Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is one of the most prosperous cities in China and sits on the Pearl River. Serving as the capital of Guangdong province, Guangzhou has a long history dating back to the Qin dynasty (221-207BC) but the first foreigners didn't arrive until the 2nd century AD. These were Indians and Romans, followed by Arabs during the Tang, which led to the birth of a substantial trade industry. Many years later, in the 16th century, the Portuguese provided Guangzhou with its first exposure to modern Europeans. In their quest for silk and porcelain, the Portuguese also got Macau. The Portuguese were followed by the Jesuits and the British.
At first, trade with the British was denied, until 1685 when Guangzhou was opened up to foreign trade. With the governmental restrictions, trade was very prosperous for China. The British leveled the playing field by unloading 1,000 chests of Bengal opium at Guangzhou, which led to the Opium War and the Treaty of Nanking. The British came out on top with the treaty, gaining trading and residential rights and the island and territories of Hong Kong.
During the 19th century, Guangzhou found itself the birthplace of the Taiping Rebellion and the Kuomintang campaigns. Both movement leaders, Hong Xiuquan and Sun Yatsen, respectively, were born just outside of Guangzhou. The Communist Party also had its origins in this city. Modern day Guangzhou, however, is much less concerned with political revolt as it is with monetary gains as is leads the nation's modernization.