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This article is about the city. For the classic-winning racehorse, see Shantou (horse).

Prefecture-level city

Location of Shantou City jurisdiction in Guangdong
Location in China

Coordinates: 23°21′N 116°40′E / 23.350°N 116.667°E / 23.350; 116.667Coordinates: 23°21′N 116°40′E / 23.350°N 116.667°E / 23.350; 116.667

Country People's Republic of China
Province Guangdong
Municipal seat Jinping District
 • CPC Committee Secretary Li Feng (李锋)
 • Mayor Cai Zongze (蔡宗泽)
 • Total 2,064 km2 (797 sq mi)
 • Total 5,391,028
 • Density 2,600/km2 (6,800/sq mi)
 • Major Nationalities Han
Time zone China Standard (UTC+8)
Postal Code 515000, 515041
Area code(s) 754
License Plate Prefix D

Shàntóu (Chinese: 汕头), also known as Swatow or Suátao, is a prefecture-level city on the eastern coast of Guangdong province, People's Republic of China, with a total population of 5,391,028 as of 2010 and an administrative area of 2,064 square kilometres (797 sq mi). With it and the immediately surrounding cities of Jieyang and Chaozhou, the metropolitan region – known as Chaoshan – covers an area of 10,404 km2 (4,017 sq mi), and had a permanent population of 13,937,897 at the end of 2010.

Shantou, a city significant in 19th-century Chinese history as one of the treaty ports established for Western trade and contact, was one of the original Special Economic Zones of the People's Republic of China established in the 1980s, but did not blossom in the manner that cities such as Shenzhen, Xiamen and Zhuhai did. However, it remains eastern Guangdong's economic centre, and is home to Shantou University, a member of the Project 211 group.


Shantou was a fishing village part of Tuojiang City (鮀江都), Jieyang District (揭陽縣) during the Song Dynasty. It came to be Xialing (廈嶺) during the Yuan Dynasty. In 1563, Shantou was a part of Chenghai District (澄海縣) in Chao Prefecture (Chaozhou). As early as 1574, Shantou had been called Shashan Ping (沙汕坪). In the seventeenth century, a cannon platform called Shashan Toupaotai (沙汕頭炮臺 sha shan tou pao tai) was made here, and the placename later was shortened to "Shantou". Locally it has been referred to as Kialat.

Connecting to Shantou across the Queshi Bridge is Queshi (礐石) which had been known by the local people through the 19th century as Kakchio. It was the main site for the American and British Consulates. Today the area is a scenic park but some of the structures are somewhat preserved from its earlier history.

It became a city in 1919, and was separated from Chenghai in 1921. 1922 saw the devastating Swatow Typhoon, which killed 5,000 out of the 65,000 people then inhabiting the city.[1]

In the 1930s, as a transport hub and a merchandise distribution centre in Southeast China, Shantou Port's cargo throughput ranked third in the country. A brief account of a visit to the city in English during this period is the English accountant Max Relton's A Man in the East: A Journey through French Indo-China (Michael Joseph Ltd., London, 1939).

With higher-level administrative authority, Shantou governed Chaozhou City and Jieyang City from 1983 to 1989.


Shantou is a prefecture-level city. It has direct jurisdiction over six districts and one county.

Map # Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2010 Census) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
City proper
1 Jinping District 金平区 Jīnpíng Qū 810,606 109 7,437
3 Longhu District 龙湖区 Lónghú Qū 536,102 104 5,155
2 Haojiang District 濠江区 Háojiāng Qū 267,597 135 1,982
4 Chaoyang District 潮阳区 Cháoyáng Qū 1,626,641 668 2,435
5 Chaonan District 潮南区 Cháonán Qū 1,290,922 596 2,166
6 Chenghai District 澄海区 Chénghǎi Qū 798,896 345 2,315
7 Nan'ao County 南澳县 Nán'ào Xiàn 60,264 108 558

As of 2003, the district of Haojiang was established out of Hepu and Dahao which had been merged, and the district of Jinping Shengping and Jinyuan; Waisha and Xinxi Town, part of former Chenghai City, was merged into Longhu District; Chenghai City became Chenghai District; Chaoyang City was divided and became Chaoyang and Chaonan District respectively.

