China’s Smallest Town

city facts

In March, the National Geographic published an article about Dongguan’s Shilong Town in its Chinese website, attracting the attention of local media. The article introduced Shilong’s long history and cultural areas. With a little more than 10 square kilometers, Shilong is the smallest town in the whole country.

Since 400 years ago, it had been one of the most prosperous business centers in Guangdong, relying on the advantageous location near the Dongjiang River. At the beginning of the 20th century, the opening of Kowloon-Canton Railway had revolutionarily changed freight transportation, meaning Shilong lost its advantage of being a unique waterway hub for inland shipments. However, it soon adapted to the modern business model that railways brought and its merchant culture was revived.

Zhongshan Road, named after the revolutionary and political leader Sun Yat-sen, was one of the most affluent streets built in 1929. The 1500-meter-long street was crammed with all kinds of vendors, shops and banks selling everything from bamboo knitwear to shoes and drums. Even now, some parents still believe that their kids will make more money by becoming merchants rather than learning in universities.