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In the wettest and hottest parts of Guangdong, lateritic (heavily leached, iron-bearing) soils are common; like the red soils, they do not resist erosion and require substantial fertilizing for cultivation.
The rainfall regime shows a pronounced summer maximum, with the rainy season lasting from mid-April, when Guangdong starts to be dominated by moisture-laden tropical air masses from the Equator and the Indian Ocean, until mid-October.Its topography separates it somewhat from the rest of China, and this factor—together with its long coastline, its contact with other countries through its overseas emigrants, and its early exposure to Western influence through the port of Guangzhou—resulted in the emergence of a degree of self-sufficiency and separatism. Together with the Guangxi region, Guangdong is clearly separated from the Yangtze River basin by the Nan Mountains, the southernmost of the major Chinese mountain ranges running from east to west.Guangzhou long dominated the province to an unusual extent, though that dominance has lessened somewhat as Hong Kong has been reintegrated back into China and cities around the Pearl River Delta (notably Shenzhen) have risen in prominence. The greater part of eastern Guangdong consists of the southerly extension of the Southern Uplands, which stretch down from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.The average July temperature in the Xi River valley, which is 82 to 86 °F (28 to 30 °C), is little different from temperatures in the lower Yangtze and on the Huang He, but the average January temperature is considerably higher, ranging from 55 to 61 °F (13 to 16 °C).Except at higher elevations, frost is rare, so that almost the entire province lies within the area where two crops of rice can be grown.