|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2011)|
|Around 66 million (est. worldwide)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Greater China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau), Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam), Western world (United States, Peru, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Venezuela)|
|Yue Chinese, Mandarin Chinese|
|Predominantly Chinese folk religions (which include Taoism, Confucianism, ancestral worship) and Mahayana Buddhism. Minorities: Christianity; others.|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Hong Kong people, Macanese people, Taishanese people, other Han Chinese.|
|Alternative Chinese name|
The Cantonese people (simplified Chinese: 广府人; traditional Chinese: 廣府人) are Han Chinese people whose ancestral homes are in Guangdong, China. Traditionally, the majority of Cantonese reside in Guangdong and the majority of the population of Guangdong are of Cantonese ancestry. The term "Cantonese people" would then be customarily synonymous with the Bun Dei (Chinese: 本地; Jyutping: bun2 dei6) sub-ethnic group, or Gwong Dong Jan (simplified Chinese: 广东人; traditional Chinese: 廣東人, literally "the people of Guangdong") in a broader definition. The Cantonese people are separate from the Hakka people, most of whom also live in Guangdong.
They are referred to as "Kongfu" in Malaysia and "Konghu" in Indonesia. They are referred to as "Hoa" in Vietnam. They also established Cantonese as a mainstream language in Hong Kong during the early colonial era. Taishanese people are also Cantonese but speak a different variation of the Yue language. Many world famous people of overseas Chinese have a Cantonese origin.
Famous people of Cantonese ancestry include Sun Yat-sen, Bruce Lee, Ching Shih, Lee Shau Kee, John So, Ho Ching, Yuan Chonghuan and Vivian Chow, who are some of the most influential or most powerful historical figures of Asian descent in the 20th century and in the world.
Yue Chinese, broadly "Cantonese", is its own language, with 70 million speakers. It consists of many closely related dialects native to areas of Guangdong and Guangxi. The pronunciation and vocabulary of Cantonese has also preserved many features of the official language of the Tang dynasty with elements of ancient Yue language. Cantonese is an western word used by westerners to described the native Guangdong people, who are linguistically different from the vast majority of Chinese population. The culture of the Cantonese and history of Nanyue originated in Guangdong. Abbreviation of Guangdong(粵/Yue) is an shortened form of Baiyue but carries a different meaning.
More specifically, Cantonese refers to the prestige dialect of the language native to Guangzhou. This is the language used as a lingua franca, education, media in Hong Kong, Macau, and overseas. Unlike most other varieties of Chinese, Cantonese has semi-official status in Hong Kong and Macau, and has an independent tradition of a written vernacular. Aside from Standard Mandarin, Standard Cantonese is the only other Chinese dialect/language to be internationally known world wide and has its own versions of songs, dramas, movies. Including animations and video games that are dubbed in Cantonese. In Playstation 3, Cantonese can be found spoken in popular video games such as Resident Evil 6, Grand Theft Auto IV especially in Sleeping Dogs (video game) where it is Hong Kong based and Canto-rap is also played. Many books, articles, magazines, newspapers, online chat, instant messaging, social networking websites especially Manhua can also be found written in Cantonese . Hong Kong Cantonese is therefore a cultural marker and identity for Hong Kong people to distinguish themselves from mainland Chinese.
Cantonese language opera exists in the form of Cantonese opera, which uses a theatrical form of Cantonese singing and rhyming patterns in its performances. The Cantonese opera tradition may date back as far as the Song Dynasty in the 13th century.
Due to its political and economic status of being outside the direct control of the PRC, Hong Kong has been an active (and primary) producer of Cantonese language entertainment. Cantopop, Cantonese language pop music, enjoys multinational fan base in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, China (Guangdong, Guangxi) and to a small extent Vietnam and Japan. Canton-Pop is also popular among the Cantonese community in the United States, Canada, Malaysia and Australia. The major center of the Cantonese music industry is in Hong Kong. Well-known Cantopop artistes include Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Joey Yung, Alan Tam, Roman Tam, Danny Chan, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai, Faye Wong, Sammi Cheng, and Coco Lee. Many of these well known stars are Cantonese, and from the families of other internal Chinese immigrants.