Geography and climate

Shantou is located in eastern Guangdong with latitude spanning 23°02′33″ – 23°38′50″ N and longitude 116°14′40″ – 117°19′35″ E; the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern part of the city, and along it there is a monument, in fact the easternmost in mainland China, at 23°26′33″N 116°35′20″E / 23.44240°N 116.58885°E / 23.44240; 116.58885.[2] The highest peak in the city's administration is Mount Dajian (大尖山) on Nan'ao Island, at 587 m (1,926 ft); the highest peak on the geographic mainland is Mount Lianhua (莲花山), at 562 m (1,844 ft) in Chenghai District. The city is located at the mouths of the Han, Rong (榕江), and Lian Rivers.

Shantou has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with short, mild to warm winters, and long, hot, humid summers. Winter begins sunny and dry but becomes progressively wetter and cloudier. Spring is generally overcast, while summer brings the heaviest rains of the year though is much sunnier; there are 8.2 days annually with 50 mm (1.97 in) of rainfall. Autumn is sunny and dry. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from 13.8 °C (56.8 °F) in January to 28.3 °C (82.9 °F) in July, and the annual mean is 21.53 °C (70.8 °F). The annual rainfall is around 1,630 mm (64 in), about 60% of which occurs from May to August. There are 1,979 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Climate data for Shantou (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17.9
Average low °C (°F) 10.7
Rainfall mm (inches) 33.6
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 7.2 10.8 12.7 13.3 15.3 17.1 13.4 13.7 9.9 5.2 4.8 5.2 128.6
 % humidity 78 80 82 82 85 86 83 83 81 77 76 75 80.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 143.2 96.0 101.7 112.8 134.7 170.9 239.7 218.6 200.7 207.6 181.2 171.5 1,978.6
Percent possible sunshine 43 30 28 30 33 42 58 55 55 58 55 52 44.9
Source: China Meteorological Administration [3]


Shantou's economy is medium by Guangdong standards. Manufacturing accounts for a large and increasing share of employment. Canning, garments, lithography, plastic, and toys are some of the principal products. Toy manufacturing is the city's leading export industry, with 400 million U.S. dollars worth of exports each year.

Guiyu, a populous town in Chaoyang District, is the biggest electronic waste site on earth.[4] Health-environmental issues incurred have concerned international organisations such as Greenpeace.

In 2000, the biggest tax fraud in the history of the People's Republic of China was uncovered, estimated worthy of 32.3 billion yuan.

Development zone

With an area of 2.34 km2 (0.90 sq mi), Shantou Free Trade Zone lies at the south part of Shantou city. It was ratified by the State Council of the People's Republic of China and founded in January 1993, it formally came into use on December of the same year after its supervision installations are checked and accepted by the General Customs. It has been comprehensively developing export processing, storage, international trade, finance and information industry. Its goal is to establish a modernized international zone that is open to the overseas by drawing experience from international free trade zone.[5]


Shantou is one of the most densely populated regions in China. Former Chaoyang City was China's most populous county-level administrative region, with 2.4 million inhabitants.

Most residents are linguistically Teochew. There are also Hakka, popularly known as Half-Hakka (半山客), living mainly in Chaoyang District (潮陽區) and Chaonan District (潮南區), although they speak Teochew on a daily basis and practise Teochew culture. Thanks to the Mandarin-medium education system, most people, especially the younger generations, can speak Mandarin fluently. Thanks to Cantonese-language TV and labor migrations to the Pearl River Delta, Cantonese is widely spoken as a second or third language by the younger generations.

Governmental statistics show that 2.16 million overseas Chinese have roots in Shantou, with significant populations of Teochew people residing in Thailand and Cambodia. This is demonstrated by the unusually high number of international direct flights between Bangkok and Shantou. In addition, there are at least two Teochew-speaking air hostesses on board each China Southern flight between Shantou and Bangkok.[6] The Teochew presence, furthermore, is evident in Singapore and Malaysia; Johor Bahru, a coastal city situated at the latter's southernmost tip, is known as 'Little Swatow'.

