Guangzhou (gwäng´jō´) or Canton (kăn´tŏn´, kăn´tŏn´), city (1994 est. pop. 3,113,800), capital of Guangdong prov., S China, a major deepwater port on the Pearl River delta.
Among the largest cities in the country, Guangzhou is the transportation, industrial, financial, and trade center of S China. It is a special economic development zone and an important trading point with Hong Kong. It has an integrated steel complex, paper mills, a long-established textile industry (silk, cotton, jute, and more recently synthetic fibers), and factories producing tractors, machinery, machine tools, newsprint, refined sugar, small appliances, tires, bicycles, sports equipment, porcelain, cement, and chemicals.
Traditional arts and crafts, principally ivory and jade carvings, are still produced. The hub of water transportation along the Pearl River, it is the southern terminus of the Guangzhou-Wuhan RR. It has a large international airport and is linked with Hong Kong by the Guangzhou-Jiulong RR. Highways completed in the 1990s connect it with cities on the coast. Guangzhou is one of the marketplaces for China's world trade; great national trade expositions, held there every spring and fall (since 1957), attract thousands of business people from all over the world.
Points of Interest
The city is also a cultural and educational center with several institutions of higher learning, notably Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan) Univ. and Jinan Univ. Tourist attractions include a large pagoda overlooking the river, now a museum of ceramics; the huge Temple of the Six Banyan Trees; a park, with pavilions, commemorating the 1927 conflict between the Communists and the Kuomintang; and the Canton Tower (1,968.5 ft/600 m), a broadcast and sightseeing tower that is one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Museums include the Guangzhou Municipal Museum, the Sun Yat-sen Museum, and the museum of the Peasant Movement Institute. Nearby are Conghua hot springs and an important army base.
Guangzhou became a part of China in the 3d cent. BC Hindu and Arab merchants reached Guangzhou in the 10th cent., and the city became the first Chinese port regularly visited by European traders. In 1511, Portugal secured a trade monopoly, but it was broken by the British in the late 17th cent.; in the 18th cent. the French and Dutch were also admitted. Trading, however, was restricted until the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) following the Opium War, which opened the city to foreign trade. Following a disturbance, French and British forces occupied Guangzhou in 1856. Later the island of Shameen (Shamian) was ceded to them for business and residential purposes, and this reclaimed sandbank with its broad avenues, gardens, and fine buildings was known for its beauty; it was restored to China in 1946.
Guangzhou was the seat of the revolutionary movement under Sun Yat-sen in 1911; the Republic of China was proclaimed there. From Guangzhou the Nationalist armies of Chiang Kai-shek marched northward in the 1920s to establish a government in Nanjing. In 1927, Guangzhou was briefly the seat of one of the earliest Communist communes in China. The fall of Guangzhou to the Communist armies in late Oct., 1949, signaled the Communist takeover of all China. Under the Communist government, Guangzhou was developed as an industrial center and a modern port, with a great trade to and from Hong Kong.