A general 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 economic project.

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