Built during the Qin Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Qinshihuang in 214 BCE, Guangzhou began as the small town of "Panyu", serving as an outpost for the emperor's invasion of the surrounding Lingnan area. With its strategic location and abundant natural resources along the Pearl River, the town grew in size and importance over time, transforming into a prosperous, grand harbor. It served as a provincial capital under the illustrious Han Dynasty, and was the main endpoint for travelers and traders journeying along the historic Silk Road, for many centuries.
In the early modern era, Guangzhou became one of the first ports to be opened to European trade, beginning with the Portuguese in the 16th century CE. It served as the focal point and namesake of the "Canton System", a trade policy under which merchants from around the world, including Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States, converged in Guangzhou to engage in commerce. Its prominence led to a proliferation of many Chinese products worldwide, such as tea, silk, and porcelain. In fact, the tea that was dumped into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party was imported directly from Guangzhou.
Today, Guangzhou carries on its legacy as a nexus of international exchange. Its highly-developed infrastructure, economic prosperity, and cultural attractions draw visitors from all over the world, each seeking to experience all that this dynamic metropolis has to offer.