Dongguan is a prefecture-level city in central Guangdong Province of South China. An important industrial city in the Pearl River Delta, Dongguan borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou to the north, Huizhou to the northeast, Shenzhen to the south, and the Pearl River to the west. It is part of the Pearl River Delta megacity with more than 44.78 million inhabitants at the 2010 census spread over nine municipalities (including Macao) across an area of 17,573 square kilometres (6,785 sq mi). Dongguan's city administration is considered especially progressive in seeking foreign direct investment.[who?] Dongguan ranks behind only Shenzhen, Shanghai and Suzhou in exports among Chinese cities, with $65.54 billion in shipments. It is also home to one of the world's largest, though largely empty, shopping malls, the New South China Mall. The majority of the population speak Mandarin due to migrants from other parts of the country.
Although the earliest traces of human habitation in the area stretch back 5,000 years, Dongguan's emergence as a true city is a recent phenomenon.
In 1839, at the outset of the First Opium War, large quantities of seized opium were destroyed in Humen, a town that now belongs to Dongguan. Several of the major battles of the war were fought in this area.
During the Second World War, the city served as the base for guerrilla resistance against the Japanese occupation.
Being a district of the Huiyang prefecture before, as it's economy overshadowed the prefectural capital of Huizhou itself, Dongguan earned city status in 1985, and was upgraded to prefecture city status three years later. During this period the city changed its focus from an agricultural town into a manufacturing hub, with an average annual growth of up to 18%.
The city ranked 13th in Forbes China's listing of the most innovative mainland cities, as well as 18th in Foreign Policy's listing of the most dynamic cities in the world.
Geographically, the city is mostly hilly to the east and flat in the west, with 115.98 kilometres (72.07 mi) of shoreline. The urban centre of Dongguan is 50 kilometres (31 mi) from that of Guangzhou to its north, 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Shenzhen to its south, 47 nautical miles (87 km) from Hong Kong and 48 nautical miles (89 km) from Macau by waterway. It is positioned in the middle of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen economic corridor, a hub for both land and sea transport.
Of Dongguan's total area, 27% is water, 25% forest land, and 13% arable land, while 35% of its land area has been fully developed.