Culture and lifestyle

Shantou people share the same culture with other Teochew. The tea-drinking tradition widely practised in town is a classic instance. According to China Daily,[7] Shantou people "drink more tea than anyone else in China, in total 700 million yuan (US$87.5 million) each year".



The public hospitals in the Shantou metropolitan area are operated by the Government of Shantou. Management of these hospitals and other specialist health facilities are coordinated by Shantou Board of Health.


Shantou's electricity is provided entirely by China Southern Power Grid, postal service operated by China Post.


Shantou is one of the most important international telecommunications ports in China. Four international submarine communications cables land at Shantou submarine cable landing station, including APCN 2, China-US Cable Network, SMW3 and South-East Asia Japan Cable System (SJC).[8]

China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile provide fixed lines, broadband internet access and mobile telecommunications services there.


The private car has matured as a transport option for Shantou residents. However, more still travel by autobikes. Public transportation is provided by bus, ferry and taxi.

The Jieyang Chaoshan Airport is the airport serving Shantou. Over 2 million people use the airport each year. Taxi is the usual way to travel between the airport and the city proper. The taxi fare is around 60 RMB.

Tourism attractions

  • Shipaotai Park (Chinese: 石炮台公园; pinyin: Shí pàotái gōngyuán)
  • Chen Cihong's Former Residence (Chinese: 陈慈黉故居; pinyin: Chén Cíhóng gùjū)
  • Nan'ao Island (南澳島 Nanao Dao): rated as Guangdong's most beautiful island by China's National Geographic magazine
  • Palace-Temple of Old Mother (老媽宮 Laoma Gong): dedicated to the goddess Matsu
  • Temple of Emperor Guan (關帝廟 Guandi Miao): dedicated to Guan Yu
  • Tropic of Cancer Symbol Tower (北回归线标志塔 Beihuiguixian Biaozhita): The Tropic of Cancer slips through Centipede Mountain, which is 20 kilometers away from the city proper.
  • Cultural Revolution Museum (文革博物馆 Wenge Bowuguan): The country's only museum dedicated to the Cultural Revolution.


In 1912 Swatow had four newspapers, all in Chinese. They were Han Chao Pao, Ming Chuan (People's Rights), Ta Fung Pao (The Typhoon), and Ta Tung Pao (Eastern Times).[9]


Education is overseen provincewide by the Guangdong Education Bureau.

Primary and secondary

Public primary and secondary schools provide education free.

A list of known schools:

  • Shantou Jinshan Middle School
  • Shantou Number One Middle School
  • Shantou Experimental School
  • Shantou Number four Middle School
  • Shantou Number ten Middle School
  • Shantou Number two Middle School
  • Shantou Number three Middle School
  • Dahua number one primary school

Colleges and universities

  • South China University of Technology Shantou College
  • Shantou Polytechnic
  • Shantou Radio and TV University
  • Shantou University

Twin towns — sister cities

Shantou is twinned with the following cities: [10]

Country City County/District/Province/Region/State Date
 Japan Kishiwada Osaka Prefecture June 2, 1990[11]
 Canada Saint John New Brunswick February 28, 1997[12]
 Vietnam Can Tho N/A August 1, 2005[13]

Friendly exchanges:

Country City County/District/Province/Region/State Date
 South Korea Pyongtaek Gyeonggi-do March 25, 2003[14]
 Australia Fairfield New South Wales April 26, 2005[15]
 United States Orlando Florida August 8, 2007[16]
 United States Los Angeles California December 25, 2001[17]

Prominent people

Many famous Chinese come from Shantou or their ancestral home is Shantou.



  • Hong Kong born
  • Mainland China
    • Cai Chusheng (1906–1968), famous director, and the film "Yu Guang Qu" (渔光曲) directed by him received the first international film prize in China's history


  • Nuon Chea (1926-), politician
  • Qin Mu (1919–1992), writer
  • Watchman Nee (1903–1972), theologian, and opponent of prosperity theology
  • Tan Howe Liang (1933–), Singaporean weightlifting Olympian

See also

China portal



Further reading

  • (Harvard University)

External links

  • (Chinese) Official government website
  • (English) Website of Shantou Government
  • Shantou Daily
  • Guangdong Statistical Yearbook

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