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This page contains background information about Shenzhen, and the region of China called the Pearl River Delta.

Pearl River Delta

pearlriverdelta The Pearl River Delta (PRD) is located in the province Guangdong in Southern-China and has been formed by sediment deposits from the Pearl River. The area is about 8600 8600km2 large, roughly equal in size to a quarter of the Netherlands. The delta region has a rectangular shape with the cities Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong on the corners. The three most important cities of Mainland China are Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Guangzhou en Zhuhai

Guangzhou is the capital of the province Guangdong. It's the largest coastal city in Southern China with an area of about 7300 km2. Guangzhou governs 10 districts and two cities. The total population in 2001 was about 7.1 million people and the GDP was ¥38.568. This made Guangzhou the 8th richest city of China

Zhuhai lies on the western edge of the Pearl River Delta and borders in the south to Macau. The city covers an area of 7649 km2 and has a population of about 1.25 million. The GDP per capita was ¥66.551 in 2001, making it the third richest city in China.


Shenzhen (Chinees: 深圳) is a big city in South China in the south of the province Guangdong and the south of the city borders the north border of Hong Kong. The city has about 12 million inhabitants and about 8 million of them are official residents (hold a 'hukou'). Shenzhen covers an area of 2020 km2 and is known for its many parks and in 2001 won an international award as 'garden city'.


Shenzhen started out as a small fishing village, but since the designation as  'Speciale Economische Zone (SEZ)' by Deng Xiaopin in 1980, Shenzhen has expanded and grown to the current modern world city.

Geography and layout of the city

shenzhen-map-full Shenzhen streches from West to East and can be divided into several districts. In the west is Bao'an district, next to the east Nanshan. Part of Nanshan is called Shekou and many foreigners traditionally live there.  More central you will get Futian (where I currently live) and Luohu district. Even further eastwards we get the small district Yantian and the big district Longgang. The three districts Nanshan, Futian and Luohu form the heart of Shenzhen but the government of Shenzhen is putting greater emphasis on the development of other districts such as Bao'an.


Nanshan district was traditionally less developed than Futian and Luohu, but since the late 1980s was home to a sizable expat base in Shekou. Because Futian and Luohu have become so crowded, more emphasis is placed on Nanshan (and Bao'an) districts. Currently a subway extension is under construction (scheduled for 2011) that will be very convenient for people living in Shekou. One subway branch will go towards the ferry in Shekou (which leads to HK, Macau and Zhuhai). Shekou has some very good (and expensive) real estate such as Coastal Rose Garden, Mont Orchid Riverlet and Garden City. There are quite a lot of bars and some shops selling imported goods. You will see really lots of foreigners here, big difference with other areas of the city. With the completion of the bridge linking Nanshan and the North-West of Hong Kong and the ferry to downtown Hong Kong, it's easy to hop over to Hong Kong. One of the landmarks in Shekou is "the boat". Also the parks Window of the World , Happy Valley and Splendid China are in Nanshan district.


I currently live in Futian district. It's home to the city's new Central Business District with many financial companies. In Futian district you will also find the main government office, the big modern library and the Shenzhen Concert Hall (at Citizen's Center ). Many foreigners live around Coco Park (including me). You have easy access to the subway from here and therefore access to Hong Kong. The border in Luohu is best reached by subway and the border with Huanggang is just a 10-minute taxi-ride away. So also in Futian district, it's very easy to go to Hong Kong. In Futian you also find the important shopping street near SEG .


Is the traditional center of Shenzhen and it is very densely populated. I mainly know Luohu for the biggest border crossing we have with Hong Kong. Furthermore you can find Dong Men in Luohu and also lots of offices. There is also a big train-station near the Luohu border, which can be convenient if you want to go to other mainland Chinese cities. Further out you will find the highest mountain of Shenzhen (Wu Tong Shan ) and the botanical gardens.


Photo from Shenzhen at sunset Februari 10th 2010 , taken from the Tencent office in Nanshan, looking to the east (towards Baoan and the sea).



Shenzhen had a labour force of about 3.3 million people in 2001, although this number is probably outdated and I would not be surprised if it was two times as much now. The GDP per capita wildly varies in reported by different sources. According to the city it was US$ 5604,60 in 2002. According to some other research it was ¥136.071 in 2001, making it the richest city of China. A famous Chinese saying is is:

"You think you're brave until you go to Manchuria, you think you're well-read until you reach Beijing, and you think you're rich until you set foot in Shenzhen."

Shenzhen has as only one of three Chinese cities (Shanghai and Hong Kong are the other two) their own stock exchange called the Shenzhen Stock Exchange . This exchange was founded in 1990. Shenzhes harbor rivals that of Shanghai and Hong Kong measured by export of Chinese goods. In 2005 Shenzhen was the fourth busiest harbor in the world measured by the number of containers and was growing much faster than Hong Kong.

In 2008 Shenzhen was selected as the most innovative city in China, before Hong Kong and Shanghai. Shenzhen holds the edge over Hong Kong in technological innovation and cultural and environmental aspects, according to the study . Shenzhen was 4th in investment environment(after HK, Beijing and Shanghai). It ranked 3rd in livability (after Hangzhou and Hong Kong).

Half October 2008, the expansion of the current High-Tech park in Shenzhen officially started. The 3 billion yuan (US$439 million) software base, which covers 150,000 square meters and will be funded by the Shenzhen government, will be put into operation in 2010. Shenzhen built a software park in the high-tech park 10 year ago. It is home to more than 400 companies with 40,000 employees. The output of the city’s software industry reached 86 billion yuan in 2007, accounting for 15 percent of the country’s total. Software exports reached US$4.5 billion last year.

