Guangzhou is, at the moment, the 3rd-largest Chinese city, behind Beijing and Shanghai; holds sub-provincial administrative 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 and forms part of one of the most populous metropolitan agglomerations on Earth. Some estimates place the population of the built-up area of the Pearl River Delta Mega City as high as 44 million without the Hong Kong SAR and 54 million including it. Guangzhou is identified as a Beta+ Global city. In recent years, there has been a rapidly increasing number of foreign residents and illegal immigrants from the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, as well as from Africa. This has led to it being dubbed the "Capital of the Third World".
Guangzhou was long the only Chinese port permitted for most foreign traders. The city proper fell to the British and was opened by the First Opium War. It lost trade to other ports such as Hong Kong andShanghai, but continued to serve as a major entrepôt. In modern commerce, Guangzhou is best known for its annual Canton Fair, the oldest, highest-level, largest-scale and most complete trade fair in China. For the three consecutive years 2013–2015, Forbes ranked Guangzhou as the best commercial city on the Chinese mainland.
NamesGuǎngzhōu is the pinyin romanisation of the Chinese name 廣州, which wassimplified in mainland China to 广州 in the 1950s. This name originally referred to the Imperial Chinese Guang Prefecture. The character 廣 or广—which also appears in the names Guangdong, Guangxi, and Liangguang—means "broad" or "expansive" and refers to the valley of the Pearl River in comparison with the hill country of Hunan and Fujian by which it was reached by the Chinese. In common with many other Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Fuzhou, the seat of the prefecture's government eventually took on its name. It became the municipality's formal designation on 15 February 1921. It is sometimes abbreviated as GZ.
Before the establishment of the prefecture, the town was known as Panyu, a name still borne by one of Guangzhou's districts in the hinterlands. The origin of the name is still uncertain,with 11 various explanations being offered, including that it may have referred to two local mountains. The city has also sometimes been known as Guangzhou Fu or Guangfu after its status as the capital of acommandery. From this latter name, Guangzhou was known to medieval Arabs such as Al-Masudi and Ibn Khordadbeh as Khanfu (خانفو).2] Under the Southern Han, the city was renamed Xingwang. Under the Qing, it was also known to its inhabitants as simply "The Provincial Capital".
The Chinese abbreviation for Guangzhou is 穗, after its nickname "Rice City". As late as the early 20th century, most of the city continued to be made up of rice paddies. The city has long borne the nickname City of Rams or City of the Five Rams from the five stones at the old Temple of the Five Immortals said to have been the sheep or goats ridden by the Taoist culture heroes credited with introducing rice cultivation to the areaaround the time of the city's foundation. The former name "City of the Immortals" came from the same story. The more recent City of Flowers is usually taken as a simple reference to the area's greenery.
The former name "Canton" derived from Portuguese Cantão or Ciudad de Cantão, a muddling of dialectical pronunciations of "Guangdong" (e.g., Hakka Kóng-tûng). Although it originally and chiefly applied to the walled city, it was also used in English in reference to Guangdong generally. It was adopted as the Postal Map Romanization of Guangzhou and remained in common use until the gradual adoption of pinyin. As an adjective, it is still used in describing the people, language, and culture of Guangzhou and Guangdong. The 19th-century name "Kwang-chow Foo" derived from Nanjing Mandarin and the town's status as a prefectural capital.
PrehistoryA settlement now known as Nanwucheng was present in the area by 1100 BC. Some traditional Chinese histories placed Nanwucheng's founding during the reign of Ji Yan, king of Zhou from 314–256 bc. It was said to have consisted of little more than a stockade of bamboo and mud.
