Swatow; Shantow
From top: Zhengguo Temple, Renmin Square, Queshi Bridge, Shantou overview.
From top: Zhengguo Temple, Renmin Square, Queshi Bridge, Shantou overview.
Location of Shantou City jurisdiction in Guangdong
Location of Shantou City jurisdiction in Guangdong
Shantou is located in China
Location in China
Coordinates (Shantou municipal government): 23°21′14″N 116°40′55″E / 23.354°N 116.682°E / 23.354; 116.682
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Municipal seatJinping District
 • CPC Committee SecretaryFang Lixu (方利旭)
 • MayorZheng Jiange (郑剑戈)
 • Prefecture-level city2,248.39 km2 (868.11 sq mi)
 • Metro
9,297.1 km2 (3,589.6 sq mi)
51 m (167 ft)
 (2020 census)[1]
 • Prefecture-level city5,502,031
 • Density2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Metro12,543,024
 • Metro density1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
 • Major Nationalities
 • Prefecture-level cityCN¥ 293 billion
US$ 45.4 billion
 • Per capitaCN¥ 53,106
US$ 8,232
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal Code
515000, 515041
Area code754
ISO 3166 codeCN-GD-05
Local dialectSwatow dialect
"Shàntóu", as written in Chinese
Simplified Chinese汕头
Traditional Chinese汕頭
Literal meaningFish-basket Point

Shantou, alternately romanized as Swatow[3][4] and sometimes known as Santow,[5] is a prefecture-level city on the eastern coast of Guangdong, China, with a total population of 5,502,031 as of the 2020 census (5,391,028 in 2010) and an administrative area of 2,248.39 square kilometres (868.11 sq mi). However, its built-up (or metro) area is much bigger with 12,543,024 inhabitants including Rongcheng and Jiedong districts, Jiexi county and Puning city in Jieyang plus all of Chaozhou city largely conurbated. This is de facto the 5th built-up area in mainland China between Hangzhou-Shaoxing (13,035,026 inhabitants), Xian-Xianyang (12,283,922 inhabitants) and Tianjin (11,165,706 inhabitants).

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 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, which is under the provincial Project 211 program in Guangdong.


Shantou was a fishing village part of Tuojiang Du (鮀江都), Jieyang County during the Song dynasty. It came to be known as Xialing (廈嶺) during the Yuan dynasty. In 1563, Shantou became a part of Chenghai County in Chao Prefecture (Chaozhou). As early as 1574, Shantou had been called Shashanping (沙汕坪). In the seventeenth century, a cannon platform called Shashantou Cannon (沙汕頭炮臺) was made here, and the place name 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 from its earlier history are somewhat preserved. In 1860, Shantou was opened for foreigners and became a trading port according to Treaty of Tientsin.[6]

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.[7] Some nearby villages were totally destroyed.[8] Several ships near the coast were totally wrecked.[9] Other ones were blown as far as two miles inland.[8] The area around the city had around another 50,000 casualties.[9] The total death toll was above 60,000,[10] and may have been higher than 100,000.[9]

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). On 21 June 1939, Japanese troops invaded Shantou.[11] Japanese forces occupied Shantou until 15 August 1945.[12] The Communist People's Liberation Army captured Shantou on 24 October 1949, 23 days after the People's Republic of China was founded.[13]

With higher-level administrative authority, Shantou governed Chaozhou City and Jieyang City from 1983 to 1989.[14]


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.[15] 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 is 301 km (187 mi) northeast of Hong Kong.[16]


Shantou has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa), 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 14.7 °C (58.5 °F) in January to 29.1 °C (84.4 °F) in July, and the annual mean is 22.58 °C (72.6 °F). The annual rainfall is around 1,618 mm (64 in), about 60% of which occurs from May to August. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 28% in March to 58% in July and October, the city receives 1,979 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Climate data for Shantou (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1971–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 18.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.8
Record low °C (°F) 1.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 38.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 6.1 8.7 10.8 11.4 14.0 16.4 13.8 13.7 9.2 3.7 4.4 6.1 118.3
Average relative humidity (%) 74 77 78 79 80 83 80 80 76 69 72 71 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 144.8 112.5 112.0 127.3 153.8 172.6 241.9 214.5 202.7 211.9 176.8 160.0 2,030.8
Percent possible sunshine 43 35 30 33 37 43 58 54 55 59 54 48 46
Source 1: China Meteorological Administration[17][18]
Source 2: Weather China[19]


