The name Meizhou comes from the Mei River and the Chinese name for the plum blossom (梅; méi). Meizhou was established as the prefecture of Jingzhou during the Southern Han (917-971). It became Meizhou at the time of Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) and Jiaying Prefecture during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). After several subsequent shifts of jurisdiction, it became Meizhou City in 1988. Meizhou is now a noted historical and cultural city.
Meizhou is located in the northeast of Guangdong Province, bordering Fujian Province in the northeast and Jiangxi Province in the northwest. The complex geological structure was formed mainly from granite, spouting rocks, metamorphic rock, shale, sandstone, red rock and limestone. Its administrative area ranges in latitude from 23° 23' to 24° 56' N and in longitude from 115° 18' to 116° 56' E, covering an area of 15,836 km2 (6,114 sq mi).
Meizhou has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with short, mild, overcast winters and long, very hot, humid summers. The monthly daily average temperature in January is 12.4 °C (54.3 °F), and in July is 28.6 °C (83.5 °F). From April to June, rainfall is the heaviest and most frequent. Though striking typhoons do not affect the area as much as the coast, the mountainous topography means that flooding is a serious concern.
The municipal government, Intermediate Court, CPC office and Public Security Bureau are located in the Jiangnan Subdistrict of the Meijiang District, on the right bank of Mei River.
Meizhou is rich in mineral and tourism resources. It has 48 kinds of minerals including coal, iron, limestone, rare clay and porcelain clay amongst others. Of these reserves manganese is ranked first in Guangdong Province. Meizhou has plenty of water resources, hot springs and certified mineral waters. There are tourism resources such as cultural historic sites constructed during the Tang Dynasty, former residences of notable figures, natural scenery of all kinds, and unique Hakka cultural sights.
Meizhou is a communication hub for the three provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangxi and the bridge connecting the coastal and the inland areas. State Highways 205 and 206 run across the city. Guangzhou-Meizhou-Shantou Railway and Meizhou-Kanshi Railway pass through the city while expressways, state, provincial county and village highways extend to all parts. The city is served by the regional Meixian Airport, with regular air routes to Guangzhou and Hong Kong. By water, the Mei River and Han River reach Chaozhou and Shantou.
Meizhou is considered the center for standard Hakka dialect, along with the neighboring Mei County and Dabu County.
Hakkas are a unique ethnic group of Han Chinese originally from around the Yellow River area, who later migrated south to avoid the chaos of war centuries ago. Due to hostility towards the new immigrants, many were forced into the mountainous regions of Guangdong Province. This migratory tradition has continued with the redistribution of Hakka people to the most remote parts of the world. Many people in Meizhou emigrated during the last century to earn money for their families, with some returning to build in their hometowns.
Many buildings are named after famous people in Meizhou, built by returning Hakkas.
Because of its mountainous location, Meizhou has numerous natural scenic areas and good air quality. Many visitors come to the Yannanfei Tea Garden to climb the mountain.
Education in Meizhou has been highly valued since ancient times. The city is home to Jiaying University, a local university which also attracts students from other provinces. The university is also known for its research into Hakka culture.
During the period after August or September, a sea of pomelos can be seen, especially in village orchards.
Salt baked chicken is one of the most well-known Hakka dishes, which can also be bought in many other cities in China. Another local dish is Yong tau foo (tofu) stuffed with meat, of which it is said that when Hakka people first came to the south, there was no wheat flour to make dumplings so they used tofu instead. They put meat and some other ingredients into the tofu to create a special taste. This recipe was handed down and became a feature of Hakka cuisine. Other foods including preserved beef and ginger candies are also popular locally.Ye Jianying (1897–1986), Chinese communist general
Huang Zunxian (1848–1905), diplomat and reformer
Lin Fengmian (1900–1991), painter
Jana Chen (1989), Singer
Lee Wai Tong (1905–1979), Chinese footballer