Pearl River

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The Pearl River (Chinese: 珠江 Pinyin: Zhū Jiāng) is a large river in Southern China. It forms from the confluence of three rivers, the North (Bei), West (Xi) and East (Dong) rivers, which collectivity drain a basin of 409,480 km². These rivers flow through Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, and parts of Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces before emptying into the South China Sea in Guangdong province. The river was a major trade artery. Restrictions by the Chinese government on trade meant that only the Pearl River port of Guangdong (formerly called Canton) was allowed to conduct business with foreigners. Thus huge amounts tea and porcelain came form all over China to the Pearl River before being shipped to Europe. The European powers set up their own trade stations and eventually colonies here. The Portuguese acquired the peninsular of Macau. The Dutch began in Hong Kong which then changed to British control. The river was the scene for the of the Opium Wars between China and the United Kingdom.

Today the Pearl River remains a key centre for trade throughout Asia and the Pacific. Several of the worlds largest ports are on the river including Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangdong and Macau. Hong Kong and Macau continued to be administered by their colonial powers until 1997 and 1999 respectively. There separation form mainland China made them key centres for business during the 1960's 70's and 80's. In 1979, China created its first Special Economic Zones at Shenzhen and Zuhai on the Pearl River. These were a success and Shenzhen has burgeoned form rural fishing village to a city of over 8,270,000 people in under 30 years. The Pearl River Delta Economic Zone, which includes most of the major cities and ports in the area, but excludes Hong Kong and Macau, accounted for 30.7% of all of China's exports in 2004[1] The Greater Pearl River Delta area, which includes Hong Kong and Macau, had a GDP of US$409.97 billion in 2005.[2]

The river's upper reaches of the river are the site of large hydroelectric projects such as the Longtam Dam.[3][4][5][6]


  1. PRD Economic Profile of Pearl River (English) (HTML). Retrieved on 2008-05-16.
  2. The Greater Pearl river Delta (English) (PDF). InvestHK. Retrieved on 2008-05-16.
  3. Hongshui River in south China to be dammed in November, China Daily, October 26 2003. Retrieved on 2008-04-21.
  4. Ben Shaw. Building Longtan, Potain. Retrieved on 2008-02-10. “Li Xuejiang, a manager with one of the technical departments for the contracting joint venture, explains the working process at the site: “This jobsite operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week – in common with most working job sites in China.””
  5. Guangxi Builds Huge Hydraulic Power Station, China through a lens, November 6 2003. Retrieved on 2008-04-21.
  6. First generator of China's 3rd largest hydropower project passes trial operation, People's Daily, May 28, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-02-10. “"We are preparing for the operation of the other two generators, which is also slated for this year," said Dai Bo, general manager of the Longtan Hydropower Development Co. of China Datang Corporation (CDT).”