Sunday, October 12, 2008


Cháoshàn is a term used to describe the linguistic and cultural region based in southeastern Guangdong province, China. This region is the origin for the Minnan variant: . The area is known as Chaozhou for most people overseas. In English it is spelled as ''Teochew'' and Shantou is spelled as ''Swatow''. You will find these words in an English dictionary. It is different from the rest of Guangdong province, which consists of and Hakka speakers.


The name "Chaoshan" is a contraction of the names of two of its administrative areas, the prefecture-level cities of Chaozhou , and Shantou .


Encompassing the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang, the Chaoshan region, with a permanent population of 13,139,800 at the end of 2006, covers an area of 10,404 km? that stretches from Shanwei on the coast to the border of Fujian.

Culture and language

This is a unique area with its own culture that is quite different from its neighbours in Guangzhou and the rest of China. It does, however, share similarities to the Minnan areas just north of Chaoshan in Fujian province. One of the main reasons for its uniqueness is its language, called . It is said that this dialect of Chinese is one of the most difficult ones to master, as it has 8 tones compared to the 4 tones found in Mandarin. Music, opera, and food are further characteristics that distinguish Chaoshan people from the rest of Guangdong.


A temperate climate and fresh seafood attracts many visitors to this area. The people are more relaxed than other areas of China, smoking rate is less, and work should always take the backseat to noon naps and Kung-Fu tea. Many visitors from Hong Kong flock to the area for the great food known throughout China. The food is bland and so is able to retain its original flavor without being tampered by soy sauce, vinegar, chili, and other sauces. Other favorites are beef balls, fish balls, rice noodle, and numerous other small treats.


In recent years, due to corruption and car smuggling in the 1980s and 1990s, the central government has chosen to slow down growth of this region even though it is still designated as an SEZ . This has had a major effect on the lives of Chaoshan people. Business is not as vibrant compared to other cities in Guangdong and Shantou University is finding it hard to attract local high school graduates. Despite of that, new construction is prevalent and there appears to be hope in the horizon for this unique area on the coast of Southeast China. The other factor that benefits this area is the overwhelming Overseas Chinese from this area. The richest Chinese person in the world Li Ka Shing is from this region. He has invested greatly on the education and healthcare of this region.


Related links

*Teochew people

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