Guangdong, China

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Guangdong is China’s most populous and most productive province and offers a unique insight into the history of China, still being written today. Among the industrial cities lie some of China’s most glorious cultural sites and the beautiful Pearl River, which leads to Hong Kong and Macau.

Separated from the rest of mainland China by a series of spiky and jutting mountain ranges, Guangdong had to carry its own weight early on in Chinese history. Playing its part in world history as the trigger for the Opium War and the epicentre of the Cultural Revolution, the province experienced two of the darkest chapters in Chinese history. Now, though, Guangdong’s fortunes have reversed, literally, and after a series of almost radical economic reforms Guangdong is the flagship for the Chinese economic freight train, changing global politics by the hour.

Guangdong is not for the casual traveller, not for the tourist, and not for the faint hearted. It isn’t a quasi-European settlement, filled with Western-style hotels or American fast-food chains; Guangdong is China, pure and unadulterated. It is perfect for those who don’t want the diet version but are in it for the full package. The smog of Guangzhou might put off a lot of would-be expats, but look through the smoke and you’ll find a vibrant, culture-rich province, full of character, optimism, honesty, and ingenuity.

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