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

Administrative divisions of Shantou
Division code[20] English name Chinese Pinyin Area in km2[21] Population 2010[22] Seat Postal code Divisions[23]
Subdistricts Towns Residential communities Administrative villages
440500 Shantou City 汕头市 Shàntóu Shì 2248.39 5,389,328 515000 37 32 517 548
440507 Longhu District 龙湖区 Lónghú Qū 119.42 536,356 Jinxia Subdistrict 515000 5 2 80 32
440511 Jinping District 金平区 Jīnpíng Qū 146.15 810,284 Shipaotai Subdistrict 515000 17 169
440512 Haojiang District 濠江区 Háojiāng Qū 179.89 267,463 Dahao Subdistrict 515000 7 60
440513 Chaoyang District 潮阳区 Cháoyáng Qū 664.91 1,626,357 Wenguang Subdistrict 515100 4 9 93 179
440514 Chaonan District 潮南区 Cháonán Qū 596.42 1,288,165 Xiashan Subdistrict 515100 1 10 65 167
440515 Chenghai District 澄海区 Chénghǎi Qū 429.43 800,399 Chenghua Subdistrict 515800 3 8 45 137
440523 Nan'ao County 南澳县 Nán'ào Xiàn 112.17 60,304 Houzhai Town 515900 3 5 33

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.


Shantou harbor and skyline as viewed from Double Island, June 2022

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. Canaton Calculator Co. is a multinational electronic devices manufacturing company.

Guiyu, a populous town in Chaoyang District, is the biggest electronic waste site on earth.[24] Health-environmental issues incurred have concerned international organizations 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. In 2017, the analyzed data of Shantou GDP is approximately 230 billion yuan(US$35.4 billion).

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, and it formally came into use on December of the same year after its supervision installations were checked and accepted by the General Administration of 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 overseas by drawing experience from international free trade zones.[25]


Guoping Road in downtown Shantou, December 2018

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. Shantou has direct jurisdiction over six districts and one county, and the six urban districts of Shantou have a population of 5,330,764.[citation needed]

Metro area

With it and the surrounding cities of Jieyang and Chaozhou, the administrative metropolitan area known as Chaoshan covers an area of 10,404 km2 (4,017 sq mi), and had a permanent population of 13,648,232 as of the 2020 census. Nevertheless, its built-up area spread on 11 districts, Puning city and Raoping county was home to 12,543,024 inhabitants as of 2020 census.[1] This is de facto the fifth built-up area of China after Guangzhou-Shenzhen Pearl River Delta megacity, Shanghai-Suzhou-Wuxi-Changzhou conurbation, Beijing and Hangzhou-Shaoxing agglomeration.


Most residents are linguistically Chaoshan Min. Chaoshan dialect is a variant of Min Nan (Hokkien-Taiwanese) spoken in the neighbouring Southern Fujian and Taiwan. There are also Hakka, popularly known as Half-Hakka (半山客), living mainly in Chaoyang District and Chaonan District, although they speak Chaoshan on a daily basis and practise Chaoshan culture. The Mandarin-medium education system, widely promoted throughout China, has made most people, especially younger generations, speak Mandarin fluently. Cantonese language TV and labor migrations to the Pearl River Delta has also made Cantonese widely spoken as a 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, which constitute a majority of Thai Chinese and a majority of Chinese Cambodians. 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.[26] 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', due to the majority local Chinese populace is dominantly Teochew and as well as the second largest group of the local Chinese population in Singapore.

Culture and lifestyle

Main article: Teochew people § Culture

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, Shantou people "drink more tea than anyone else in China, in total 700 million yuan (US$87.5 million) each year".[27]


St. Joseph's Cathedral of Shantou

Most of the population in Shantou is non-religious or practices traditional folk religions, Buddhism, Taoism, or worship of Chinese deities and ancestors. About 2% of the population belongs to an organised religion, with 40,000 Protestants, 20,000 Catholics and 500 Muslims.[28] St. Joseph's Cathedral of Shantou is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shantou.



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).[29]

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


Shantou Queshi Bridge during sunset

Urban transport

Public transportation is provided by bus, ferry, bike sharing system and taxi. Residents also travel by private car and motorbikes. There are two bridges throughout the city that cross the Shantou Harbor: the Queshi Bridge and Shantou Bay Bridge. A metro system is planned with construction of 3 lines (Lines 1, 2, and 3) commencing in 2018 and opening of the system planned in 2020.

The new CBD of Shantou on the east coast, facing the Taiwan strait, as viewed from Dahao Island.


Shantou previously had its own civil airport, Shantou Waisha Airport. It was formerly the main airport serving the Shantou until nearby Jieyang Chaoshan Airport was opened on 15 December 2011. Shantou Waisha Airport became a military airbase since then and all civilian flights were transferred to the newly built airport in Jieyang.[30] Taxi is the usual way to travel between the airport and the city proper. The taxi fare is around 60 RMB. Airport-Downtown Shantou shuttle charter is also suggested. Based in Shantou, Shantou Airlines Co. operated by China Southern Airlines has a 15 aircraft fleet in service.