Hong Kong's Cantonese-language cinema is a thriving industry that enjoys international fame. One of the world's largest motion picture industries, recent films such as Kung Fu Hustle and Infernal Affairs have generated acclaim worldwide. For some decades Hong Kong Cantonese speaking movie was the third largest motion picture industry in the world (after Bollywood and Hollywood) and the second largest exporter of films, due to popular Hong Kong action films. Cantonese speaking movies can be found exported around the world particular in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Korea and Japan.
Cantonese cuisine is one of the most famous types of cuisine, popular both within and outside China and is characterized by its variety of cooking methods, freshness and use of seafood.Dim sum is equally famous for its variety of small servings.
- Yuan Chonghuan was a Ming Dynasty general famed for defeating the founder of Qing dynasty Nurchaci in the first battle as well as defeating Huang Taiji banner of 200,000 Manchu and Mongol soldiers in second battle with 9000 soldiers. It was because of Yuan Chonghuan that Nurhaci never recovered from the battle and died from his wounds.
- Ching Shih was the world greatest female pirate, she commanded 1800 ships and had more than 80000 pirates — men, women, and even children. She challenged the world superpower empires at the time like British, Portuguese, Qing dynasty and was undefeated. She was ranked as number 1 most successful pirate in history.
- Ho Ching is one of the "100 most influential men and women" who shaped the world by TIME magazine. The same magazine ranked her third in the list of most powerful women in business (outside the United States). Similarly in 2007, business magazine Forbes ranked her third in its annual list of the world's most powerful women. In 2011, Ho was included in the ‘50 Most Influential’ ranking by Bloomberg Markets magazine. In 2013, Ho was ranked ninth on the Public Investor 100 ranking compiled by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. As of 2014, she is listed as the 59th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
- Bruce Lee is one of the "100 most influential people" in history and in the 20th century. He is considered to be the world most influential martial artist icon, the UFC president, Dana White considers Bruce Lee to be the " father of modern mix martial arts." He was born to a Cantonese father and mother of Eurasian origin.
- Stephen Chow known as the "king of comedy" in Hong Kong and Asian movies, and for his Hollywood block buster movies shaolin soccer and Kungfu hustle. His father is from Zhenjiang while his mother is Cantonese.
- Lee Shau Kee was the 4th world richest person in world before the handover of HK in 1997. He is now is the fifth richest person in Asia with $18.5 billion, ranking him 28th among the world's richest people.
- John So was the first Lord Mayor in Australia's city of Melbourne to be directly elected by the people. He was also the first mayor of Asian descent to win the World Mayor title in 2006.
- Patrick Soon-Shiong A famous surgeon who performed the first encapsulated human and invented the first FDA approved protein nanoparticle technology . In 2011 Forbes ranked Taishanese businessman fortune at $7.2 billion, ranking him #39 among US billionaires
- Plaek Phibunsongkhram A prime minister of Thailand and military dictator, his father was Cantonese. Phibunsongkhram allied with Japan and declared war on Britain and the United States.
- Liang Daoming was a king of Palembang, the capital city of Sumatran Indonesia. He had thousands of followers and a sizable military troop and established trading ports in peninsula.
- Mac Cuu was a king of Ha tien, in Cambodia where he established an independent kingdom and played a role in relations between Cambodia and Vietnam. His kingdom lasted for a century and transformed it into a busy and popular destination.
- Jiang Guangnai was a general and statesman in the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. He successfully defended Shanghai from the Japanese invasion, it was remembered as January 28 Incident.
- Wong Fei Hung was a very famous martial artist during the Qing dynasty period, and the subject of numerous films and television series.
- Ming Hsieh ) is a billionaire American entrepreneur and philanthropist and the founder of Cogent Systems in 1990. According to Forbes magazine, his estimated net worth exceeds $1.6 billion, ranking him the 198th richest person in America and 562nd among The World's Richest People In 2006.
- Exo (band) Kris, leader of a famous K-pop boyband.
- Henry Lau youngest member of the Super Junior unit group, Super Junior-M
- Yip Man was a Chinese martial artist. He had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right, including Bruce Lee. Ip Man (film), a Hong Kong film loosely based on the life of Yip Man, starring Donnie Yen as the martial artist, was released in cinemas in 2008.
- Edmund Ho was the first Chief Executive of Macao SAR.
