Shanghai is the most populous city in both China and Asia as well as the most populous city properin the world. It is the second most populous of the fourdirect-controlled municipalitiesin mainland China, with a population of more than 24 million as of 2014. It is a global financial center, and a transport hub with the world's busiest container port. Located in the Yangtze River Delta in East China, Shanghai sits on the south edge of the mouth of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the north, south and west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.
For centuries a major administrative, shipping, and trading town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to European recognition of its favorable port location and economic potential. The city was one of five forced open to foreign trade following the British victory over China in the First Opium War while the subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking and 1844 Treaty of Whampoa allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement and the French Concession. The city then flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became the undisputed financial hub of the Asia-Pacific region in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was limited to socialist countries, and the city's global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaopingresulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city.
Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple,Yu Garden, the extensive Lujiazui skyline, many skyscrapers, and major museums including the Shanghai Museum and the China Art Museum. It has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China.
Shanghai (上海 Shànghǎi) is the largest and most developed city in China, the country's main center for finance and fashion, and one of the world's most populous and important cities.
Shanghai has existed for centuries but grew enormously after it became a major center of the China trade in the 1840s. By the early 20th century, Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East, and one of the wildest. With the opening up of China in the past few decades, Shanghai has regained much of its former glory and has surpassed it in many ways; the pace of development in recent years has been absolutely furious. Today, Shanghai is back to being one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Asia, though not nearly as wild as it once was. It is now a very attractive city for travellers from all over the world, and a major destination for both tourism and business. A Forbes article ranks Shanghai as the world's 14th most visited city, with 6.5 million visitors in 2012.
Shanghai is definitely a cosmopolitan city by Chinese standards, although it is less diverse than many western cities. The population was 23 million as of the 2010 census; 9 million (almost 40%) of those were migrants, people from elsewhere in China who have come to find work or to attend one of Shanghai's many educational institutions. There is also a substantial international contingent: 208,300 foreigners lived in Shanghai as of 2010, slightly over a third of the national total of 594,000. There are services that cater to these markets — restaurants with food from anywhere in China for the migrants (in particular, lots of good cheap Sichuan food and West-of-China noodles) and a good range of grocery stores, restaurants and bars that cater to the foreigners.
During the Spring and Autumn period, the Shanghai area belonged to the Kingdom of Wu, which was conquered by the Kingdom of Yue, which in turn was conquered by the Kingdom of Chu. During the Warring States period, Shanghai was part of the fief of Lord Chunshen of Chu, one of the Four Lords of the Warring States. He ordered the excavation of the Huangpu River. Its former or poetic name, the Chunshen River, gave Shanghai its nickname of "Shen". Fishermen living in the Shanghai area created a fishing tool called the hu, which lent its name to the outlet of Suzhou Creek north of the Old City and became a common nickname and abbreviation for the city.
Two important events helped promote Shanghai's development in the Ming dynasty. A city wall was built for the first time in 1554 to protect the town from raids by Japanese pirates. It measured 10 metres (33 feet) high and 5 kilometres (3 miles) in circumference. During the Wanli reign (1573–1620), Shanghai received an important psychological boost from the erection of a City God Temple in 1602. This honour was usually reserved for places with the status of a city, such as a prefectural capital not normally given to a mere county town, as Shanghai was. It probably reflected the town's economic importance, as opposed to its low political status.
During the Qing dynasty, Shanghai became one of the most important sea ports in the Yangtze Delta region as a result of two important central government policy changes: In 1684, the Kangxi Emperor reversed the Ming dynasty prohibition on oceangoing vessels – a ban that had been in force since 1525; and in 1732 the Yongzheng Emperor moved the customs office for Jiangsu province from the prefectural capital of Songjiang to Shanghai, and gave Shanghai exclusive control over customs collections for Jiangsu's foreign trade. As a result of these two critical decisions, by 1735 Shanghai had become the major trade port for all of the lower Yangtze region, despite still being at the lowest administrative level in the political hierarchy.
