Our estimate of the Guangzhou population (2017) is 13,476,852.

This is based on extrapolating the latest data from the Chinese government which showed that the 2014 population of Guangzhou was 13,080,500. (See below for an explanation of how we reached this estimate).

Based on the 2014 population of 13.08 million Guangzhou is the third largest city in China, after Shanghai (24 million) and Beijing (21 million).

Guangzhou, previously known as Canton, is the largest city in Guangdong province, and is a part of the Pearl River Delta Mega City. This massive urban area includes other major Chinese cities such as Shenzhen and Dongguan. In total, the Pearl River Delta Megacity has a population of 44 million people.

The number of people living in Guangzhou varies throughout the year because it attracts many seasonal migrants, who only live in the city for part of the year. This floating migrant population helps the city to maintain a flexible labour market, that can respond to increases and decreases in demand for work.

Guangzhou population by year

The following table shows the population of Guangzhou since 1950. Figures between 1950 and 2000 are for every decade. Figures since 2005 show population growth in Guangzhou updated every year.

 Year  Population  Percentage change
 1950  2.56 million  n/a
 1960  3.68 million  +43.4%
 1970  4.18 million  +13.6%
 1980  5.01 million  +18.4%
 1990  5.94 million  +18.4%
 2000  9.94 million  +67.3%
 2002  10.10 million  +1.6%
 2005  9.49 million  -6.0%
 2006  9.96 million  +4.9%
2007 10.53 million +5.7%
2008 11.15 million  +5.9%
2009 11.86 million +6.4%
2010 12.70 million +7.0%
2011 12.75 million +0.4%
2012 12.82 million +0.6%
2013 12.92 million +0.7%
2014 13.08 million +1.2%

The rate of population growth in Guangzhou is difficult to predict because it varies so widely – in the last ten years alone, the rate has been as high as 7% per annum (2010) and as low as 0.4% per annum (2013).

It is likely that economic factors have a major impact on population growth, and growth is likely to be highest when the economy is doing well, and there are jobs in Guangzhou that attract internal migrants. Likewise, growth is likely to be slower when the economy is doing less well, and new jobs are harder to come by.

How many people live in Guangzhou today?

Assuming a growth rate of 1% a year, which seems reasonable given recent trends, we can make an educated guess as to what the 2016 population of Guangzhou might be.

Taking the 2014 population of 13,080,500 as our starting point, a 1% increase in population would result in a 2015 population of 13,211,305. Adding a further 1% to that figure would mean that the number of people living in Guangzhou in 2016 would have been 13,343,418 and (if a further 1% is added to the 2016 population) the Guangzhou population in 2017 would be 13,476,852.

It is worth noting, however, that this is a very conservative estimate of growth.

Guangzhou population projections

By 2020, it is estimated that there will be more than 18 million people living in Guangzhou. This growth will be caused mostly by internal migration, but there are concerns that the relaxation of China’s one child policy will also boost population growth.

This has caused alarm in the Chinese government, because such rapid population growth will place a major strain on the city’s infrastructure – roads, urban transit, healthcare, housing, etc.

To combat this, plans are being developed to limit population growth in Guangzhou.

Guangzhou population density

Guangzhou is one of the more densely populated cities in China – at last count, population density in Guangzhou was 1,708 people per square kilometer.

The urban population of Guangzhou is slightly lower – at 11,070,654. The remainder of the population lives in Guangzhou’s rural areas.

Population of Guangzhou by administrative district

Here is a map and table that shows each administrative district in Guangzhou and the number of people who live in each.

Map of Guangzhou districts

District name Population (2010)
Liwan 898,200
Yuexiu 1,157,666
Haizhu 1,558,663
Tianhe 1,432,426
Baiyun 2,223,150
Huangpu 831,586
Panyu 1,764,828
Huadu 945,005
Nansha 259,900
Conghua 593,415
Zengcheng 1,037,109

As you can see from the table, districts in the centre and west of the city are the most populous, and the most densely populated. They could be considered the city’s urban areas.

Those in the north, east and south of the city are much less densely populated, and could be considered its rural areas.

Where is Guangzhou located?

Here is a map which shows where Guangzhou is located in China.

Where is Guangzhou located in China map
Guangzhou is in Southern China, in Guangdong province. Located on the Pearl River, just inland from the Southern cost, and just 75 miles north of Hong Kong and next to the special economic zone of Shenzhen, its location is perfect for a major trading and manufacturing city.

It is one of the richest cities in China – Guangzhou’s nominal GDP in 2013 was $248 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the economy of Ireland. GDP per capita was $19,459, almost three times the average GDP per capita of China for 2013 ($6,995).