Shenzhen (深圳; Shēnzhèn) is a city in Guangdong Province in China. It lies immediately North of Hong Kong separated for the most part by a narrow river. Shenzhen lies directly en route between Hong Kong and China's third-largest city, Guangzhou which is approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) North West of Shenzhen. Shenzhen was a market town of 30,000 people until designated in 1980 as the first of China's five Special Economic Zones. It then became the fastest growing city in history to today become a thriving, well planned metropolis of 20 million people.
The earliest known recorded mention of the name Shenzhen could date from 1410, during the Ming Dynasty. Local people called the drains in paddy fields “zhen” (圳). Shenzhen (深圳) literally means “deep drains” as the area was once crisscrossed with rivers and streams, with deep drains within the paddy fields. The character 圳 is limited in distribution to an area of South China with its most northerly examples in Zhejiang Province which suggests an association with southwards migration during the Southern Song Dynasty (12th and 13th centuries). Contrary to a common misconception of Shenzhen being a fishing village prior to becoming a city, Shenzhen was a regional market town that had been the county town of Bao'an since 1953. Shenzhen train station was the last stop on the Mainland Chinese section of the railway from Guangzhou to Kowloon in Hong Kong. In November 1979, Bao'an County (宝安县) was promoted to prefecture level, directly governed by Guangdong province. It was renamed Shenzhen, after Shenzhen town. The administrative centre of the county stood approximately around the present location of Dongmen.