Early modern history
International attention to Shanghai grew in the 19th century due to European recognition of its economic and trade potential at the Yangtze. During the First Opium War (1839–1842), British forces occupied the city. The war ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, which allowed the British to dictate opening the treaty ports, Shanghai included, for international trade. The Treaty of the Bogue signed in 1843, and the Sino-American Treaty of Wanghia signed in 1844 forced Chinese concession to European and American desires for visitation and trade on Chinese soil. Britain, France (under the 1844 Treaty of Whampoa), and the United States all carved outconcessions outside the walled city of Shanghai, which was still ruled by the Chinese.
The Chinese-held old city of Shanghai fell to the rebels of the Small Swords Society in 1853 but was recovered by the Qing government in February 1855. In 1854, the Shanghai Municipal Council was created to manage the foreign settlements. Between 1860–1862, the Taiping rebels twice attackedShanghai and destroyed the city's eastern and southern suburbs, but failed to take the city. In 1863, the British settlement to the south of Suzhou Creek(northern Huangpu District) and the American settlement to the north (southern Hongkou District) joined in order to form the Shanghai International Settlement. The French opted out of the Shanghai Municipal Council and maintained its own concession to the south and southwest.
Citizens of many countries and all continents came to Shanghai to live and work during the ensuing decades; those who stayed for long periods – some for generations – called themselves "Shanghailanders". In the 1920s and 1930s, almost 20,000 White Russians and Russian Jews fled the newly established Soviet Union and took up residence in Shanghai. These Shanghai Russians constituted the second-largest foreign community. By 1932, Shanghai had become the world's fifth largest city and home to 70,000 foreigners. In the 1930s, some 30,000 Jewish refugees from Europe arrived in the city.
The Sino-Japanese War concluded with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which elevated Japan to become another foreign power in Shanghai. Japan built the first factories in Shanghai, which were soon copied by other foreign powers. Shanghai was then the most important financial center in the Far East. All this international activity gave Shanghai the nickname "the Great Athens of China"
Under the Republic of China, Shanghai's political status was raised to that of a municipality on 14 July 1927. Although the territory of the foreign concessions was excluded from their control, this new Chinese municipality still covered an area of 828.8 square kilometres (320.0 sq mi), including the modern-day districts of Baoshan, Yangpu, Zhabei, Nanshi, and Pudong. Headed by a Chinese mayor and municipal council, the new city government's first task was to create a new city center in Jiangwan town of Yangpu district, outside the boundaries of the foreign concessions. The "Greater Shanghai Plan" included a public museum, library, sports stadium, and city hall, which were partially constructed when the plan was interrupted by the Japanese invasion.
On 28 January 1932, Japanese forces struck and the Chinese resisted, fighting to a standstill; a ceasefire was brokered in May. The Battle of Shanghai in 1937 resulted in the occupation of the Chinese administered parts of Shanghai outside of the International Settlement and the French Concession. The foreign concessions were occupied by the Japanese on 8 December 1941 and remained occupied until Japan's surrender in 1945, during which time war crimes were committed.
On 27 May 1949, the People's Liberation Army took control of Shanghai. Under the new People's Republic of China (PRC), Shanghai was one of only three municipalities not merged into neighboring provinces over the next decade (the others being Beijing and Tianjin). Shanghai underwent a series of changes in the boundaries of its subdivisions over the next decade. After 1949, most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong, as part of a foreign divestment due to the Communist victory.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Shanghai became the center for radical leftism since it was the industrial centre of China with most skilled industrial workers. The radical leftist Jiang Qing and her three cohorts, together the Gang of Four, were based in the city. Yet, even during the most tumultuous times of the Cultural Revolution, Shanghai was able to maintain high economic productivity and relative social stability. During most of the history of the PRC, Shanghai has been a comparatively heavy contributor of tax revenue to the central government, with Shanghai in 1983 contributing more in tax revenue to the central government than Shanghai had received in investment in the prior 33 years combined. This came at the cost of severely crippling welfare of Shanghainese people and Shanghai's infrastructural and capital development. Its importance to the fiscal well-being of the central government also denied it economic liberalizations begun in 1978. Shanghai was finally permitted to initiate economic reforms in 1991, starting the massive development still seen today and the birth of Lujiazui in Pudong.
Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate. Cities at roughly comparable latitude (just over 30°) include New Orleans, Cairo and Perth.
Spring can feature lengthy periods of cloudy and rainy weather.
Summer temperatures often get over 35°C (95°F) with very high humidity, which means that you will perspire a lot and should take lots of changes of clothing or plan on shopping for clothing during the visit. Thunderstorms also occur relatively often during the summer. There is some risk of typhoons in their July–September season, however they are not common.
Autumn is generally mild with warm and sunny weather.
During winter, temperatures rarely rise above 10°C (50°F) during the day and often fall below 0°C (32°F) at night. Snowfall is rare, typically only occurring only once every few years, but transportation networks can sometimes be disrupted in the event of a sudden snowstorm. Despite the fact that winter temperatures in Shanghai are not particularly low, the wind chill factor combined with the high humidity can actually make it feel less comfortable than some much colder places that experience frequent snowfalls. Also, back in Mao's era the official rule was that north of the Yangtze buildings were heated in winter but south of it they were not; Shanghai is on the south bank so many older buildings do not have heating.
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|Humidity is high year-round and can exacerbate temperature extremes|
Shanghai lies on China's east coast roughly equidistant from Beijing and Guangzhou. The Old City and modern downtown Shanghai are now located in the center of an expanding peninsula between the Yangtze River Delta to the north and Hangzhou Bay to the south, formed by the Yangtze's natural deposition and by modern land reclamation projects. The provincial-level Municipality of Shanghai administers both the eastern area of this peninsula and many of its surrounding islands. It is bordered on the north and west by Jiangsu, on the south by Zhejiang, and on the east by the East China Sea. Its northernmost point is on Chongming Island, now the second-largest island in mainland China after its expansion during the 20th century. The municipality does not, however, include an exclave of Jiangsu on northern Chongming or the two islands forming Shanghai's Yangshan Port, which are part of Zhejiang's Shengsi County. This deep-water port was made necessary by the increasing size of container ships but also the silting of the Yangtze, which narrows to less than 20 meters (66 ft) as far out as 45 miles (70 km) from Hengsha.
Downtown Shanghai is bisected by the Huangpu River, a man-made tributary of the Yangtze that was created by order of Lord Chunshen during the Warring States Period. The historic center of the city was located on the west bank of the Huangpu (Puxi), near the mouth of Suzhou Creek, connecting it with Lake Tai and the Grand Canal. The central financial district Lujiazui has grown up on the east bank of the Huangpu (Pudong). The destruction of local wetlands occasioned by the creation of Pudong International Airport along the peninsula's eastern shore has been somewhat offset by the protection and expansion of the nearby shoals of Jiuduansha as a nature preserve.
Shanghai's location on an alluvial plain means that the vast majority of its 6,340.5 km2 (2,448.1 sq mi) land area is flat, with an average elevation of 4 m (13 ft). Its sandy soil has required its skyscrapers to be built with deep concrete piles to stop them from sinking into the soft ground of the central area. The few hills such as She Shan lie to the southwest and the highest point is the peak of Dajinshan Island in Hangzhou Bay (103 m or 338 ft). The city has many rivers, canals, streams and lakes and is known for its rich water resources as part of the Lake Tai drainage area.
Shanghai is the commercial and financial center of mainland China, and ranks 16th in the 2016 edition of the Global Financial Centres Index published by the Z/Yen Group and Qatar Financial Centre Authority. It was the largest and most prosperous city in East Asia during the 1930s, and rapid re-development began in the 1990s. This is exemplified by the Pudong District, a former swampland reclaimed to serve as a pilot area for integrated economic reforms. By the end of 2009, there were 787 financial institutions, of which 170 were foreign-invested. In 2009, the Shanghai Stock Exchange ranked third among worldwide stock exchanges in terms of trading volume and sixth in terms of the total capitalization of listed companies, and the trading volume of six key commodities including rubber, copper and zinc on the Shanghai Futures Exchange all ranked first in the world. In September 2013, with the backing of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the city launched the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone-the first free-trade zone in mainland China. The Zone introduced a number of pilot reforms designed to create a preferential environment for foreign investment. In April 2014, The Banker reported that Shanghai "has attracted the highest volumes of financial sector foreign direct investment in the Asia-Pacific region in the 12 months to the end of January 2014". In August 2014, Shanghai was named FDi magazine's Chinese Province of the Future 2014/15 due to "particularly impressive performances in the Business Friendliness and Connectivity categories, as well as placing second in the Economic Potential and Human Capital and Lifestyle categories".