- Liu Yan (emperor) was a king of Nanhai and first emperor of the Yue/ Han kingdom that lasted from 917 - 971. Its territories included Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan Island and Hanoi (north Vietnam). He commanded 100,000 soldiers in Battle of Bach Dang River (938) to subdue all of Vietnam under han rule, but his invasion was unsuccessful.
- Wong Peng Soon also known as "Great Wong", was the first Asian to win All-England Championships,and won the title again in 1951, 1952, and 1955. He won 7 single titles in Singapore and 8 titles in Malaysia as well as being a top player in Danish open, the Indian Open, and the Philippines Open. He made local history as the first and still the only sportsperson to date to be awarded the Sijil Kemuliaan. He is regarded as one of the "Wong was one of the most remarkable players" by H.I ward.
- Wen Zongyao served as a deputy president in Tibet during the Qing dynasty and supported the Xinhui revolution.
- Wu Tingfang served as China's foreign minister during the Qing dynasty.
- Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong's top action star, and currently the highest paid actor in the whole of Asia.
- Norman Kwong was the 16th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta in Canada.
- Patrick Chan is a Chinese Canadian male figure skater, 2011 World Champion, 2010–2011 Grand Prix Final Champion, the 2009 Four Continents Champion, the 2009 and 2010 World silver medalist, the 2007 World Junior silver medalist and a four-time (2008–2011) Canadian Champion.
- Michelle Kwan is a Chinese American female figure skater and a five-time (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 & 2003) World champion.
- Yi Jianlian is a 7 ft tall Chinese basketball player; he played for NBA, Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, and Washington Wizards.
- Arthur Chin was borned to a father of Cantonese origin and a Caucasian mother of Peruvian background. Chin is recognized as America's first ace in World War II. Credited for destroying nine enemy aircraft between 1937-1939 during Sino-Japanese War.
- Mei Quong Tart was one of Sydney's most famous and well-loved personalities, and made a significant impact on the social and political scene of Sydney at a time of strong anti-Chinese sentiment in Australia.
- Hiram Fong was a politician and the first Asian American and Chinese to be elected as Republican United States Senator. He was also the first Asian American and Chinese to be nominated for presidency of the United States.
- Gary Locke is the first governor of a state in the Continental United States of Asian descent, and remains the only Chinese American ever to serve as a governor.
- Judy Chu is the first Chinese American woman ever elected to the United States Congress.
- Julius Chan was born to a Cantonese father from Taishan. He was the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea from 1980 to 1982, and from 1994 to 1997.
- John Woo is a respected Hong Kong and Hollywood director. In 2002, he was mentioned to be "arguably the most influential director making movies today"
- Liu Chang was the last emperor of Southern Han Kingdom. He became emperor at the age of 16, and was famous for his lust with Persian girls who were prominent in his harem. Liu Chang also had a Persian princess in his harem.
- Steven Lo is responsible in making teams and clubs to become more successful and popular than ever before. He served as an adviser and team manager for the Hong Kong Football Association during 2009 where Hong Kong became champion of East Asian football in 2009, and South China club have also became semi-finalist in AFC cup.
- Lee Siew Choh was a politician and medical doctor from Singapore. Initially a member of the People's Action Party (PAP), he became Singapore's first Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP).
- Tony Leung Chiu-Wai is a Hong Kong award-winning best actor in Cannes Film Festival in 2000, and in Asian Film Awards 2008.
- Andy Lau is one of Hong Kong's most commercially successful film actors since the mid-1980s.
- Aaron Kwok is one of Hong Kong's best dancer and singer since the early-1990s.
- Amy Kwok Miss Hong Kong and actress.
- Jimmy Lai is the founder of Giordano, one of Asia's largest retailers which employs more than 11,000 employees in 1,700 shops across 30 territories worldwide.
- Chu Ching-wu was an invited contributor to the White House National Millennium Time Capsule at the National Archives in 2000 and was selected the Best Researcher in the U.S. by US and World Report in 1990.
- Chin Gee Hee was a merchant in America who founded the Quong Tuck Railway which contributed rail way workers to help the completion of projects such as the Great Northern Railway and the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad.
- James Wong Howe was one of the leading cinematographers in Hollywood in 1930's - 1940's. He was nominated for ten Academy Awards for cinematography, winning twice.
- Deng Shichang was one of the first generation of modern naval officers trained in China who fought bravely against the Japanese. The People's Liberation Army Navy named a naval training ship as Shichang in remembrance of him.
