Few cities have developed as quickly as Guangzhou and while many guides may treat its metropolitan atmosphere with disdain,the city has many attractions for those who seek them out.

The Pearl River winds its way through cuangzhou.

During the Tang dynasty,thousands of trade ships visited Guangzhou annually;a large community of Arab traders lived in the old Muslim quarter,now Liwan,dealing in exotic commodities such as pearls,rhino horns and hawksbill turtles.

Situated on the Pearl River(zhajiang),Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province and was the epicenter of the West’s semi-colonization of China,which began in the 19th century.The two Opium Wars both began here and following years of often violent and turbulent relations with the West,foreigners have now returned under the auspices of China’s economic reforms.Under Deng Xiaoping’s reforms,the first Special Economic Zones(SEZ)were created in the south,and when these economic experiments flourished,Guangzhou quickly adopted the same economic reforms.The city soon became an economic role model for the rest of China.The surrounding province continues to be by far the most developed and wealthy in the country.

During Guangzhou’s transformation into a city of commerce,many of the area’s traditional arts and crafts have suffered.Skills requiring years of apprenticeship,suchas embroidery,gem cutting and carving have all declined as the enterprising businessman and their factories,keen to exploit this geographically important gateway replace the traditional craftsman.Fortunately,jade polishers and silversmiths are still at work in the old-quarter surrounding Changshou Lu(changshou lu).