From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Map of Guangdong with Chaoshan and Shanwei represented in beige on the right
Map of Guangdong with Chaoshan and Shanwei represented in beige on the right
Country China
Major cities
 • Governor of GuangdongWang Weizhong
 • Metro
10,415 km2 (4,021 sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (CST)
LanguageMin (Chaoshan)

Chaoshan or Teoswa (Chinese: 潮汕; pinyin: Cháoshàn; Cantonese Yale: Chìusaan; peng'im: Dio5suan1 [ti̯o˥˥꜖꜖.sũ̯ã˧˧]) is a cultural-linguistic region in the east of Guangdong, China. It is the origin of the Min Nan Chaoshan dialect (潮汕话). The region, also known as Chiushan in Cantonese, consists of the cities Chaozhou, Jieyang and Shantou. It differs linguistically from the rest of Guangdong province, which was historically dominated by Yue speakers, Hakka, and Leizhou Min speakers.[1] However, Mandarin has recently[when?] become the dominant language in the region.[citation needed] It is historically important as the ancestral homeland of many citizens of other countries of Chinese descent, including Viets, Thais, Cambodians, Singaporeans, Malaysians, and Indonesians.

Chao Shan people are mainly spread over Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Hainan; they have emigrated and established communities in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, France, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, and other countries and coastal areas.[2] The Teochew Letters, which have been admitted into the Asia/Pacific Regional Memory of the World (MOW) Register, were family correspondence and remittance sent by Teochew immigrants in Southeast Asia to their families living in Chaoshan.


The name "Chaoshan" (潮汕) is a contraction of two prefecture-level cities in the region: Chaozhou (潮州) and Shantou (汕头). The name was first used in the 1904 construction of the Chao Chow and Swatow Railway, which connected the two major cities. Chaoshan then became the general name for four prefecture-level cities: Chaozhou, Shantou, Jieyang, and Shanwei. Chaozhou and Shantou have agglomerated into a single, dense metropolitan area, which is among China's most densely populated.[3] It is Guangdong's second largest metropolitan area, after the Guangzhou-centered Pearl River Delta. Chaozhou is a major cultural center of the Chaoshan region, and thus the descendants of overseas Chaoshan immigrants are often called "Chaozhou".[4]


Traditional courtyard mansion in Chaozhou.

The Chaoshan region, despite having the second largest economy in Guangdong after the Pearl River Delta, is still considered quite economically small in comparison to the PRD's economy.[5] Although the growth of the area's GDP stagnated in the late 1990s during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, it has experienced regional economic growth and a steady increase in GDP.[6] Li Ka-shing has also invested heavily in the education and healthcare of the region, recognizing its potential for growth; in 2023, he donated RMB 100 million to support the construction of a new inpatient building of the Chaozhou People’s Hospital.[7]

There have been proposals to the Chinese government to amalgamate the region into one Special Economic Zone,[8] as the split of the region into three cities (Chaozhou, Jieyang, and Shantou) in 1991 greatly slowed the level of economic growth in the region; in 2012, the per capita GDP of Shantou reached only US$4,250, whereas the province's total GDP per capita was US$8,600.[8] During the period 2007–2012, there was only a 10% growth in GDP, whereas the average economic growth in the whole province was around 15%. In 2007, the total GDP of the four cities in eastern Guangdong was 210.748 billion yuan, accounting for 6.56% of the total GDP of the Province. Shantou, one of the first four special economic zones opened to the outside world, ranked 11th in the province and the first of the four cities; Jieyang ranked 14th in the province and 2nd among the four cities; and Chaozhou ranked 18th in the province and 3rd among the four cities. (In economics, Fengshun County is usually not included in the statistics of the Chaoshan region.)[citation needed]


The Chaoshan region encompasses the cities of Chaozhou, Jieyang, and Shantou. It had a permanent population of 13,937,897 at the end of 2010, and covers an area of 10,415 km2 (4,021 sq mi) that stretches from Jieyang on the coast to the southern border of Fujian.[9]

Chaoshan is located in the east of Guangdong; it is bordered by Zhangzhou to its northeast and Meizhou in the northwest. The region has varying elevations, with highlands in northwest Chaoshan and low-lying deltas in the south and southeast. Two of the most notable mountain ranges in the northwest are the Phoenix Mountain Range [zh] (Chinese: 凤凰山; pinyin: Fènghuáng shān) and the Lotus Mountain Range [zh] (Chinese: 莲花山脉; pinyin: Liánhuā shānmài).[4] The region's flat terrain is served by three rivers and their tributaries: the Hanjiang (Chinese: 韩江), the Rongjiang (Chinese: 榕江), and the Lianjiang (Chinese: 练江).[4]

Chaoshan has a long coastline with many ports, reaching a total length of more than 325.6 kilometres (202.3 mi). Its coastline spreads southwest from Raoping County and is detailed by bays, inlets, and islands; the largest island being Nan'ao Island.[4]

City Romanization Population (2010) Image Information City Map
Pinyin: Shàntóu
Cantonese Yale: Saantàu
Peng'im: Suan1-tao5
Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Sòaⁿ-thâu
5,391,028 Shantou is the main city of the Chaoshan region. It is a port on the South China Sea, and is one of China's Special Economic Zones.

