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Kwangtung

Not to be confused with the Kwantung Peninsula.

Digital relief map of Kwangtung province, China


Kwangtung (Guangdong) is a province of southern China incorporating the Pearl River Delta, which is formed by the distributaries of the Si (Xi), Pei (Bei), and Tung (Dong) Rivers. The province is mountainous with some peaks reaching above 6200' (1900 m). The island of Hainan was also part of Kwangtung at the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The provincial capital was Canton, which though one of the major cities of China was overshadowed by the British crown colony of Hong Kong. Macau was a Portuguese colony across the Pearl Estuary from Hong Kong. The province has a damp subtropical climate, with dry winters and damp, humid summers, and freezing weather is rare. The delta is ideal for rice cultivation.

The province became China's gateway to the outside world in the 16th century, and trade made it one of the wealthiest provinces of China. It also became the gateway for Western ideas, and the Kuomintang got its start here. However, the province was no longer self-sufficient in food by 1937, and the loss of Canton (occupied by the Japanese in October 1938) threatened two million Chinese with starvation. Hainan was seized in February 1939. Both remained in Japanese hands throughout the Pacific War.



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