Shenzhen has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, approximately 6,700 years ago. However, much of its early development was during the Xia and the Shang dynasties. Shenzhen was a base for the Nanyue tribe, a subset of the Baiyue tribe, known to have relied heavily on fishing and little cultivation.
In 214 BC, Emperor Qinshihuang of the Qin Dynasty united China. As the first emperor, he merged Nanhai, Guilin, and Xiangjun, the area encompassing modern-day Guangdong and Guangxi. In order to bolster development, the emperor relocated 500,000 people from the central China plains to the south, diffusing much of the central plain culture into the south China.
During the Song Dynasty, Shenzhen became an important hub for maritime trade especially in salt and spices. And the pearl industry began to take off in the Yuan Dynasty . Dongguan and Dapeng military bases were set up in the Shenzhen area in the Ming Dynasty. With the Nantou Naval Base established on Nanshan Peninsula (south of Shenzhen) by 1565, the naval base was a monolithic military organization administering a large expanse of both land and water in the nearby region; thus was deemed "the outpost of Humen and a protective screen for the provincial capital.''
In 1573, Xin'an county was established, which is modern day Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Nantou, the county seat, was a commercial center dealing in salt, tea, spices, and rice.
As Imperial China fell, Xin'an County resumed the name of Bao'an County. During the War of Resistance against Japan, Nantou was occupied by Japanese troops and so the county government temporarily relocated to Dongguan County in 1938. In 1953, the Bao'an county seat moved eastward to the Shenzhen Township. The Guangzhou-Kowloon Railway ran through Shenzhen, industry and commerce began to prosper and resident communities emerged.
In March 1979, the Central Government and the Guangdong Provincial Government decided to rename Bao'an County Shenzhen City. The city came under the administration of Huiyang Prefecture in Guangdong Province. And by that November, the city was promoted to a prefecture directly governed by the province.
In May 1980, Shenzhen was designated as the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) by the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council. Three months later, the Standing Committee of the NPC approved its SEZ status. In March of the following year, Shenzhen gained the sub-provincial city status, the same as Guangzhou - the capital of Guangdong province. In November 1988, the State Council, as part of a greater economic development plan, gave Shenzhen the right to set up, administer and govern at the same level as a provincial-level city directly under the central government.
In July 1992, the Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress, its Standing Committee, and the Shenzhen Municipal Government were given the right to draft local laws and set local regulations by the Standing Committee of the NPC.
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