Districts: Jinping, Longhu, Haojiang, Chaoyang, Chaonan, Chenghai
County: Nan'ao
New Area: Haiwan

Pinyin: Jiēyáng
Cantonese Yale: Kityèung
Peng'im: Gig4-ion5
Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kiat-iông
5,877,025 Jieyang is the most populous city in the region. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in terms of population.

Districts: Rongcheng, Jiedong
Counties: Jiexi, Huilai
County-level City: Puning

Pinyin: Cháozhōu
Cantonese Yale: Chìujāu
Peng'im: Dio5-ziu1
Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tiô-chiu
2,669,844 Chaozhou is the smallest of the three cities in the Chaoshan region. It is an old town with a large historic and cultural value, which is now undergoing urbanisation.

Districts: Xiangqiao, Chao'an
County: Raoping

In March 2013, a proposal to merge Chaozhou, Jieyang, and Shantou into sub-provincial cities in Guangdong Province was submitted to the National People's Congress. Chen Jingwei, a member of the CPPCC National Committee and vice-chairman of the Federation of Chinese Industry and Commerce, submitted the proposal again in March 2014.[citation needed]


The area contains two coal-fired power plants with 1000 megawatt or greater outputs: Shantou Power Station (1200MW)[10] and Huilai Power Station (3200MW).[11]

Chaoshan is home to many active wind farms, including the Nan'ao Wind Farm complex on Nan'ao Island in Shantou, which is the largest island wind farm in Asia;[12] and the Shibeishan Wind Farm in Huilai County.[13] There are also multiple planned wind farm complexes set to start construction in 2024-2025, the most notable being Chaozhou's planned offshore wind farm in the Taiwan Strait (set to be a 43.3 gigawatt facility)[14] and the planned Guangdong Jieyang Huilai wind farm (which has five separate projects).[15]

There are also plans to build a nuclear power plant in Jieyang, although the date by which construction will start has yet to be determined.[16]

Culture and language[edit]

Chaozhou Opera

Chaoshan has a culture that is distinct from its neighbours in Guangdong and the rest of China. It does, however, share similarities to the Minnan areas just north of Chaoshan in Fujian province. One of the main reasons is its language, the Chaoshan or Swatow dialect. This variant of Chinese has eight tones, compared to the six tones found in Cantonese and the four to five tones found in Mandarin, which made it one of the most difficult ones to master.[citation needed] Music, opera and Chaozhou cuisine are further characteristics that distinguish Chaoshan people from the rest of Guangdong.

The Chaoshan dialect (潮州話/潮汕話) of Min is considered one of the more conservative Chinese dialects, as it preserves features from ancient Chinese that have been lost in some of the other modern dialects of Chinese.[17] Locals claim Chaoshan dialect is one of the oldest in China.[citation needed] It is spoken by about 10 million people in local Chaoshan and approximately two to five million overseas.[citation needed]

According to historical records, the Chaoshan dialect originated in Qin and Han Dynasties, developed in Tang and Song Dynasties, took shape in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties before forming an independent language system. Its main body is the Central Plains ancient Chinese, mixed with the Min dialect, Wang Shuo once said with a smile: "Qin Shihuang speaks a Chaozhou dialect." The Chaoshan dialect is pronounced in eight tones (four tones in Putonghua). As for the eight notes of Chaozhou, some people once summed up their image as: "Hong Kong police, old and powerless". The oldest surviving dictionary of Chaozhou sounds is "Twenty-Five Tones of Chaoyu" written by Zhang Shizhen, a merchant in Chenghai, late Qing Dynasty.

Chaozhou opera (潮劇) is a traditional art form that has a history of more than 500 years, and it has been performed in over 20 countries and regions.[18] Based on the local folk dances and ballads, Chaozhou opera has formed its own style under the influence of Nanxi opera. Nanxi is one of the oldest Chinese operas that originated in the Song Dynasty. The old form of choral accompaniment still retains its special features. Clowns and females are the most distinctive characters in a Chaozhou opera, and fan-playing and acrobatic skills are more prominent than in other types of performances.[citation needed]

Gongfu tea (工夫茶), the "espresso" of Chinese teas with a formidable kick, which was first consumed back in the Song Dynasty, is still flourishing and remains an important part of social etiquette in Chaozhou.

