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Related subjects Asia; Asian Cities

Municipality of Shanghai
Chinese transliteration(s)
 -  Mandarin (Pinyin) Shànghǎi 
 -  Wu ( Long-short) Zånhae
 -  Shanghainese ( IPA) [zɑ̃'he]
A view of the Pudong skyline
A view of the Pudong skyline
Location of Shanghai Municipality within China
Location of Shanghai Municipality within China
Country Flag of the People's Republic of China China
Settled 5th - 7th century
 - Town

AD 751
 - County 1292
 - Municipality July 17, 1854
 - County-level
 - Township-level

18 districts, 1 county
220 towns and villages
 - Type Municipality
 -  CPC Municipal Sec. Yu Zhengsheng
 -  Mayor Han Zheng
 - Municipality 7,037  km² (2,717  sq mi)
 - Land 6,340 km² (2,447.9 sq mi)
 - Water 679 km² (262.2 sq mi)
 - Urban 5,299 km² (2,046 sq mi)
Elevation m (13  ft)
Population (2007)
 - Municipality 18,450,000
 -  Density 2,621.9/km² (6,790.6/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard Time ( UTC+8)
Postal code 200000 – 2021000
Area code(s) 21
GDP 2007 estimate
 - Total US$171.55 billion ( 7th)
 - Per capita US$9,298 ( 1st)
 - Growth 13.3%
HDI (2005) 0.909 ( 2nd)
License plate prefixes 沪A, B, D, E, F,G
沪C (outer suburbs)
City flower Yulan magnolia
Website: www.shanghai.gov.cn

Shanghai (Chinese: ) is the largest city in China in terms of population and one of the largest urban areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its extended metropolitan area. Located on China's central eastern coast at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is administered as a municipality with province-level status.

Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favorable port location and as one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished as a centre of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational hub of finance and business by the 1930s. However, Shanghai's prosperity ground to a sharp halt after the 1949 Communist takeover and the subsequent cessation of foreign investment. After being allowed economic reforms in 1990, Shanghai is booming once more with intense development and financing, and in 2005 became the world's largest port.

The city is an emerging tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and Xintiandi, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a cosmopolitan centre of culture and design. Today, Shanghai is recognized as China's most important centre of commerce and finance, and is widely regarded as a future global city and as the showpiece of the world's fastest-growing economy.


The two Chinese characters in the name "Shanghai", ( 上, shàng; and 海, hǎi) literally mean "up, on, or above" and "sea", respectively, evident of Shanghai's location next to the East China Sea. The earliest occurrence of this name dates from the Song Dynasty (11th century), at which time there was already a river confluence and a town with this name in the area. There are disputes as to how the name should be interpreted, but official local histories have consistently said that it means "the upper reaches of the sea". However, another reading, especially in Mandarin, also suggests the sense of "go onto the sea," which is consistent with the seaport status of the city. A more poetic name for Shanghai switches the order of the two characters, Hǎishàng ( 上), and is often used for terms related to Shanghainese art and culture.

Shanghai is abbreviated in Chinese as ( 沪) or Shēn ( 申). The former is derived from an ancient name for Suzhou Creek, Hu Du ( 渎), while the latter is derived from the name of Chunshen Jun ( 君), a nobleman and locally-revered hero of the Chu Kingdom in the 3rd century BC whose territory included the Shanghai area. Sports teams and newspapers in Shanghai often use the character Shēn ( 申) in their names. Shanghai is also commonly called Shēnchéng ( 城, "City of Shēn"). The city has also had various nicknames in English, including "Paris of the East" and "Queen of the Orient".


The walled city of Shanghai during the Ming Dynasty
The walled city of Shanghai during the Ming Dynasty

Before the formation of Shanghai city, the area was part of Songjiang county ( 縣), governed by Suzhou prefecture ( 府). From the time of the Song Dynasty (AD 960–1279), Shanghai gradually became a busy seaport. A city wall was built in AD 1553, which is generally accepted as the start of the city of Shanghai. During the Qianlong era of the Qing Dynasty, Shanghai became an important regional port for the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers. It also became a major seaport for the nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, although overseas commerce was still forbidden at that time. A historically important area of this era is Wujiaochang ( 场) (now in Yangpu District), the foundation of the city centre. Around the end of the Qianlong era, Shiliupu ( 铺) (now in Huangpu District) became the largest port in East Asia.