In the last two decades Shanghai has been one of the fastest developing cities in the world. Since 1992 Shanghai has recorded double-digit growth almost every year except during the global recession of 2008 and 2009. In 2011, Shanghai's total GDP grew to 1.92 trillion yuan (US$297 billion) with GDP per capita of 82,560 yuan (US $12,784). The three largest service industries are financial services, retail, and real estate. The manufacturing and agricultural sectors accounted for 39.9 percent and 0.7 percent of the total output respectively. Average annual disposable income of Shanghai residents, based on the first three quarters of 2009, was 21,871 RMB.
Located at the heart of the Yangtze River Delta, Shanghai has the world's busiest container port, which handled 29.05 million TEUs in 2010. Shanghai aims to be an international shipping center in the near future.
Shanghai is one of the main industrial centers of China, playing a key role in China's heavy industries. A large number of industrial zones, including Shanghai Hongqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone, Jinqiao Export Economic Processing Zone, Minhang Economic and Technological Development Zone, and Shanghai Caohejing High-Tech Development Zone, are backbones of Shanghai's secondary industry. Heavy industries accounted for 78% of the gross industrial output in 2009. China's largest steelmaker Baosteel Group, China's largest shipbuilding base – Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, and the Jiangnan Shipyard, one of China's oldest shipbuilders are all located in Shanghai. Auto manufacture is another important industry. The Shanghai-based SAIC Motor is one of the three largest automotive corporations in China, and has strategic partnerships with Volkswagen and General Motors.
The conference and meeting sector is also growing. In 2012, the city hosted 780 international gatherings, up from 754 in 2011. The high supply of hotel rooms has kept room rates lower than expected, with the average room rate for four- and five-star hotels in 2012 at just RMB950 (US$153).
As of September 2013, Shanghai is also home to the largest free-trade zone in mainland China, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free-Trade Zone. The zone covers an area of 29 km2 and integrates four existing bonded zones — Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, Waigaoqiao Free Trade Logistics Park, Yangshan Free Trade Port Area and Pudong Airport Comprehensive Free Trade Zone. Several preferential policies have been implemented to attract foreign investment in various industries to the FTZ. Because the Zone is not technically considered PRC territory for tax purposes, commodities entering the zone are not subject to duty and customs clearance as would otherwise be the case.
Shanghai is split in two by the Huangpu River, into Puxi west of the river and Pudong east of the river. Both terms can be used in a general sense for everything on their side of the river, including various suburbs. However, they are more often used in a much narrower sense where Puxi is the older (since the 19th century) city center and Pudong the mass of new (since 1990) high-rise development right across the river from there.
Downtown Shanghai (上海市区), also called Puxi or the city centre (市中心), is the historic core of Shanghai. It includes both the old Chinese city, which goes back for hundreds of years, and the area of the International Settlement which began in the 1840s and lasted until the 1930s.
Today this area is still the core of the city. Many metro lines — 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 — run through it and lines 12 and 13 will when completed. Line 22 is mainly suburban but has one terminus downtown, and line 5 will when extensions are completed. Most of the tourist attractions and many hotels are here as well.
There are eight official districts within the area:
- Changning (长宁区; Chángníngqū) Hongqiao International Airport and the Shanghai Zoo are in this area. Changning is a very large, primarily residential district but in recent years has seen more commercial and entertainment hubs develop, especially in the area around Zhongshan Park.
- Hongkou (虹口区; Hóngkǒuqū) Home of Lu Xun Park as well as a football stadium, had many of Shanghai's substantial Jewish population in the first half of the 20th century.
- Huangpu (黄浦区; Huángpǔqū) The traditional center of Shanghai, with People's Square, the Bund, the East Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and many other attractions.
