Southernmost mainland province (pop., 2002 est.: 78,590,000) of China. It is bounded by the South China Sea to the south, and along its coast are Hong Kong and Macau; also bordering it are Fujian, Jiangxi, and Hunan provinces and Guangxi autonomous region. It has an area of 76,100 sq mi (197,100 sq km). The capital is Guangzhou (Canton). It was first incorporated into the Chinese empire in 222 BC. Overseas trade through Guangzhou swelled the population of the province in the 16th–17th century. It was the site of illicit opium importation by the British, which led to the first Opium War (1839–42). Kowloon was ceded to Britain in 1860 and Macau to Portugal in 1887; both were restored to China in the late 1990s. Guangdong was a base for the Nationalists under Sun Yat-sen from 1912. Japanese forces occupied the province in 1938–45. Its centuries of foreign contact have given it a degree of self-sufficiency that sets it apart from the rest of China; more recently it has developed several special economic zones.
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