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Why visit the Pearl River Delta? History enthusiasts head to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province's ancient capital and the historic center of Cantonese culture. Gourmands flock to both Guangzhou and Shenzhen to indulge in some of the best examples of contemporary Chinese cuisine. Culture vultures take in the many temples, shrines, and museums scattered throughout the region. A visit to the Pearl River
Delta will quickly dismiss any lingering notions that China is still a nation bound by the tenets of Marx and Mao.
The hard-working Pearl River Delta is one of China's fastest-growing and most affluent regions. With a GDP that outranks that of Saudi Arabia, Guangdong Province has been the industrial engine powering China's meteoric economic rise. It's also among China's most polluted regions, and that's saying a lot. From the southern suburbs of Guangzhou city to the northern edge of Shenzhen, industry stretches in all directions. Tens of thousands of factories churn out the lion's share of the world's consumer products. This hyper-industry has polluted the entire area's soil, water, and air so badly that in Hong Kong (on the region's southern tip) pollution is an overriding public concern.
But much has changed in recent years as municipal governments struggle to upgrade the quality of life for residents and visitors. Pollution levels are slowly improving as some factories are being shuttered or moved inland. Guangzhou's clean and efficient subway system has been expanded. In Shenzhen the subway system doubled in size at the end of 2011, and several new lines were under construction in 2013.
Guangzhou (also known as Canton), the capital of Guangdong Province, is both a modern boomtown and an ancient port city. This metropolis of...