan and Fangcun were abolished in 2005, merged into Yuexiu and Liwan respectively. The city acquired Nansha and Luogang. The former was carved out of Panyu, the latter from parts of Baiyun, Tianhe, Zengcheng, and an exclave within Huangpu. The National People's Congress approved a development plan for the Pearl River Delta in January 2009; on March 19 the same year, the Guangzhou and Foshan municipal governments agreed to establish a framework to merge the two cities. In 2014, Luogang merged into Huangpu and both Conghua and Zengcheng counties were upgraded to districts. Guangzhou was then the most populous consolidated district-governed city in China until Beijing overtook it the next year.
The old town of Guangzhou was near Baiyun Mountain on the east bank of the Pearl River (Zhujiang) about 80 miles (129 km) from its junction with the South China Sea and about 300 miles (483 km) below its head of navigation. It commanded the rich alluvial plain of the Pearl River Delta, with its connection to the sea protected at the Humen Strait. The present city spans 7,434.4 square kilometres (2,870.4 sq mi) on both sides of the river from 112° 57′ to 114° 03′ E longitude and 22° 26′ to 23° 56′ N latitude in south-central Guangdong. The Pearl is the 3rd-largest river of China. Baiyun Mountain is now locally referred to as the city's "lung" (市肺).
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, "Heavenly Peak") is the highest point of elevation at 1,210 metres (3,970 ft) above sea level.
There are 47 different types of minerals and also 820 ore fields in Guangzhou, including 18 large and medium-sized oil deposits. The major minerals are granite, cement limestone, ceramic clay, potassium, albite, salt mine, mirabilite, nepheline, syenite, fluorite, marble, mineral water, and geothermal mineral water. Since Guangzhou is located in the water-rich area of southern China, it has a wide water area with lots of rivers and water systems, accounting for 10% of the total land area. The rivers and streams improve the landscape and keep the ecological environment of the city stable.
Despite being located just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Guangzhou has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) influenced by the East Asian monsoon. Summers are wet with high temperatures, high humidity, and a high heat index. Winters are mild and comparatively dry. Guangzhou has a lengthy monsoon season, spanning from April through September. Monthly averages range from 13.6 °C (56.5 °F) in January to 28.6 °C (83.5 °F) in July, while the annual mean is 22.6 °C (72.7 °F). Autumn, from October to December, is very moderate, cool and windy, and is the best travel time. The relative humidity is approximately 68 percent, whereas annual rainfall in the metropolitan area is over 1,700 mm (67 in). With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 17 percent in March and April to 52 percent in November, the city receives 1,628 hours of bright sunshine annually, considerably less than nearby Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 0 °C (32 °F) to 39.1 °C (102.4 °F). The last recorded snowfall in the city was on 24 January 2016, 87 years after the second last recorded snowfall.