Shenzhen (Chinese: 深圳) is a major city in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong Province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. The area became China’s first—and one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones (SEZs). It currently also holds sub-provincial administrative status, with powers slightly less than a province.
Shenzhen’s modern cityscape is the result of the vibrant economy made possible by rapid foreign investment since the institution of the policy of “reform and opening” establishment of the SEZ in late 1979, before which it was only a small village. Both Chinese and foreign nationals have invested enormous amounts of money in the Shenzhen SEZ. More than US$30 billion in foreign investment has gone into both foreign-owned and joint ventures, at first mainly in manufacturing but more recently in the service industries as well. Shenzhen is now considered one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
Being southern mainland China’s major financial center, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also one of the busiest container ports in China.
Shenzhen is located in the Pearl River Delta, bordering Hong Kong to the south, Huizhou to the north and northeast and Dongguan to the north and northwest. The municipality covers an area of 2,050 square kilometres (792 sq mi) including urban and rural areas, with a total population of 14 million in 2008.
The city was originally a hilly area, with fertile agrarian land. However, after becoming a special economic zone in 1979, Shenzhen underwent tremendous change in landscape. The once hilly fishing village is now replaced by mostly flat ground in city center area, with only Lianhua Shan (Lotus Hill), Bijia Shan (Bijia Mountain) and Wutong Shan the only three places that have some kind of elevation as viewed from satellites. With the influx of migrants from inland China, Shenzhen is experiencing a second stage boom, and it is now expanding peripherally and the hills in surrounding areas such as Mission Hills are now being levelled to make land for more development.
Shenzhen is located on the border with the Hong Kong SAR across the Sham Chun River and Sha Tau Kok River, 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the provincial capital of Guangzhou, 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of the industrial city of Dongguan and 60 kilometres (37 mi) north-northeast of the resort city of Zhuhai.
Shenzhen’s major tourist attractions include the Chinese Folk Culture Village, the Window of the World, Happy Valley, Splendid China, the Safari Park in Nanshan district, the Dameisha Promenade, Xiaomeisha Beach Resort in Yantian district, Zhongying Jie/Chung Ying Street, Xianhu Lake Botanical Garden, and Minsk World. The city also offers free admission to a number of public parks including the Lianhuashan Park, Lizhi Park, Zhongshan Park and Wutongshan Park.
The OCT East development in Yantian district is also an events hotspot, featuring the Ecoventure Valley and the Tea Stream Resort Valley theme parks, three scenic towns, two 18-hole golf courses and eight themed hotels. OCT East was joined in 2012 by the OCT Bay development, which brought more attractions including an exhibition centre, hotels and residences, an artificial beach called CoCo Beach, and an IMAX cinema. There are over twenty public city parks in Shenzhen.
Some tourists, however, choose to stay in a largely expatriate and exotic residential community called Shekou, home to a large French cruise liner cemented into the ground called Sea World. Shekou was expanded and renovated in recent years, including claiming additional land from the sea. Shenzhen’s central music hall and library are located in the Shenzhen Cultural Center.
In recent years, the East Coast (shoreline) of Shenzhen has attracted more and more tourists, including backpackers. One of the most famous beaches is Xichong in the south of Dapeng Peninsula.
Each year, more and more people come to this city to try to find employment. As a result, the city has become increasingly crowded. The local government has recently made city-wide environmental improvements in an effort to combat problems caused by overpopulation. In recognition for these improvements, the city was awarded the Garden City Award in 2000.
While Shenzhen has had to overcome a number of obstacles resulting from this population swell, the city has also benefited from the increased diversity. Workers come to the city from almost every part of china, bringing with them their local traditions and cuisines. Visitors are able to sample foods from each of China’s famous eight cuisines. Local dishes are also worth trying – Kejia is one of the many dishes that should not be missed.
Street SceneThanks to its developed economy, it is easy to get there quickly and comfortably by air, train or ship. What’s more, it is the only city in China that provides three modes of transportations for simultaneous comings and goings. Unfortunately local transportation is not equally convenient; transportation in the city is hit-or-miss due to the large population. However, the number of transportation options available helps to counteract the problems caused by crowding. In contrast, lodging in this city is very easy to do, as there are a number of hotels which frequently host businessmen and visitors from all over the world. Finally, when you visit there, make sure that you plan a day trip to Hong Kong, where you can enjoy the sites and attractions of the famous international metropolis.