Panyu was set up as a town as early as in 214 BC, under the reign of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of China (221-206 BC). It has a population of over 1.631 million at present.
Panyu returned back to a suburban district at county level in 2000. The district government is located in Shiqiao Township. Situated on the Pearl River Delta and in the subtropical zone, Panyu is suitable for agriculture, with an average temperature of 13°C in January and 28°C in July. Annual precipitation averages more than 1 600 mm. It has been one of the major farming counties in Guangdong for commodity grains and other agricultural products, such as litchi, peanut, banana, longan, sugarcane and papaya.
With a crisscross network of highways and water channels, Panyu is conveniently located geographically. Lianhuashan Harbor provides a direct shipping access to Hong Kong and Kowloon.
Panyu is the hometown of Xian Xinghai, one of the greatest musicians in China. Xian composed a lot revolutionary songs in 1930s-40s, during the Anti-Japanese War period, when China was ruled over by both the warlords and the foreign powers. Some of his songs are still popular in China even today.
Another historic figure is Qu Dajun, who was born in Sixian Xiang in Panyu District. Qu was a popular poet and renowned scholar of Lingnan culture in the transitional period of the late Ming and the early Qing dynasties.
In the past decades, an export-oriented industrial economic system has been formed majoring in sugar refining, papermaking, textile, chemical fiber and fertilizer, printing and dying, clothing, shoemaking, food processing and building materials. Local business is booming and very attractive to businessmen from both abroad and home.
Just half an hour by car from Guangzhou's Haizhu District is Panyu's administrative center of Shiqiao, and seven kilometers southwest of Shiqiao is the ancient town of Shawan. One of Shawan's impressive features is the preponderance of classical style buildings, typical of the Pearl River Delta area. Here one can visit Liugeng Hall, a well-known temple in South China, outstanding for its magnificent architecture and carvings.
Throughout history, Shawan has had a reputation for being a town of culture. Many famous opera actors, actresses and musicians of the modern era are from Shawan. The festival held on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month is a reflection of the superb artistic achievements of the locals.
Situated at the mouth of the Pearl River and about 20 km southeast of Shiqiao, Mt.Lianhuashan (Lotus) is one of four well-known mountains in Guangdong. On its top it stands the Flower Pagoda built in the Ming Dynasty. The standing bronze statue of Guanyin (Chinese Goddess of Mercy) overlooking the sea is as high as 40.88 meters, the highest one gilded with gold in the world. Located on Shiziyang at the mouth of the Pearl River, the sight has been elected one of the eight most attractive spots in Guangzhou Municipality. Actually, the mountain was an ancient quarry begun during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which has been under state protection as one of the 48 national cultural relics so far in Guangdong. On the mountain one can visit the Lotus Flower Pagoda, built during the Ming Dynasty, and the ancient Lotus Flower Fort built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
There are other sites associated with the Opium War as well, such as Upper & Lower Hengdang (Ledge) Islands in the southeast of Panyu. One can reach these scenic spots from Shiqiao by taking the highway to Nansha and changing to a boat at the Nansha Ferry Pier. The canons here once guarded the strategic military post at Humen. Together with Weiyuan Fort across the river, they both controlled the mouth of the Pearl, defending Guangzhou. Other local spots of historic and cultural interest include:
- Xiangjiang Safari Park and Chime-Long Night Zoo are new attractions to visitors. Both of them offer grand shows at night. Children are keen on animals, especially in the wild.
- Yuyinshan (Ancestral Beneficence) Garden, one of the four famous gardens built in the Qing Dynasty in Guangdong. Located in Nancun Township, covering an area of 1 598 sq meters and 17 km away from Guangzhou City Proper, this garden is well known for the family of Wu Yantian, the father and his two sons once scored among top three at the national imperial examinations. It is very symbolic today for the ambitious students and their parents.