- Tse Tsan-tai was one of the earliest Chinese revolutionaries of the late Qing Dynasty. He started the first uprising Tse wrote the first declaration of the Revive China Society, with an open letter to Guangxu Emperor in English. He was also the first Chinese to fly and airplane. He published also had an significant contribution to Chinese patriots anti feelings against Qing and western powers.
- Peter Chin is an old generation Cantonese New Zealander, a lawyer and was the 56th Mayor of Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Choh Hao Li was a Chinese-borned U.S. biochemist. He was the first person to discovered that human pituitary growth hormone (somatotropin) consists of a chain of 256 amino acids, and first to succeeded in synthesizing this hormone.
- Loke Yew was regarded as the richest man in Malaysia during his time and played a significant role in the growth of Kuala Lumpur, and was also one of the founding fathers of Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur.
- Liang Qichao was described as the greatest personality in the history of Chinese journalism, and was also characterized by one biographer as "a brilliant scholar, journalist, and political figure".
- Anna May Wong was the first Asian American to become an international star.
- John Yap is a Canadian politician and is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Clean Technology to the Minister of Energy and Mines
- Ma Sicong was referred to in China as "The King of violinists" and has great influence in music of modern China.
- Meng Foon is the current mayor of Gisborne, New Zealand and is the first person to serve four consecutive terms since Harry Barker retired in 1977.
- Chan Heung was one of the famous martial artists of Southern China. He was the founder of Choy Li Fut martial art systems, and his martial art schools are now found throughout the world.
- Eason Chan is a prominent male singer in Hong Kong's music industry. Chan has been praised by Time magazine as a front runner in the next generation of Cantopop. He is considered by some to be Hong Kong's third "god of song" after Samuel Hui and Jacky Cheung. In 2012, Time Out Hong Kong crowned Chan as the "King of Asian Pop". Chan is ranked #6 in the 2013 Forbes China Celebrity Top 100 List.
- Rainie Yang is a Taiwanese singer who has won multiple awards, Golden Bell Awards lead actress and talk show host.
- Vivian Chow is a Hong Kong based Cantopop singer and actress. She is well known for her ladylike stage image as well as her charity works for animal rights and breast cancer awareness.
- Cheng I was a Cantonese pirate who became the strongest pirate in China; his lover and wife was Ching Shi.
- Ah Pak was chieftain of Cantonese pirate that defeated the Portuguese pirates, including massacred of Portuguese pirates and Civilians in Ningpo, he also requested the massacre all foreigners, whether Portuguese, English, or American.
- Chen Zuyi was a 14th-century respected and feared pirate operating in the seas of southeast Asia. He ruled and occupied the city of Palembang and sent numerous raids to the Strait of Malacca, preying on both native and foreign merchants for several years.
Cantonese who contributed to modern history of China and Hong Kong
- Ta-You Wu - Father of Chinese physics
- Lai Man-Wai - Father of Hong Kong cinema
- Feng Ru - Father of Chinese aviation
- Liang Sicheng - Father of modern Chinese architecture
- Hu Die - 3rd Empress of Chinese movie
- Li Xiaqing - China's first lady of flight
- Dai AiLian - Mother of Chinese dance
Cantonese Cultural hub
Hong Kong and Macau are two cultural hub centers for Cantonese people, it is two of the top 50 richest international cities in the world. They are also two of the highest GPD per capita in China. The type of Cantonese that is spoken in Hong Kong and Macau is called Guangzhouwa, which originated in Guangzhou city, which is also an cultural hub for Cantonese. Guangzhou was also ranked a world city in 2008. It also became a city for migrant workers, which has constituted 40% of Guangzhou population, though many of these migrants speak mandarin. As a result Guangzhou is no longer a cultural hub for Cantonese alone.
Unlike China, both Hong Kong and Macau retained a high level of autonomy and freedom, with different legal codes as compared to China proper. The colonies originally had only few people, so the British and Portuguese encouraged Chinese migration to their respective colonies, and relied on them to build western architecture for Europeans and Chinese architecture for Chinese. Due to these migrations, both of the cities became a linguistically and culturally Cantonese, due to the vast majority of migrants being Cantonese. As a result, the culture of Cantonese began merging with western culture. Hong Kong's and Macau's cultures are generally viewed as where the "East meets West". Macau is also a World cultural heritage site (Historic Centre of Macau). Guangzhou was historically one of China's international trading ports since the Tang dynasty and Ming dynasty.