Panyu was established on the east bank of the Pearl River in 214 bcto serve as a base for the Qin Empire's first failed invasion of the Baiyue lands in southern China. Legendary accounts claimed the soldiers at Panyu were so vigilant that they did not remove their armor for three years.Gray (1875), p. 3 Upon the fall of the Qin, General Zhao Tuo established his own kingdom of Nanyue and made Panyu its capital in 204 bc. It remained independent through the Chu-Han Contention, although Zhao negotiated recognition of his independence in exchange for his nominal submission to the Han in 196 bc. Archaeological evidence shows that Panyu was an expansive commercial centre: in addition to items from central China, archaeologists havefound remains originating from Southeast Asia, India, and even Africa. Upon Zhao Yingqi's death in 115 bc, his younger son Zhao Xing was named as his successor in violation of Chinese primogeniture. By 113 bc, his Chinese mother, the Empress Dowager Jiu (樛) had prevailed upon him to submit Nanyue as a formal part of the Han Empire. The native prime minister Lü Jia (呂嘉) launched a coup, killing Han ambassadors along with the king, his mother, and their supporters. A successful ambush then annihilated a Han force which had been sent to arrest him. The enraged Emperor Wu launched a massive river- and sea-borne invasion: six armies under Lu Bode and Yang Pu took Panyu and annexed Nanyue by the end of 111 bc.
Imperial ChinaIncorporated into the Han Empire, Panyu became a provincial capital. Inad 226, it became the seat of Guang Prefecture, which gave it its modern name. The Old Book of Tang described Guangzhou as important port in southern China. Direct routes connected the Middle East and China, as shown in records of a Chinese prisoner returning home from Iraq twelve years after his capture at Talas. Relations were not always peaceful: Muslims sacked the city on 30 October 758 and were massacred by the Chinese rebel Huang Chaoin 878, along with the city's Jews, Christians, and Parsis.
Amid the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms that followed the collapse of the Tang Dynasty, the Later Liang governor Liu Yan used his base at Panyu to establish a "Great Yue" or "Southern Han" empire, which lasted from 917 to 971. The region enjoyed considerable cultural and economic success in this period. From the 10th to 12th century, there are records that the large foreign communities were not exclusively male, but included "Persian women". Guangzhou was visited by the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta during his 14th-century journey around the world; he detailed the process by which the Chinese constructed their large ships in the port's shipyards.
Shortly after the Hongwu Emperor's declaration of the Ming Dynasty, he reversed his earlier support of foreign trade and imposed the first of a series of sea bans (haijin). These banned private foreign trade upon penalty of death for the merchant and exile for his family and neighbors. The Yuan-era maritime intendancies of Guangzhou, Quanzhou, and Ningbo were closed in 1384 and legal trade became limited to the tribute delegations sent to or by official representatives of foreign governments. The policies exacerbated "Japanese" pirate attacks in the area until their removal in 1567.
Following the Portuguese conquest of Malacca, Rafael Perestrello travelled to Guangzhou as a passenger on a native junk in 1516. His report induced Fernão Pires de Andrade to sail to the city with eight ships the next year, but De Andrade's exploration was understood as spying and his brother Simão and others began attempting to monopolize trade, enslaving Chinese women and children, engaging in piracy, and fortifying the island of Tamão. Rumors even circulated that Portuguese were eating the children. The Guangzhou administration was charged with driving them off: they bested the Portuguese at the Battle of Tunmen and in Xicao Bay; held a diplomatic mission hostage in a failed attempt to pressure the restoration of the sultan of Malacca, who had been accounted a Ming vassal; and, after placing them in cangues and keeping them for most of a year, ultimately executed 23 by lingchi. With the help of local pirates, the "Folangji" then carried out smuggling at Macao, Lampacau, and St John's Island (now Shangchuan), until Leonel de Sousa legalized their trade with bribes to Admiral Wang Bo (汪柏) and the 1554 Luso-Chinese Accord. The Portuguese undertook not to raise fortifications and to pay customs dues; three years later, after providing the Chinese with assistance suppressing their former pirate allies, the Portuguese were permitted to warehouse their goods at Macau instead of Guangzhou itself.
