Guangzhou or Kuangchou, both, also Canton, one of China's largest cities, a major deepwater port, and the capital of Guangdong Province. Guangzhou is on the Zhu River some 80 miles (130 km) inland from the South China Sea and Hong Kong. For several centuries Guangzhou was the only Chinese port open to foreign trade. Most of the early Chinese immigrants to the United States came from the Guangzhou area.
Guangzhou is the leading industrial and commercial center of southern China. Rice and sugarcane, the main products of the Zhu River Delta region, are processed in Guangzhou. Fishing, shipbuilding, and steelmaking are major industries. Other industries include petroleum refining and the manufacturing of paper, cement, fertilizer, chemicals, trucks, machine tools, tires, and aluminum. China's international Export Commodities Fair (Guangzhou Trade Fair) is held twice yearly in Guangzhou's massive Foreign Trade Center.
The area of Guangzhou was settled during the third century B.C. The first Europeans to reach Guangzhou were Portuguese traders, in 1514. They were followed by the Spanish, Dutch, British, and French. In 1842 Guangzhou became a treaty port. The city was the center of rebellion in the 1911 revolution, when the Chinese overthrew the Manchu emperor. From 1917 to 1926 Guangzhou was the seat of the Kuomintang (Nationalist party) government, which rivaled the Republican government in Beijing. During that period the city was rebuilt and modernized.
In 1938 Guangzhou was severely bombed by the Japanese, who then occupied the city until the end of World War II. The city was one of the last strongholds of the Nationalists during the Chinese Communist takeover of the country in 1949.