Guangxi (广西; Gwóngsāi in Cantonese, Guǎngxī in Mandarin) is a relatively poor but highly scenic area in southern China. It is known as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, because of its large Zhuang minority population.
Guangxi is in South China, west of Guangdong Province (Canton); ‘xi’ and ‘dong’ are ‘west’ and ‘east’ in Chinese. It has a significant coastline on the South China Sea, (Beibu Gulf). It shares many characteristics of its poorer sister to the north, Guizhou, due to its mainly rural nature and large minority populations.
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Guangxi is in the far south of China and traversed by mountain ranges, and has often been on the frontier of Chinese civilization throughout history. It has been traditionally influenced by its neighbor Guangdong and the variety of minority ethnic groups native to the region’s mountains. In fact, the name “Guang” shared with Guangdong literally means expanse, with Guangxi forming the western part of this region. Due to this geographic isolation, Guangxi has thus been very different from Northern China in many ways.
Guangxi is linguistically diverse. Standard Mandarin is spoken by nearly all, but bahk wá, a dialect of Cantonese, is spoken as the local native language in most of eastern and southern Guangxi. Due to historical associations and cultural influence from nearby Guangdong, standard Cantonese is also spoken and understood in these parts of the province, and by many locals in the major tourist centers of Guilin and Yangshuo and is the local language of Wuzhou. Certain communities in the north of Guangxi speak the Pinghua variant of Chinese, which is remotely related to Cantonese and therefore not mutually intelligible with it.
Some of the many minority groups still speak their own tongues as well. As the Zhuang are the largest minority group and have been granted autonomy in this part of China, Zhuang is a co-official language in addition to Mandarin in Guangxi. Bilingual signs in Chinese and Zhuang can be found on public buildings and notices.
Despite its seemingly remote location from the rest of China, Guangxi is well connected to the rest of the country by air, road and rail.
Several rail lines traverse the region, with major train stations at Guilin and Nanning. The Nanning–Kunming Railway provides connections to provinces north of Guangxi and Vietnam to the south. Trains serving Guangdong stop at railway stations in Guilin and Liuzhou.
The largest airports in the province are Nanning Wuxu International Airport and Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, while smaller airports providing domestic Chinese flights are also found at Baise, Beihai and Wuzhou.
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is located in the South of the People’s Republic of China, bordering the Gulf on Tonkin in Viet Nam. Guangxi Zhuang was accorded the status of a province during the Yuan Dynasty but in 1949 it received the status as an Autonomous Region.
Guangxi Zhuang has borders with the Province of Yunnan to the West, Hunan Province to the northeast, Guizhou to the North and Guangdong to the Southeast.
Guangxi is known for its rice noodles (粉; fěn in Mandarin, fán in Cantonese). Each city has its own specialty. Prices vary between 6-15 Yuan.
One of Guanxi’s more infamous dishes is dog meat, often associated with the city of Yulin where an annual dog meat festival in held in June. The meat is prepared in a variety of ways including being a component in hotpot or stir-fried. The treatment of dogs shipped to the festival for consumption has drawn domestic and international criticism.
Locally produced wines made from fruit or flowers can be found in markets or restaurants. Also, given its proximity to Vietnam, Vietnamese coffee beans can be easily obtained at supermarkets or already brewed and ready to order in cafés in Nanning.
You can go overland to Vietnam by train or road from Nanning. There is a consulate in Nanning so you can pick up a visa there. Tickets for these trips are on sale in Yangshuo.
History of Guangxi Zhuang
During World War II Guangxi Zhuang was invaded as part of the Japanese Operation Ichigo. The Japanese wanted to seize Hunan-Guangxi railway link and subsequently open a link to French Indochina. As a result of the success of the Operation Ichigo, many important cities of Guangxi Zhuang came under the control of the Japanese.
As it was located in the deep South of the Republic of China, communist forces could not take control of Guangxi and only the People’s Republic of China was established.
Local Economy of Guangxi Zhuang
Guangxi’s main crops are Rice, Maize, Potatoes and Wheat.
Guangxi’s GDP for the year 2007 was 588.6 billion yuan and the per capita GDP was 12,408 yuan.
Guilin was the earlier ancient capital of Guangxi Zhuang and the city is known for its magnificent stunning scenery set by the Lijiang River. Yangshuo is a favored place for backpackers. If you have enough time please visit the Longsheng Rice Terraces inhabited by ethnic minorities of China.