Swatow

Swatow
/swah"tow"/, n.
Older Spelling. Shantou.

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China
Chinese  (Wade-Giles) Shan-t'ou,  or (PinyinShantou,  
      city in eastern Kwangtung sheng (province), southern China. Swatow lies on the coast of the South China Sea a few miles west of the mouth of the Han River, which, with its tributary, the Mei River, drains most of eastern Kwangtung. The Han forms a delta, and Swatow is on an inlet that extends some 9.5 miles (15 km) inland on the southwest part of the delta. The city stands at the narrow seaward end of this inlet, where the delta on the north shore approaches the rocky promontory to the south. The harbour is impeded by a sandbar and is subject to irregular weather and typhoons. In 1922 a typhoon wrecked the port and killed some 50,000 people. In spite of these disadvantages, Swatow is the regional centre and chief port for the eastern part of Kwangtung. The Han is navigable by shallow-draft boats to Hsing-ning, some 20 miles (32 km) above Mei-hsien.

      Until the 19th century, Swatow was only a small fishing village subordinate to the county of Ch'ao-hai. In 1858 Ch'ao-an, a few miles up the Han River, was designated a treaty port; Swatow was opened two years later as its outport. It then developed rapidly into a major port and centre of transportation and commerce. By the 1930s Swatow had an enormous junk trade with various ports on the coasts of Fukien and Kwangtung provinces, ranking second only to Canton among the southern Chinese ports. Swatow was also one of the principal ports from which Chinese emigrants went to Southeast Asia. It has been calculated that some 2,500,000 emigrants left Swatow in 1880–1909. During the second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), the port was seriously damaged by Japanese bombardments in 1938 and was captured by the Japanese in 1939, remaining in their hands until 1945.

      Swatow obtained its first railway—a short line running to Ch'ao-an—as early as 1906. It proved, however, to be uncompetitive with local junk traffic and fell into disrepair in the 1930s, as also did a narrow-gauge line to nearby Ch'eng-hai. Swatow thus depends on the Han River and on a reasonably good highway system to give it access to its very considerable hinterland, which includes parts of southern Kiangsi and southwest Fukien provinces, as well as eastern Kwangtung.

      Swatow's principal exports are sugar, fruit, canned goods, and marine products. There has been much industrial development since 1949, with an unusually diversified range of industry. The major industries are food processing and canning, rice milling, and tobacco manufacture. There is also an engineering and shipbuilding industry, and chemicals are manufactured. Pop. (1990) 578,630.

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Universalium. 2010.

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