overview of the Pearl River Delta
The Pearl River Delta is a large urban
agglomeration made up of a continuously built area, which is home to
a population as large as that of Germany or the Philippines. The
area is considered by many analysts a true model of economic and
social development due to the important changes that the region has
experienced over the past three decades.
In terms of its political and geographical make-up, the Pearl River
Delta consists of a provincial capital city (Guangzhou), two Special
Economic Zones (Zhuhai and Shenzhen), nine cities, sixteen
county-level municipalities, and the special administrative regions
of Hong Kong and Macau. With the exception of the latter, most of
the cities that make up the Pearl River Delta area are in the
Guangdong province, although there is a section of the Fujian
province that is also part of this thriving economic hub.
The formation of the Pearl River Delta area was the result of a
progressive decentralisation process and of the rapid urbanisation
that has characterised China during the last thirty years. The delta
area experienced a drastic change, as it went from being mostly
dependent on state-owned enterprises to becoming a market economy
that currently competes with the world's leading economic figures.
The emergence of the Pearl River Delta as a distinct economic centre
has helped place China as one of the key players in the global
economy. For several consecutive years, the area has been China's
number one in terms of wealth and economic growth indicators. When
Macau and Hong Kong are included as part of the Pearl River Delta,
the region also becomes a key international consumer market given
the inclusion of these affluent areas. By all standards, consumer
consumption indexes in the region are among the highest in China and
in the whole of Asia.
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This large area is extremely well connected to the rest of China and
to other parts of South East Asia, America, and Europe. There are
seven airports in Guangdong province, three of which are major
transportation hubs. The ports in cities like Shenzhen, Zuhai, and
Shantou handle hundreds of million of tons in cargo every year and
are among the world's busiest ports. Construction and redevelopment
projects continue to boom, and they have been responsible for a
drastic change in the physical environment in the Pearl River Delta.
Because of the role that the Pearl River Delta region plays in the
Chinese economy, both the central and the local authorities have
devised plans for further development. Currently, the area's growth
is being promoted according to the guidelines set in three
overlapping development plans, which will run until 2020 and which
aim to enhance the added value of this pioneering social and
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