At the local teahouse, tea service is often accompanied by Chaozhou music (潮州音樂). Chaozhou string music, the gong and drum music, flute music are the traditional musical forms of Chaozhou music. Chaozhou string music is made up of mostly plucked and bowed string instruments, and on some occasions, wind instruments are used. The most characteristic instruments are the rihin (二弦), tihu (提胡) and yahu (all two-stringed bowed lutes), the sanxian, pipa, ruan, guzheng, and yangqin. The number of instruments and performers in the ensemble is flexible and depends on the availability of instruments and musicians to play them - but for an even and balanced texture only one of each instrument is preferred.[citation needed] Chaozhou drum music includes the big drum and gong, the small drum and gong, the dizi set drum and dong and su drum and gong ensembles. The current Chaozhou drum music is said to be similar to the form of the Drum and Wind Music of the Han and Tang Dynasties. Chaozhou guzheng (潮州古筝) is also regarded as a major genre of Southern style of Chinese guzheng.[citation needed]

Chaoshan cuisine[edit]

Chaoshan cuisine, also known as Chiuchow cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine or Teochew cuisine, originated from the Chaoshan region in the eastern part of China's Guangdong Province, which includes the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang. Relative economic and linguistic isolation (most people also speak Mandarin) has helped maintain the Chaoshan area's local traditions, which has turned into a boon for foodies.[19]

Chaoshan cuisine, similar to Cantonese cooking, is characterized by the use of ingredients such as fresh seafood, poultry, galangal, Chinese basil, and vegetables.[19] Chaoshan dishes taste fresh, light and natural. There are also unique local sauces such as pruning soy sauce, Shantou sweet and spicy sauce, garlic white vinegar sauce, and fermented fish sauce. Salty, spicy, sweet or sour, each has its own outstanding flavor.[20] Teochew (also Chaoshan or Chiu Chow or Chaozhou) cooking focuses on restraint and subtlety and avoids heavy seasonings to highlight the freshness of ingredients.[21] The ingredients of Chaoshan dishes usually include white olives, rice noodles, or mandarin oranges.[21] These ingredients often come from the sea in Chaoshan, a hundred miles up the coast from Hong Kong.[21]

The cooking methods of Chaoshan dishes are diversified, including brining, deep-frying, pan-frying, braising, alive marinating, stewing, roasting, smoking, steam stewing, dressing, etc.[20] The most used method among these is brining. Chaoshan brined meat is the signature dish in Chaoshan cuisine. Meat is brined together with rich flavors. Local dishes also use marinated raw seafood, such as colorful flower crabs steeped in a bath of vinegar, salt, chilis and cilantro.[21] The seafood cooked in this way is extremely umami.

Chaoshan has a rich history of farming and drying seaweed, which Westerners might instinctively associate with Korean and Japanese cooking.[21] The ancient Teochew tradition of preparing thinly sliced raw fish was later exported to Japan, becoming known as sashimi.[21]

The most famous culinary method in Chaoshan is marinated broth stew, where poultry (especially local geese) and other meat are slow-cooked in a highly flavored broth.[19] This is different from Cantonese food, in which barbecued meat is arguably one of the most representative dishes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Stuart Olson (1998). An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of China. Greenwood Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-313-28853-4.
  2. ^ "Teochew People". Asia Cultural Travel. 22 January 2020.
  3. ^ "China: Administrative Division (Provinces and Prefectures) - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  4. ^ a b c d An Introduction to the Culture and History of the Teochews in Singapore (pdf), World Scientific, July 2018, doi:10.1142/9789813239364_0001, S2CID 240469453
  5. ^ Tian Guang. "Soft Power and Shantou Economic Special Zone Construction : A New Breakthrough Point for Development" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  6. ^ "Article 2: Transregional Communities and the Regional Economy: A Case Study of Development in the Chaoshan Region, China". UT Planning Forum.
  7. ^ "Inspiring change since 1980". Li Ka Shing Foundation.
  8. ^ a b "Calls for the creation of new SEZ in Shantou - Business".
  9. ^ "Study in Shantou". CUCAS (China's University and College Admission System).
  10. ^ "Power plant profile: Shantou Power Plant, China". Power Technology. 24 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Power plant profile: Huilai Power Plant, China". Power Technology. 26 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Nanao III Wind Farm". CLP Group.
  13. ^ "Project 1627 : Shibeishan Wind Power Generation Project in Huilai County, Guangdong Province". CDM (Clean Development Mechanism).
  14. ^ "China is building the world's largest wind farm and it could power 13m homes". 25 October 2022.
  15. ^ "Power plant profile: Guangdong Jieyang Huilai No. 5 Wind Farm, China". Power Technology. December 2021.
  16. ^ "Nuclear Power in China". World Nuclear Association. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  17. ^ Yap, Foong Ha; Grunow-Hårsta, Karen; Wrona, Janick (2011-06-29). Nominalization in Asian Languages: Diachronic and typological perspectives. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-0677-0.
  18. ^ Miao, Lei; Wang, Qiuping (2018-05-01). "A Study on the Spread of Chaozhou Opera in Thailand under the Strategy of Maritime Silk Road" (PDF). Journal of Language Teaching and Research. 9 (3): 520. doi:10.17507/jltr.0903.10. ISSN 1798-4769.
  19. ^ a b c "Chaoshan cuisine: A culinary tour through Chaoshan". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  20. ^ a b "Chaoshan Cuisine / Teochew Cuisine in Chaozhou & Shantou". Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Chaoshan cuisine gets the spotlight on Netflix's new show, 'Flavorful Origins'". Los Angeles Times. 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-11-07.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Chaoshan at Wikimedia Commons