After the fall of Fuzhou in October 1646, the Longwu Emperor's brother Zhu Yuyue fled by sea to Guangzhou. On 11 December, he declared himself the Shaowu Emperor, borrowing his imperial regalia from local theatre troupes. He led a successful offense against his cousin Zhu Youlang but was deposed and executed on 20 January 1647 when the Ming turncoat Li Chengdong (李成東) sacked the city on behalf of the Qing.
The Qing became somewhat more open to foreign trade after gaining control of Taiwan in 1683. The Portuguese from Macau and Spaniards from Manila returned, as did private Muslim, Armenian, and English traders. From 1699 to 1714, the French and British East India Companies sent a ship or two each year; the Austrian Ostend General India Co. arrived in 1717, the Dutch East India Co. in 1729, the Danish Asiatic Co. in 1731, and the Swedish East India Co. the next year. These were joined by the occasional Prussian or Trieste Company vessel. The first independent American ship arrived in 1784 and the first colonial Australian one in 1788. By that time, Guangzhou was one of the world's great ports, organised under the Canton System. The main exports were tea and porcelain. As a meeting place of merchants from all over the world, Guangzhou became a major contributor to the rise of the modern global economy.
Guangzhou ("Canton") and the surrounding islands of Henan ("Hanan"), Pazhou ("Whampoa"), Changzhou ("Dane's Island"), and Xiaoguwei ("French Island") during the First Opium War's Second Battle of Canton. The large East Indiamen of the Canton trade used the anchorage sheltered by these four islands, but the village and island of Huangpu for which it was named make up no part of present-day Guangzhou's Huangpu District.
In the 19th century, most of the city's buildings were still only one or two storeys. The major structures were the Plain Minaret of the Huaisheng Mosque, the Flower Pagoda of the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, and the guard tower known as the 5-Storey Pagoda. The northern hills, since urbanized, were bare and covered with traditional graves. The brick city walls were about 6 miles (10 km) in circumference, 25 feet (8 m) high, and 20 feet (6 m) wide. Its eight main gates and two water gates all held guards during the day and were closed at night. The wall rose to incorporate a hill on its northern side and was surrounded on the other three by a moat which, along with the canals, functioned as the city's sewer, emptied daily by the river's tides. A partition wall with four gates divided the northern "old town" from the southern "new town" closer to the river; the suburb of Xiguan ("West Gate") stretched beyond and the boats of fishers, traders, and Tanka ("boat people") almost entirely concealed the riverbank for about 4 miles (6 km). It was common for homes to have a storefront facing the street and to treat their courtyards as a kind of warehouse. The city was part of a network of signal towers so effective that messages could be relayed to Beijing—about 1,200 miles (1,931 km) away—in less than 24 hours.
The Canton System was maintained until the outbreak of the First Opium War in 1839. Following a series of battles in the Pearl River Delta, the British captured Guangzhou itself on 18 March 1841. The Second Battle of Canton was fought two months later. Following the Qing Empire's 1842treaty with Great Britain, Guangzhou lost its privileged trade status as more and more treaty ports were opened to more and more countries, usually including extraterritorial enclaves. Amid the decline of Qing prestige and the chaos of the Taiping Rebellion, the Punti and Hakka waged a series of clan wars from 1855 to 1867 in which 1 million people died. The third pandemic of plague reached Guangzhou in 1894 and caused the death of 60,000 people in a few weeks.
The concession for the Canton–Hankow Railway was awarded to the American China Development Co. in 1898. It completed its branch line west to Foshanand Sanshui before being engulfed in a diplomatic crisis after a Belgian consortium bought a controlling interest and the Qing cancelled its concession. J.P. Morgan was awarded millions in damages and the line to Wuchang wasn't completed until 1936 and a unified Beijing–Guangzhou Railway waited until the completion of Wuhan's Yangtze River Bridge in 1957.