In the 17th century Guangzhou quickly emerged as one of the most suitable ports for international trade before long ships arrived from all over the world. Many empires frequented the port through Canton System in hopes to trade Chinese silk, porcelain ("fine china") and most lucratively, tea. By the middle of the 18th century, Guangzhou had emerged as one of the world's great trading ports under the Thirteen Factories. The privilege during this period made Guangzhou one of the top 3 cities in the world. Cantonese links to overseas Chinese and beneficial tax reforms of the 1990s have aided the city's rapid growth.
The British empire first colonized the empty Hong Kong Island in 1842, however it was in 1898 - 1997 that Hong Kong truly became an colony when the British empire added the New territories which constituted 86.2% of Hong Kong's modern territory, and it was this time that Chinese migrants (not only Cantonese but also other Han Chinese subgroups etc.) started entering to this colony. It is today one of the world's leading international financial centers, and is ranked as the 5th world city. It is also the eighth most traded currency in the world.
While it became, officially, a colony of the Portuguese Empire in 1887, parts of the city were first loaned to the Portuguese by the Chinese empire as a trading centre in the 16th century. Portugal was required to administer the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty. Portugal later occupied the two closest offshore islands, Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. Macau was handed back to China in 1999, and by 2002, it had become one of the world's richest cities. In 2004, the World's Highest Skyjump was broken in Macau. It became the world's biggest gambling centre in 2006.
Cantonese influence on Xinhai Revolution
The Xinhai revolution was the instrument that overthrew the corrupt Qing dynasty that would later bring Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and other regions under Han Chinese rule once again. During the Xinhai Revolution, many patriotic Cantonese performers promoted the idea of fighting with the Qing Dynasty, imperialism and feudalism through their performances in Cantonese opera. Troops of Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary army (made up overwhelmingly of Cantonese). Most of the early revolutionary leaders were also Cantonese. In 1895, Guangzhou started its first uprising against Qing dynasty. It would later become to known as the "cradle of the Xinhai revolution". Hong Kong was the cradle of Sun Yat Sen's revolutionary thoughts and the base for subsequent uprisings. An important place for propaganda, Hong Kong saw the founding of the first revolutionary newspaper. Zhongshan was the birthplace of first president of China and native Cantonese dialect of Sun Yat Sen.
Until the 19th century, Cantonese history was largely part of the history of Guangdong. What is now Guangdong was first brought under Qin influence by a Qin Dynasty general named Zhao Tuo who later founded the kingdom of Nanyue in 204 BC, and became the strongest Baiyue state in China with many neighboring kingdoms declaring their allegiance to Nanyue rule. Zhao Tuo assimilated cultures of both Han and Yue as well as encouraging intermarriage. Nanyue under Zhao Tuo sacked the Han territory of Hunan in its capital city and defeated Han Dynasty's first attack on Nanyue. He later annexed the kingdom of Minyue in the east and conquered Au Lac (North Vietnam) to the west in 179 BC. The greatly expanded Nanyue included the territories of modern-day Guangdong, Guangxi and northern Vietnam with its capital situated at modern-day Guangzhou. The original people of Guangdong belonged to the Yue until that kingdom was fully brought under Han control of Han Dynasty in 111 BC after the Han–Nanyue War, but it wasn't until subsequent dynasties such as the Jin Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty that major waves of Han Chinese literati migration to the south of Guangdong occurred. Migrations came in waves, displacing and assimilating the existing populations with intermarriage at different time periods, but some native groups like the Zhuang still reside.The Cantonese often call themselves "people of Tang". This is because of the Inter-mixture between native and Han immigrants in Guangdong reached a critical mass of acculturation during the Tang dynasty, creating an new local identity among the Guangdong people. Some studies have shown that most Cantonese have a mixture of DNA ancestry from Han Chinese from the North and Yue from the South with the exception of the Ping-Yue branch of Pinghua and the Tanka who speaks various types of dialects are genetically in common with the Southern ethnic minorities of China with little to no Han Chinese ancestry, some scholars believe that they are the sinicized descendants of Baiyue stock.