- The district includes the Old City, the area that was the walled city of Shanghai before the modern city came into being.
- Luwan was once part of the French Concession and we cover it in that article; the Chinese treated it as a separate district for many years but now administer it as part of Huangpu.
- The green area on the map shows what our Huangpu article covers, excluding both the Old City and Luwan.
- Jing'an (静安区; Jìngānqū) Named for the historic Jing'an Temple, this area has been continuously inhabited since the 3rd century AD. The commercial district of West Nanjing Road extends from the center of Jing'an to People's Square.
- Putuo (普陀区; Pǔtuóqū) Mainly a residential district. For travellers, it has some decent youth hostels near the metro.
- Xuhui (徐汇区; Xúhuìqū) The central district of the French Concession, with a fine cathedral and other religious buildings, now a major shopping area with many up-market highrise buildings, both residential and office. Our French Concession article covers Xuhui and Luwan.
- Yangpu (杨浦区; Yángpǔqū) Where Fudan University and Tongji University are located. For shoppers, it has the huge Wujiaochang (五角场) mall.
- Zhabei (闸北区; Zháběiqū) Zhabei is an older district with the Shanghai Railway Station and the Shanghai Circus.
This area has quite a few parks scattered about but other than that it is all heavily built up and densely populated. Even the surviving 19th century buildings are nearly all at least two floors and fairly densely packed, and new buildings of twenty floors or more are widespread.
Suzhou Creek is more a small river than a creek, a tributary which flows into the Huangpu at the north end of the Bund. Parts of it form the boundary between Huangpu and Jing'an districts to the south and Hongkou and Zhabei to the north.
- Pudong, across the river from downtown, a major center of recent development as a skyscraper-filled financial center
- Minhang, south of downtown, includes the water town Qibao
- Baoshan, north of downtown
- Jiading, northwest of downtown
Except for Pudong, these areas are mainly residential and industrial. All are well connected to the center of the city by metro and bus services.
The official Pudong district is larger than the central Pudong area which we describe in our Pudong article. Central Pudong is listed here as an inner suburb, but it might also be described as an extension of the downtown core or even as the new core. The less developed southern part of Pudong District,Nanhui, is described in a separate article and is listed as an outer suburb below.
The outer suburbs wrap around the southern and western sides of the city. (The sea is on the east and the Yangtze on the north.) They are:
- Fengxian, on the southern edge of Shanghai Municipality
- Jinshan, at the southwest corner of the municipality, includes the water town Fengjing
- Qingpu, on the western edge of the municipality. At its western tip is the water town Zhujiajiao.
- Songjiang, southwest of downtown, not on a municipality border
- Nanhui, at the southeast corner of the municipality, administratively part of Pudong
As of 2013, only Jinshan, Songjiang and parts of Nanhui have good metro connections but planned extensions to the metro system will reach all of them by 2020. In the meanwhile, there is bus service to all of them; see the district articles for details.
All of these areas still include some farmland but large parts of them are already covered with residential and industrial suburban development and the trend shows no sign of stopping. What were once rural villages serving nearby farms have become towns, often fairly interesting ones that preserve some of the traditional buildings.
The areas along the seacoast at the southern edge of the municipality — Fengxian, Jinshan and Nanhui — have beaches that are popular as a weekend getaway for Shanghai residents.
Chongming Island in the Yangtze plus a couple of smaller islands nearby make up Chongming County (崇明县; Chóngmíngxiàn), the most northerly, most remote and least developed area in Shanghai Municipality.
Shanghai's area code for landlines is 21, adding a "0" at the beginning if calling from outside of the city. For international calls add 86, the country code for China.
Shanghai seems to have far fewer Internet cafes than other Chinese cities, but there are some. Most of the bars that cater to the expatriate community and many of the foreign-based fast food chains — Starbucks, KFC. Duncan Donuts and likely others — offer free WiFi. Many hotels also provide WiFi service at prices from free to exorbitant; it is moderately common to find free service in one part of a hotel, such as a coffee shop, but substantial charges elsewhere, such as from the rooms.
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