Revolutionary GuangzhouDuring the late Qing Dynasty, Guangzhou was the site of failed revolts such as the Uprisings of 1895 and 1911 to overthrow the Qing; the 72 identifiable bodies found after the latter uprising are remembered and honoured as the city's 72 Martyrs in the Huanghuagang ("Yellow Flower Mound") Mausoleum.
All these failed revolutionary attempts would eventually lead to the Xinhai Revolution that took place all over China including Guangzhou, which successfully overthrowed the Qing Dynasty established a new Han Chinese ruled republic, it also finally ended more than 4,000 years of dynastic rule in China with the abolishment of the Chinese monarchy.
Kuomintang RuleAfter the assassination of Song Jiaoren and Yuan Shikai's attempts to remove Nationalists from power; Hu Hanmin joined the 1913 Second Revolution against him but was forced to flee to Japan with Sun Yat-sen after its failure. Upon Yuan's attempt to declare himself the Hongxian Emperor of China, Guangdong again revolted and became effectively independent on 25 June 1917 with help from the naval commander at Shanghai. In August, Sun Yat-sen established the Guangzhou Military Government as part of the Constitutional Protection Movement. It borrowed $2,000,000 from the German Empire for its army and navy, then declared war on it on September 13. The new Republic of China merged the eastern part of Nanhai County and the northern part of Panyu County with Guangzhou in 1918 and established an urban council to govern it.
Amid the Warlord Era, the Guangzhou government was overwhelmed by Lu Rongting's Guangxi Clique. Sun fled to Shanghai in November 1918 until Chen Jiongming restored him in October 1920 during the Yuegui Wars. The name Guangzhou was made official the next year. In January 1922, the Nationalists organized a major strike among the tens of thousands of dockworkers and sailors in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. On 16 June, Ye Ju assaulted Guangzhou's presidential palace after Chen and Sun differed over whether to accept an accommodation with the Zhili Clique's government in Beijing; Sun had already fled but his wife narrowly escaped shelling and rifle fire before meeting him on the gunboat Yongfeng under Chiang Kai-shek. In autumn, Sun and his party raised more than 500,000 Chinese dollars from supporters to recapture Guangzhou. Their mercenaries removed Chen on 15 January 1923, and he returned to the city on 21 February. His armies were then kept in the field largely through tax levies collected through the city's efficient police force. In December, he planned to seize Guangzhou's maritime customs duties but foreign gunboats led him to drop the plan.Sun and Chiang used Soviet funds and weapons to develop the Whampoa Military Academy on Changzhou from 1924 on. In August, they acted to confiscated weapons being purchased by the Canton Merchants' Volunteer Corps. This led to rioting and a military stand-off in the western suburbsfrom 10–15 October; its suppression damaged Xiguan with large fire. During Sun's life, his son Sun Fo served as mayor of Guangzhou when he was in power from 1920 on; his role did not survive Sun's death by cancer in 1925. The "Canton Coup" on 20 March 1926 saw Chiang solidify his control over the Nationalists and their army against Wang Jingwei, the party's left wing, its Communist allies, and its Soviet advisors. By May, he had ended civilian control of the military and begun his Northern Expedition against the warlords of the north. Ultimately successful, it turned him into the country's paramount leader. Mao Zedong worked in the city, running the 6th term of the KMT's Peasant Movement Training Institute from May to September 1926. In 1927, Zhang Fakui recovered Guangzhou from the New Guangxi Clique. Zhang's suppression of the 11 December Guangzhou Uprising saw even greater numbers of Communists and suspect workers and students killed than at the Shanghai Massacre earlier in the year.
Communist takeoverAmid 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 to protect the communist government's flight to Chongqing. 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 andShenzhen and its ties to overseas Chinese have made it one of the major 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 andConghua and Zengcheng as more rural counties. The former districts of Dongshan and Fangcun were abolished in 2005, merged into Yuexiu and Liwanrespectively. They were replaced by 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.