The importance of Shanghai grew radically in the 19th century, as the city's strategic position at the mouth of the Yangtze River made it an ideal location for trade with the West. During the First Opium War in the early 19th century, British forces temporarily held Shanghai. The war ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing, which saw the treaty ports, Shanghai included, opened for international trade. The Treaty of the Bogue signed in 1843, and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsia signed in 1844 together saw foreign nations achieve extraterritoriality on Chinese soil, the start of the foreign concessions.

A view of the Bund in 1928
A view of the Bund in 1928
Nanjing Road in the 1930s
Nanjing Road in the 1930s

1854 saw the first meeting of the Shanghai Municipal Council, created in order to manage the foreign settlements. In 1863, the British settlement, located to the south of Suzhou creek (Huangpu district), and the American settlement, to the north of Suzhou creek (Hankou district), joined in order to form the International Settlement. The French opted out of the Shanghai Municipal Council, and maintained its own French Concession, located to the south of the International Settlement. 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 " Shanghighlanders". In the 1920s and 1930s, almost 20,000 so-called 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.

The Sino-Japanese War concluded with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which saw Japan emerge as an additional foreign power in Shanghai. Japan built the first factories in Shanghai, which were soon copied by other foreign powers to effect the emergence of Shanghai industry. Shanghai was then the most important financial centre in the Far East. Under the Republic of China, Shanghai was made a special city in 1927, and a municipality in May 1930.

The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service bombed Shanghai on January 28, 1932, nominally in an effort to crush down Chinese student protests of the Manchurian Incident and the subsequent Japanese occupation of northeast China. The Chinese fought back in what was known as the January 28 Incident. The two sides fought to a standstill and 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 International Settlement was occupied by the Japanese on 8 December 1941 and remained occupied until Japan's surrender in 1945. According to historian Zhiliang Su, at least 149 "comfort houses" for sexual slaves were established in Shanghai during the occupation. .

Shanghai has seen massive development over the past 15 years
Shanghai has seen massive development over the past 15 years

On May 27, 1949, the Communist Party of China controlled the People's Liberation Army and took control of Shanghai, which was one of the only three former Republic of China (ROC) municipalities not merged into neighbouring provinces over the next decade (the others being Beijing and Tianjin). Shanghai underwent a series of changes in the boundaries of its subdivisions, especially in the next decade. After 1949, most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong, as part of an exodus of foreign investment due to the Communist victory.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Shanghai became an industrial center and centre for revolutionary leftism. Yet, even during the most tumultuous times of the Cultural Revolution, Shanghai was able to maintain high economic productivity and relative social stability. In most of the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Shanghai has been the largest contributor of tax revenue to the central government compared with other Chinese provinces and municipalities. This came at the cost of severely crippling Shanghai's infrastructure and capital development. Its importance to China's fiscal well-being also denied it economic liberalizations that were started in the far southern provinces such as Guangdong during the mid-1980s. At that time, Guangdong province paid nearly no taxes to the central government, and thus was perceived as fiscally expendable for experimental economic reforms. Shanghai was finally permitted to initiate economic reforms in 1991, starting the huge development still seen today and the birth of Lujiazui and Pudong.

Geography and climate

The urban area of Shanghai can be seen in this false-color satellite image.
The urban area of Shanghai can be seen in this false-colour satellite image.

Shanghai sits on the Yangtze River Delta on China's east coast roughly equidistant between Beijing and Hong Kong. The municipality as a whole consists of a peninsula between the Yangtze and Hangzhou Bay, China's third largest island Chongming, and a number of smaller islands. It is bordered on the north and west by Jiangsu Province, on the south by Zhejiang Province, and on the east by the East China Sea. The city proper is bisected by the Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze. The historic centre of the city, the Puxi area, is located on the western side of the Huangpu, while the new Pudong financial district has developed on the eastern bank.

The vast majority of Shanghai's 6,218  km² (2,401  sq mi) land area is flat, apart from a few hills in the southwest corner, with an average elevation of 4  m (13  ft). The city's location on the flat alluvial plain has meant that new skyscrapers must be built with deep concrete piles to stop them sinking into the soft ground. The highest point is at the peak of Dajinshan Island at 103 m (340 ft). The city has many rivers, canals, streams and lakes and is known for its rich water resources as part of the Taihu drainage area.

