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Guangzhou

Guangzhou (/ˈɡwɑːŋdʒoʊ/; simplified Chinese: 广州; traditional Chinese: 廣州, Cantonese pronunciation: [kʷɔ̌ːŋ.tsɐ̂u] or [kʷɔ̌ːŋ.tsɐ́u] (About this soundlisten); Mandarin pronunciation: [kwàŋ.ʈʂóu] (About this soundlisten)), also known as Canton and formerly romanized as Kwangchow, is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong in southern China. 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, as well as one of China’s three largest cities.

Guangzhou is at the heart of the most-populous built-up metropolitan area in mainland China, which extends into the neighboring cities of Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Shenzhen, forming one of the largest urban agglomerations on Earth, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone. Administratively, the city holds subprovincial status and is one of China’s nine National Central Cities. At the end of 2018, the population of the city’s expansive administrative area was estimated at 14,904,400 by city authorities, up 3.8% from the previous year. Guangzhou is highly ranked as an Alpha- (global first-tier) city together with Melbourne (Australia), San Francisco (the U.S), and Stockholm (Sweden). Guangzhou also ranks 21st globally (between Washington, D.C. and Amsterdam) and 8th in Asia (behind Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Shenzhen and Dubai) in the 2020 Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI). There is a rapidly increasing number of foreign temporary residents and immigrants from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa. This recent population influx has led to it being dubbed the “Capital of the Third World”.

The domestic migrant population from other provinces of China in Guangzhou was 40% of the city’s total population in 2008. Together with Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, Guangzhou has one of the most expensive real estate markets in China. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, nationals of sub-Saharan Africa who had initially settled in the Middle East and other parts of Southeast Asia moved in unprecedented numbers to Guangzhou in response to the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis.

Long the only Chinese port accessible to most foreign traders, Guangzhou was captured by 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 and Shanghai, but continued to serve as a major transshipment port. Nowadays, in modern commerce, Guangzhou is best known for its annual Canton Fair, the oldest and largest trade fair in China. For three consecutive years (2013–2015), Forbes ranked Guangzhou as the best commercial city in mainland China.

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