From the tenth to twelfth century, Persian women were to be found in Guangzhou (Canton), some of them in the tenth century like Mei Zhu in the harem of the Emperor Liu Chang, and in the twelfth century large numbers of Persian women lived there, noted for wearing multiple earrings and "quarrelsome dispositions". Some scholars did not differentiate between Persian and Arab, and some say that the Chinese called all women coming from the Persian Gulf "Persian Women".
The first conflict between the Cantonese and Europeans was the Ningpo Massacre, where the Cantonese defeated a group of Portuguese pirates. During the 19th century, the First (1839–1842) and Second Opium War (1856–1860) with the West resulted in China's loss of control over Hong Kong and Kowloon, which were ceded to the British. Macau, a Portuguese settlement subjected to Chinese sovereignty since the Ming Dynasty (16th century), was subsequently turned into a colony although self-administration was not achieved until the 1840s. These colonies make up roughly less than 2% of Guangdong territories. An Third Pandemic broke out from Yunnan and spread to the city of Canton, beginning in March 1894; the disease killed 60,000 people in a few weeks. It then spread to the water traffic with the nearby city of Hong Kong. Within two months, after 100,000 deaths, the death rates dropped below epidemic rates, although the disease continued to be endemic in Hong Kong until 1929. Plague came to India in 1896, most likely from Hong Kong, where the epidemic had been festering since 1894. In India, 12.5 million Indians lost the their lives to the disease.
The turmoil of the second half of the 19th century compelled many residents of Guangdong to seek their fortunes overseas. Until the second half of the 20th century, the majority of overseas Chinese emigrated from two of China, Fujian and Guangdong. As a result of these migrations, many Chinese with a Cantonese background have settled throughout the world, particularly in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Pacific Islands, where they have established communities and mostly intermarried with local women, due to all the migrations being almost entirely of men. High numbers of Interracial marriage between Cantonese men with women from other countries has produced a high numbers of Eurasians and mixed origins in countries such as Peru, Cuba, Madagascar, Mexico, Australia, America Hawaii, Guyana, Costa Rica. A small number of hundreds to thousand Cantonese men also married British women in the UK  and resulted in number of Chinese-Eurasian community in Chinatown, Liverpool. Ernest John Eitel mentioned in 1889 how important change had taken place among Eurasian girls, the offspring of illicit connections: Instead of becoming concubines, they were commonly brought up respectably and married to Hong Kong Chinese husbands and became assimilated into the Hong Kong Cantonese population. An example of a Cantonese Eurasian is Nancy Kwan, one of Hollywood sex symbol, she was of Eurasian origin born in 1939 in Hong Kong to a father of a Cantonese architect and mother who is an model of British and Scottish descent. The world most influential martial artist icon Bruce Lee, was also born to parents of Hong Kong heritage to a Cantonese father and a Eurasian mother.
Unlike the migrants from Fujian, who mostly settled in Southeast Asia, many Cantonese emigrants also migrated to the western hemisphere, particularly the United States and Canada. Chinese immigrants in North America were brought as cheap labourers to build the transcontinental railroads in the United States and Canada, while those in South America were mostly forced laborers brought in as coolies. Chinese in California participated in the California Gold Rush, while Chinese in Hawaii found employment in sugar plantations as contract laborers. Chinese also played a significant role in Australia's gold rush, from 1854 onwards. These early immigrants founded communities of Chinatowns but also faced hostility and a variety of discriminatory laws that targeted them. This includes denying the immigration of women to prevent Chinese families from taking root, culminating in anti-immigration laws that restricted Chinese migration. A large proportion of these early immigrants came from the Sze Yup (Seiyap) region of Guangdong. As a result, these early communities spoke mostly Taishanese, one of the dialects of Yue distinctive from Cantonese. The Taishan (, Hoisan) dialect is still spoken in Chinese communities in the Americas, by older people as well as more recent immigrants from Taishan. The relaxing of immigration laws after World War II allowed for subsequent waves of migration to the United States from both mainland China and Hong Kong, while the majority of the Chinese-Vietnamese boat people from the Vietnam War spoke Cantonese either as a first or secondary language. As a result, Cantonese continues to be widely used by Chinese communities of Guangdong and Hong Kong origin in the western world and has not been supplanted by Standard Chinese.
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