Read more about the IT-sector Shenzhen


Shenzhen can be reached by water, air and land. Although most foreigners will arrive in Shenzhen by airport from Hong Kong or Guangzhou, Shenzhen als has it's own airport and various boat- and trainconnections.

Read more about Transport Shenzhen


Shenzhen has a subtropical climate with warm humid summers and dry moderate winters. Read more in the article Weather and Climate Shenzhen.


What to do / tourism in Shenzhen?

Shenzhen is not famous for its scenic spots, but you can still enjoy your time in Shenzhen. I have collected several tips, which you can access via the menu on the left, or via these links:






Shenzhen government online

The Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (pdf)

Wikipedia - Shenzhen

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Thijs (Shenzhen)  - Shenzhen info     | |2008-12-06 21:28:58
This is a reply to check if everything works. Great website about Shenzhen if I may say so myself
Anonymous   | |2009-02-06 16:47:22
Yes I agree...great website.
Mark Anthony Jones  - China Discourse     | |2009-04-08 12:03:28
I enjoyed viewing your photos of Shenzhen - a city I lived in for two years, back in 2004 and 2005.

I have written a little about Shenzhen on my website - 'city of kitsch' if you're interested. I lived in the Futian District, and worked from an office in the Jiangsu Building. I really quite enjoyed my time in Shenzhen. I spent a good deal of time drinknig Guinness in McCawley's Irish-themed pub, in Shekou - my main watering hole.
Richard (Hong Kong)  - Nice / leuk   | |2009-04-17 21:42:06
Interessante site, ik was laatst nog in Shenzhen en Guangzhou. Ben ook naar Book City geweest, maar helaas geen boeken over computers aaaangeschaft daar. Inderdaad stukken goedkoper als in NL, ook goedkoper als in HK
Evangeline  - Thank you   | |2009-11-15 22:49:39

This website of both of you is great! It's super precise! (I can never do it).

Thank you for showing around how does Shenzhen works.
orlando rental vacations  - Its superb!     | |2010-03-21 00:33:51
I am glad that I found your blog. It is very details and lots of thing to be noticed. I am looking forward to have my vacations there in mid july and you've help me a lot in planning. Thank you
M.Hunter  - wonderful     | |2010-07-27 16:08:55
unfortunately have never been to this city, but fom the pictures I can say that it is just wonderful! so many places of interest, nice cafes, possibilities for entertainment! from now on I'll set up a new goal for myself: to visit Shenzhen
Blaire  - Moving to Shenzhen!   | |2010-08-05 12:22:46
I'm moving there in less than 2 weeks!!

Your site has been much more helpful than others so thank you!!

I don't speak Chinese though, will I be ok??
Thijs  - Thanks!     | |2010-08-05 14:43:57
Thanks Blaire, I try my best!

Some things, such as taking a bus or paying your utility bills, will be difficult, but I think you'll be ok. Try to start learning some basic Chinese as soon as possible, it helps a lot. If only to recognize what is the male and female toilet There are nowadays many foreigners living in Shenzhen and the subway system is very convenient with it's pinyin station names.
Blaire  - Finally arrived!   | |2010-08-23 00:24:44

Rosetta Stone has been my best friend so far... I've learned words like dog, water, running and sandwich - they definitely don't start out with words and questions to help you get around, but I'm definitely trying!

I need to find some expats and a pub or two in the Bao'an district, suggestions?
Thijs   | |2010-08-23 10:22:50
I suggest you try on, there are many foreigners on that social website and some must be living in Bao'an. Enjou your stay in Shenzhen!
Joyce lee  - Moving to shenzhen!   | |2010-09-27 11:14:20
Hi I have read ur information abt the income tax and found it very helpfully and easy to understand. However I still have a main concern over the security in Shenzhen
can you advise. I'm currently looking for an apartment probably either futian or Nan Shan area can I seek opinion ? I also notice the rental seems quite high eg a 1 rm apartment cost rmb 3000 to rmb4000 is this normal?
Really appreciate ur reply thks
Thijs  - High rental costs     | |2010-09-27 11:25:17
Hi Joyce, unfortunately the rental costs for apartments are really high in Shenzhen (and other major Chinese cities). One room for 3-4K seems on the high side, but it really depends on the floor size (in square meters). Whatever you finally decide, renting costs are probably by far your biggest expense.

I also always advice against renting (or buying) an apartment from the internet for foreigners, because the prices on English websites targeting foreigners are often inflated. It's best to look around in the city once you arrive here. Every street has many small real-estate companies and they advertise the houses on the window.

I have never felt that Shenzhen is dangerous and especially Nanshan, Futian and Luohu are good places to live (and work).
joanna  - writer   | |2010-11-12 00:16:20
i'm writing a novel with one chapter set in shenzhen in 1988. does anyone have any recollections or knowledge of what it was like then? thanks!!!
Nederland  - vraag   | |2011-02-15 13:46:54
Hey thijs hoe ben je aan die baan gekomen?
Thijs   | |2011-02-16 08:23:20
Geluk dat Tencent destijds net een innovatie-centrum aan het opzetten was, ze een Amerikaans-Chinese manager hadden, dat ik zeer geintereseerd was, een laag salaris accepteerde, m'n vriendin me introduceerde en TU Delft goed staat aangeschreven
marlyn   | |2011-08-11 21:37:23
Hi,have a great day,i just wanted to ask on How to get visa to shenzhen? we are OFW here in HONGKONG we would like to go shopping to shenzhen?and also what is the requirements for getting visa? thanks a lot..! hope could u help us..!

3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Saturday, 04 December 2010 )
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