Its location in southern China, along its border with Vietnam, and mountainous terrain, has made it one of the border frontiers of Chinese civilization. Even into the 20th century it was considered an open, wild territory. The current name "Guang" itself means "expanse", and has been associated with the region since the creation of Guang Prefecture in 226 AD. It was given provincial level status during the Yuan Dynasty and in 1949 was reformed as one of China's five minority autonomous regions.
The abbreviation of the province is 桂 (Gui), which comes from Guilin, former capital, center of much of Guangxi's culture, politics, and history, and currently a major city in the autonomous region.
Guangxi is a mountainous region. The Nanling Mountains are found in the northeast border, with the Yuecheng Mountains (越城岭) and Haiyang Mountains (海洋山) being its shorter branching ridges. Nearer to the center of the region are the Dayao Mountains (大瑶山) and the Daming Mountains (大明山). To the north there are the Duyao Mountains (都阳山) and the Fenghuang Mountains (凤凰山), while on the southeast border there are the Yunkai Mountains (云开大山). The highest point is Mount Mao'er (猫儿山) located in the Yuecheng Mountains, at 2141 m.
Many rivers cut valleys through the mountains. Most of these rivers form the tributary basin of the West River:
| Xijiang River system schematic|
|贺江 Hejiang River||西江 Xijiang River|
|漓江 Lijiang River||桂江 Guijiang River|
|北盘江 Beipan River||红水河 Hongshui River||黔江 Qianjiang River||浔江 Xunjiang River|
|南盘江 Nanpan River|
|融江 Rongjiang River||柳江 Liujiang River|
|龙江 Longjiang River|
|右江 Youjiang River||邕江 Yongjiang River||郁江 Yujiang River|
|左江 Zuojiang River|
Guangxi has a subtropical climate. Summers are generally long and hot. Average annual temperature is 17 to 23°C, while average annual precipitation is 1250 to 1750 mm.
During the late Qing Dynasty, Guangxi was the site of the Jintian Uprising (金田起义), which occurred in what is now Guiping county in eastern Guangxi on January 11, 1851. On March 23, 1885, Zhennan Pass (now Youyi Pass) on the border with Vietnam was also the site of the Battle of Zhennan Pass (镇南关战役) during the Franco-Chinese War. During the battle, a French incursion was routed by Chinese forces under Feng Zicai (冯子才), an event that has been exalted by subsequent Chinese nationalism.
After the founding of the Republic of China, Guangxi served as the base for one of the most powerful warlord cliques of China: the Old Guangxi Clique. Led by Lu Jung-t'ing (陆荣廷) and others, the clique was able to take control of neighbouring Hunan and Guangdong provinces as well. The Old Guangxi Clique crumbled in the early 1920s, to be replaced by the New Guangxi Clique, led by Li Zongren and Bai Chongxi. Guangxi is also noted for the Baise Uprising (百色起义), a communist uprising led by Deng Xiaoping in 1929. Communist bases were set up, but eventually destroyed by Kuomintang forces.
In 1944, near the end of World War II, Japan invaded Guangxi as part of Operation Ichigo (also known as the Henan-Hunan-Guangxi Campaign (豫湘桂战役), in an attempt to seize the Hunan-Guangxi railway line and open a land link to French Indochina. The operation succeeded and most major cities in Guangxi came under Japanese occupation.
Being in the far south, Guangxi was not taken by communist forces until after the People's Republic was formed; it joined in December 1949, two months after the People's Republic's foundation. In 1958, Guangxi was converted into an autonomous region for the Zhuang, by recommendation of Premier Zhou Enlai. This decision was made because the Zhuang were one of the biggest minority groups in China, and were mostly concentrated in Guangxi; however, they form a minority of Guangxi's population.
For most of its history, Guangxi was landlocked. In 1952, a small section of Guangdong's coastline was given to Guangxi, giving it access to the sea. This was reversed in 1955, then restored in 1965.
While some development of heavy industry occurred in the province in the 1960s and 1970s, it remained largely a tourist destination and home of scenery which brought people from all over the world. Even the economic growth in China in the 1990s seemed to leave Guangxi behind. However in recent years there has been a growing amount of industrialization, and concentration on cash crops. Per capita GDP has begun rising more rapidly, as industries in Guangdong seek a way to locate production to lower wage areas.
Chairmen of Government:
In recent years Guangxi's economy has languished behind that of its wealthy neighbour and twin, the province of Guangdong.
Due to lack of investment in construction in the power grid net in rural areas, more than 400 villages in Guangxi Province were not included in the projects. Around 500,000 cannot participate in the policy known as "The Same Grid, the Same Price." Guangxi Power Grid will invest 4.6 billion yuan in improving the power grid during the 11th Five Year Plan.
Guangxi Power Grid has invested 2.5 billion yuan in building electric power system in the first half of 2007. Of the total investment, 2.3 billion yuan has been put into the project of the main power grid. So far, four new transformer substations in Guangxi are in various stages of completion. Wenfu substation went into operation in the city of Hechi on January 2007, and since then it has become a major hub of the electrical power system of the surrounding three counties. When Cangwu substation was completed, it doubled the local transformer capacity. In June 2007, the new substation in Chongzuo passed its operation tests. And in the same month, Qiulong commenced production too. This shall support the power supply system of Qiulong City, as well as the northern part of Guangxi province, and facilitate the nationwide project to transmit power from west to east.
The Beibu Gulf Economic Zone covers six coastal cities along the Beibu Gulf. It integrates the cities of Nanning, the region's capital, Beihai, Qinzhou, Fangchenggang, Chongzuo and Yulin. The state will adopt policies and measures to support mechanism innovation, rational industry layout and infrastructure construction in the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone.
Guangxi municipality has pledged a 100 billion yuan (US$ 14 billion) investment over the next five years for building and repairing 2,500 km railways to form a network hub in the area. Beibu Gulf Zone will serve as the logistics base, business base, processing and manufacturing base and information exchange center for China-ASEAN cooperation. Beibu Gulf Zone promises broad prospects for further development and its growth potential is rapidly released. But the shortage of talent and professionals in petrochemicals, iron and steel, electricity, finance, tourism, port planning, logistics and marine industries are bottlenecks.
The regional government is also working on speeding up key cooperation projects including transportation, the marine industry, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy development, cross-border tourism, and environmental protection. Beibu Gulf has already attracted a number of major projects such as Qinzhou oil refinery projects and Stora Enso, a Fortune 500 forest products company based in Finland. In January 2008 trade import and export in the Beibu Gulf zone exceeded US$1.3 billion, a record high.
The region has a high concentration of Zhuang, over 14 million, one of the major minority ethnicities of China. Over 90% of Zhuang in China live in Guangxi, especially in the central and western regions. There is also a significant number of both Dong and Miao minority peoples. Other ethnic groups include: Yao, Hui, Yi (Lolo), Shui, and Gin (Vietnamese).
Ethnic minorities native to Guangxi, such as the Zhuang and Dong, are also interesting for tourists. The northern part of the province, bordering with Guizhou, is home to the Longsheng rice terraces, said to be some of the steepest in the world. Nearby Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County.