- Baomo Garden is situated in Zini Village. It was originally built in the later Qing Dynasty, unfortunately destroyed in 1950s. It took 6 years to rebuild Baomo Garden (1995-2000), and now it is expanded to more than 6 million sq meters. Baomo Garden consists of a group of ancient buildings in Southern style, traditional Lingnan gardening arts, and elegant waterside scenery. The buildings, the gardens, the hills, the waters and the bridges are distributed naturally in balance, forming an attractive sight of a typical traditional Lingnan garden.
Initial signs of the new city are already visible in Nansha Economic Development Zone in the down south of Panyu. Formerly a peninsula created by alluvial sand, it is now covered with a network of roads.
Merchandise stores, modern factories and trading companies are continually springing up on the land neatly crisscrossed by roads and along the riverside. New residential quarters are mushrooming up amazingly, forming a new urban center along the riverside.
Humen Bridge connects Humen and Nansha, which brings over 10 000 vehicles across the Pearl River every day, South of the Ferry Pier a series of deepwater berths are under construction, of which Nansha Deepwater Port on Longxie Island will become the largest river port in South China when it is completed in the coming years. Petroleum and petrochemical industries, iron and steel processing plants, logistic companies and shipping enterprises are the economic pillars.
Furthermore, Guangzhou University Town is also located in this area. Covering as area of over 40 sq km, it is connected with Guangzhou City Proper by No.3 Metro Line, Urban Light Rail System and Huanan Expressway. The town will be made up of a dozen universities, with Guangzhou University moving in first in 2003.
As the geographic center of the Pearl River Delta, Nansha's future attracts nearby cities, especially Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Dongguan and Zhuhai. It takes about an hour or so to go from Nansha to any of the cities mentioned above.
Guangdong Government is hoping to turn Nansha into another Shenzhen over the next few years. When construction is all completed, and the place will become the largest water and land transportation hub in the Pearl River Delta, a major commercial city and a holiday resort catering to people from Hong Kong and Macao. It is very lucky that the first phase of Guangzhou urban light rail system is under construction, which connects Guangzhou and Panyu.
In time Nansha will become a center for logistics, another urban center of Guangzhou City, and a new SEZ of modern industries. The whole development zone will cover an area of 797 sq km, with a land area of 536 sq km, when it is finished it will be as large as that of the present Guangzhou urban area.
Huadu District was an independent county a decade ago, established as a county as early as in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It was recognized as a city in 1993, and in 2000, it became an attached suburban district of Guangzhou with a population of over 713 400. The present government sits in Xinhua Township. Huadu (Flower Capital in Chinese) lies northwest of Guangzhou, fenced in by mountains to the east, north and west. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the district, bringing a warm and humid climate to this area.
With a rich rainfall, Huadu is abundant in a variety of crops, vegetables, tea, litchis, bananas, longans, peanuts and sugarcane. New Baiyun Airport is located in Huadu, which is connected with the other districts and cities nearby through the subway and Jichang Expressway. It will become one of the busiest in China with a capacity of transporting over 20 million passengers a year, offering dozens of flights to almost all the major cities in China day and night. Guangzhou Northern Train Station, as a switchyard of cargo trains, is also located in Huadu District.
One of Huadu's best attractions is Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864) Memorial Museum, in honor of the man who established and led the Taiping Kingdom in the mid-1800s. Though it was at Jintian in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region where Hong started the well-known uprising against the Qing Dynasty, he himself was actually from Huaxian County, today's Huadu District. Located in Guanlubu Village and only a dozen kilometers away, Hong's former residence has made into a historic tourist attraction. This ordinary Hakka village is home to two clans: the Hongs and the Lins. The whole complex of Hong's former residence is called Study Pavilion and the present one is a copy of the original, which was burned down by the Qing troops.
Another noticeable attraction is the 90-meter-high Furongzhang Waterfall, the most famous in all of Guangdong Province. The fall is the centerpiece of Furong Holiday Resort, whose 6 000 hectares encompass hills, waterfalls and forests. The white fall pours down from a sheer cliff to a placid, forming a natural swimming pool large enough to accommodate 10 000 swimmers. There are recreational services around, such as restaurants, karaoke bars, saunas, tennis courts, a barbecue picnic and a shooting range. It offers a weekend destination to Guangzhou urbanites.
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