Shantou Railway Station, 2019
A high-speed train leaving Shantou for Guangzhou, 2022

There are 3 railway stations which serve Shantou: Chaoshan Railway Station and Chaoyang railway station which lie on the Xiamen-Shenzhen Railway line, and Shantou Railway Station which lies on the Guangzhou–Meizhou–Shantou Railway and is under construction for the Guangzhou-Shanwei-Shantou 350 km/h high speed railway.

Tourism attractions

The Shantou Cultural Revolution Museum (文革博物馆; Wéngé bówùguǎn) was the country's only museum dedicated to the Cultural Revolution. It closed in 2016.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2012)

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).[31] In 2018, Shantou Metropolis Daily Post and Shantou Special Economic Zone Evening News both stopped their traditional newspaper business and transform into e-newspaper newspapers. Meanwhile, the Shantou Daily[permanent dead link] (Municipal) keep providing both newspaper service and e-newspaper service for Shantou citizens and other readers.[32]


Education is overseen provincewide by the Guangdong Education Bureau.

Primary and secondary

Shantou has a host of well-known schools:

Colleges and universities

This is the entrance gate to Shantou University


Twin towns – sister cities

Shantou is twinned with:[33]

Friendly cities

Shantou has friendly relations with:[33]

Notable people

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




See also


  1. ^ a b "China: Guăngdōng (Prefectures, Cities, Districts and Counties) - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  2. ^ OECD Urban Policy Reviews: China 2015, OECD READ edition. OECD. 18 April 2015. p. 37. doi:10.1787/9789264230040-en. ISBN 9789264230033. ISSN 2306-9341 – via OECD iLibrary.Linked from the OECD here
  3. ^ Edward Stanford (1908). Atlas of the Chinese Empire (1 ed.). pp. 21, 86. Swatow{...}Swatow, Kwangtung . 25.14 N 114.2 E
  4. ^ From postal romanization, based on the local Teochew pronunciation
  5. ^ from the local Cantonese pronunciation
  6. ^ 汕头1860的记忆_管理滚动新闻_新浪财经_新浪网. Sina Finance.
  7. ^ Willis E. Hurd (August 1922). "North Pacific Ocean" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. pp. 433–35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Notes on weather in the other parts of the world" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. p. 437. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  9. ^ a b c "The Selga Chronology Part II: 1901–1934". Universidad Complutense Madrid. Retrieved 2 May 2007.
  10. ^ "NOAA's Top Global Weather, Water and Climate Events of the 20th Century" (PDF). NOAA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 28 June 2007.
  11. ^ 日军入侵 汕头沦陷. 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  12. ^ 侵汕日军投降日 汕头人民欢天喜地庆祝胜利. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  13. ^ 汕头历次区划调整大事记(1949-2003). 14 March 2003.
  14. ^ 中國汕頭政府-歷史沿革 (in Simplified Chinese). Shantou People's Government. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  15. ^ 汕头宣传网-爱国主义教育基地. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  16. ^ McGinniss, Joe. Never Enough: A Shocking True Story of Greed, Jealousy and Murder. Simon & Schuster, 25 December 2012. ISBN 1471108384, 9781471108389. Google Books PT284.
  17. ^ 中国气象数据网 – WeatherBk Data (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  18. ^ 中国气象数据网 (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  19. ^ 汕头 - 气象数据 -中国天气网 (in Chinese). Weather China. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  20. ^ 中华人民共和国县以上行政区划代码 (in Simplified Chinese). Ministry of Civil Affairs.
  21. ^ 汕头市国土资源局. 《汕头市土地利用总体规划(2006–2020年)》 (in Simplified Chinese).
  22. ^ 中华人民共和国国家统计局 (December 2012). 《中国2010年人口普查分县资料》 (in Simplified Chinese). China Statistics Press. ISBN 978-7-5037-6659-6.
  23. ^ Ministry of Civil Affairs (August 2014). 《中国民政统计年鉴2014》 (in Simplified Chinese). China Statistics Press. ISBN 978-7-5037-7130-9.
  24. ^ The Seattle Times (2006). E-waste dump of the world Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 March 2007
  25. ^ | Shantou Free Trade Zone
  26. ^ 汕头——曼谷航班有了潮籍空姐. 民航资源网. 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2007.
  27. ^ China Daily (2006). For all the tea in China, head to Shantou. Retrieved 26 July 2006
  28. ^ 汕头宗教的主要特征. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  29. ^ "Shantou Submarine Cable Landing Station". Submarine Cable Networks website. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  30. ^ 揭阳潮汕机场今晨起飞首架航机. Netease (in Simplified Chinese). 15 December 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
  31. ^ United States Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, p. 187.
  32. ^ "再见,为了更好的相遇《汕头都市报》、《汕头特区晚报》". Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  33. ^ a b "International Connections". Shantou. Retrieved 17 December 2020.


Further reading