The city of Zhuhai is situated on the coast of Guangdong Province, on the southern/ western side of the Pearl River Estuary, just north of Macau - and just opposite Hong Kong's Lantau Island - not far from where the Pearl River Estuary empties into the South China Sea. The city of Guangzhou, the inland terminal point of the Pearl River Estuary, lies about 140 kilometers north-northwest of Zhuhai.
The city of Zhuhai is one of China's Special Economic Zones (not to be confused with China's Special Administrative Regions such as Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, etc.), of which there are a handful. A modern port city, Zhuhai comprises an area of some 7500 square kilometers, or 750,000 hectares (1,853,290 acres), though much of this is water, since Zhuhai administers a number of islands in the Pearl River Delta (Hengqin, Qi'ao, Yeli Islands, etc.), and some even in the South China Sea, such as the extensive Wanshan Archipelago.
Archeological traces of Neolithic Age human settlements have been unearthed in the Zhuhai area dating back some 4000 years (fom the present-day 21st century), or from the beginning of the Bronze Age in China (the "metal" ages did not occur uniformly the planet over, but happened in response to local discoveries and developments - for example, in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), the Bronze Age began in BCE 2900, circa).
The small, nameless fishing village corresponding to present-day Zhuhai is believed to have been under Han Chinese administrative jurisdiction as early as the Qin (BCE 221-207) Dynasty. During the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty, the village was given the name Xiangshan Town (Zhuhai is still alternately referred to as Xiangzhou) and was made subordinate to Dongguan County.
Xiangshan Town became an important local salt producer during the Northern Song (CE 960-1127) Dynasty, when it was referred to as Xiangshan Salt Works, and the administrative entity known as Xiangshan continued to consolidate down through the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty, when, in CE 1152, it incorporated the four seaside counties of Dongguan, Nanhai, Panyu and Xinhui. Thereafter the town of Xiangshan seems to have more or less stagnated, having been eclipsed by its larger, more powerful neighbors, Macau, Jiangmen and Guangzhou.
In more recent times, Zhuhai County was established in 1953, with Xiangshan Town as its seat, and comprising the Wanshan and Dangan Archipelagos, as well as Sanzao Island. By 1979, numerous smaller islands in the Pearl River Delta were added, and Zhuhai County became Zhuhai Municipality, or the city of Zhuhai. A year later, the administrative entity became a special economic zone. The 2005 census revealed that Greater Zhuhai, i.e., to include all of the islands under its jurisdiction, had over 140 million inhabitants.
The city of Zhuhai proper is a large, bustling but meticulously clean metropolis that is sleekly planned, with the inclusion of many gardens and other green oases, in the typical seaside style of southern China. With its mild climate, Zhuhai is ablaze with colorful flowers, with one species or another in bloom all year round. The city's larger roads are flanked by wide green "lawns" of waving grass on either side, punctuated by flowers in a myriad of colors.
The buildings are generally in white, with bright, colorful highlighting, which, together with the seas of green grass, the trees, the brightly colored flowers and the blue of the sea, create an atmosphere of seaside luxury. In 1999, the city of Zhuhai was awarded the "International Award for Best Practices in Improving the Living Environment" by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements - the first such city in China to receive this honored distinction. Not surprisingly, Zhuhai is also praised by the Western media as one of the Top 10 Best Cities to visit in China.
Some of the city proper's tourist highlights include: the permanent International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition; Zhuhai International Circuit, officially opened in 1996 as China's first Formula-One worthy race track, though it has yet to stage a Formula One event, having in the meantime been edged out by the Shanghai International Circuit (but Zhuhai International Circuit has not given up on its Formula One ambitions! - to learn more about Zhuhai International Circuit, click here); Pearl Amusement Park (to learn more about Pearl Amusement Park, click here); the New Summer Palace (to learn more about the New Summer Palace, click here); the Meixi Memorial Archways, located on the perimeter of the city proper (to learn more about the Meixi Memorial Archways, click here); Zhuhai Ocean World (to learn more about Zhuhai Ocean World, click here); and the Zhuhai Fishing Maiden, Zhuhai's answer to Copenhagen's "Little Mermaid", in Denmark.
Slightly farther afield are Jinzhou Ancient City, the Four Buddhist Mountains Scenic Area, as well as the many islands of the two archipelagos, Wanshan and Dangan, which are a special treat in and of themselves. Lastly, the Zhuhai Film Festival, which is held every other year in the month of June - in even years - has become one of South East Asia's most important cinema fixtures.