Guangdong is located on the coast of southern China and is the most modern of all China's provinces and can trace its history back almost 3,000 years. The Pearl River at the very center of the province has dominated the history and economy of the region.
Outside China many people still know Guangdong and its capital city Guangzhou as Canton, which is a European derivation of the province's name. Natives of Guangdong speak Cantonese, which differs greatly from the Mandarin (Putonghua) Chinese spoken in most of China. A different language and a unique cuisine have led to Guangdong and the Cantonese having quite a distinctive and separate Chinese identity.
The Pearl River port of Guangzhou brought trade and riches to Guangdong for centuries but by the late 19th century, other treaty ports and the then colony of Hong Kong took a greater share of foreign trade. Guangdong's wealth declined and its population, who had a tradition of migration left the province in their millions to make their fortunes worldwide.
In the early 20th century it was revolutionary idealism and not entrepreneurship that was exported from Guangdong. Following the revolution of 1911 a native of Guangdong province, Sun Yatsen became the first president of republican China. Through the 1920s and 1930s Guangzhou was the scene of power struggles and actual battles between the Nationalists and the Communists.
Today, the booming cities of the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) such as Shenzhen plus the autonomous regions of Macau, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, have put the Pearl River Delta at the forefront of China's economic development.
Despite the massive urban developments in Guangdong and the province's enthusiasm for all things new, there are numerous places of natural beauty such as the Seven Star Crags near Zhaoqing, and many historical sites to explore. The province has excellent road, rail and air connections and is easy to travel to from its near neighbor Hong Kong.