The town was established in 1271 by two brothers carrying their fathers bones. They were fleeing south from the Mongols on a bamboo raft when a violent storm shipwrecked them. The brothers settled down there and the position of the wreck is commemorated by a shrine. This area was named Broken Raft Point.
In May 2010, 2,000 workers at a Honda transmission plant went on strike in the Nanhai district.The trigger was a rise of the legal local minimum wage from $123 to $147, announced by the city government May 1 in response to rapidly rising costs of living. The workers expected a raise in their monthly wages equal to this amount. Factory management added $24 to the transmission workers’ monthly base wage but reduced their monthly subsidies (for food, housing, and regular attendance) from $48 to $29. The net gain was only $5 per month.