Haizhu District was the largest in area along with Liwan District, Yuexiu District and Dongshan District, and the least dense of the four old districts in Guangzhou before the city expanded its size to include districts such as Tianhe to the east and Baiyun to the north. Then, it was also the only island district south of the Zhujiang River, thus the natives of Guangzhou often referred to it (and still do) as Henan/Honam/Ho Nam/Hoh Naahm (河南, meaning "south of the river"), even though Henan is also the name of a province in China where its name is derived from its location south of the Yellow River.
From 1856 to 1859, trading companies associated with foreign traders under the Canton System temporarily relocated to the district after the Thirteen Factories site was destroyed in a fire.
Today, it is no longer the largest district in area nor it is the southernmost district, however, it has some of the most expensive real estate in Guangzhou. This is due to its proximity to the central city, and unlike the dense Liwan and Yuexiu Districts (Dongshan District has merged with Yuexiu in 2005 and it is now part of Yuexiu District) which have been relatively built-up, Haizhu has not. Its riverfront has some of the tallest (and expensive) residential buildings in the city which rival those in Tianhe District, another fast-growing district just east of Yuexiu, although Tianhe has the tallest office buildings in the whole city.
The main campus of Sun Yat-Sen University is located in Haizhu, as well as the Guangzhou Fine Arts Academy. Right across the street from the Sun Yat-Sen University is the South Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. And the Guangzhou No.6 High School is one of the best in the city.
Guangzhou's Metro Line 8's eastern end is in Haizhu. Metro Lines 3 runs from north to south through the District, while line 5, currently under construction, will also have stations in it. Another metro line, the Guangfo Line, is currently under construction and will connect Guangzhou and Foshan, a city just west of Guangzhou. When built, it will be the only metro line connecting two cities in China.