A park in the center of Shanghai
A park in the centre of Shanghai

Public awareness of the environment is growing, and the city is investing in a number of environmental protection projects. A 10-year, US$1 billion cleanup of Suzhou Creek, which runs through the city centre, is expected to be finished in 2008, and the government also provides incentives for transportation companies to invest in LPG buses and taxis. Air pollution in Shanghai is low compared to other Chinese cities such as Beijing, but the rapid development over the past decades means it is still high on worldwide standards, comparable to Los Angeles.

Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate ( Koppen climate classification Cfa) and experiences four distinct seasons. In winter, cold northerly winds from Siberia can cause nighttime temperatures to drop below freezing, and although not usually associated with snow, the city can receive one or two days of snowfall per year. In contrast, and in spite of being the peak tourist season, summer in Shanghai is very warm and humid, with occasional downpours or freak thunderstorms. The city is also susceptible to typhoons, none of which in recent years has caused considerable damage. The most pleasant seasons are Spring, although changeable, and Autumn, which is generally sunny and dry. Shanghai experiences on average 1,778 hours of sunshine per year, with the hottest temperature ever recorded at 39 °C (102 °F), and the lowest at −5 °C (23 °F). The average number of rainy days is 112 per year, with the wettest month being June. The average frost-free period is 276 days.

Weather averages for Shanghai
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 8 (46) 8 (46) 13 (55) 19 (66) 25 (77) 28 (82) 32 (90) 32 (90) 28 (82) 23 (73) 17 (63) 17 (63)
Average low °C (°F) 1 (34) 1 (34) 4 (39) 10 (50) 15 (59) 19 (66) 23 (73) 23 (73) 19 (66) 14 (57) 7 (45) 2 (36)
Precipitation mm (inches) 48 (1.9) 58 (2.3) 84 (3.3) 94 (3.7) 94 (3.7) 180 (7.1) 147 (5.8) 142 (5.6) 130 (5.1) 71 (2.8) 51 (2) 36 (1.4)
Source BBC 2008


Shanghai municipal government building
Shanghai municipal government building

Shanghai has been a political hub of China since the 20th century. Many of China's top government officials in Beijing are known to have risen in Shanghai in the 1980s on a platform that was critical of the extreme leftism of the Cultural Revolution, giving them the tag " Shanghai Clique" during the 1990s. Many observers of Chinese politics view the more right-leaning Shanghai Clique as an opposing and competing faction of the current Chinese administration under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Shanghai's top jobs, the Party Chief and the position of Mayor, have always been prominent on a national scale. Four Shanghai mayors eventually went on to take prominent Central Government positions, including former President Jiang Zemin, former Premier Zhu Rongji, and current Vice-President Xi Jinping. The top administrative jobs are always appointed directly by the Central Government.

The current Shanghai government under Mayor Han Zheng has openly advocated transparency in the city's government. However, in previous years a complicated system of relationships between Shanghai's government, banks, and other civil institutions has been under scrutiny for corruption, motivated by faction politics in Beijing; these allegations from Beijing did not go anywhere until late 2006. Since Jiang's departure from office there has been a significant amount of clash between the local government in Shanghai and the Central People's Government, an evolving example of de facto Chinese federalism. The Shanghai government looks after almost all of the city's economic interests without interference from Beijing.

By 2006, Shanghai's actual level of autonomy has arguably surpassed that of any autonomous regions, raising alarm bells in Beijing. In September 2006, the Shanghai Communist Party Secretary Chen Liangyu, Shanghainese in origin and often clashing with central government officials, along with a number of his followers, were removed from their positions after a probe into the city's pension fund. Over a hundred investigators, sent by the Central Government, reportedly uncovered clues of money diversion from the city's pension fund to unapproved loans and investments. Chen's abrupt removal is viewed by many Chinese as a political manoeuvre by President Hu Jintao to further secure his power in the country, and retain administrative centralism. In March 2007 the central government appointed Xi Jinping, who is not a Shanghai native, to become the Party Secretary, the most powerful office in the city. Xi would eventually be transferred to work for the central government in Beijing and was replaced by Yu Zhengsheng in November 2007.

Administrative divisions

The 18 districts and 1 county that make up the Municipality of Shanghai
The 18 districts and 1 county that make up the Municipality of Shanghai
The Garden Bridge over Suzhou Creek
The Garden Bridge over Suzhou Creek
A view of the Puxi skyline, across the river from Pudong
A view of the Puxi skyline, across the river from Pudong

Shanghai is administratively equal to a province and is divided into 19 county-level divisions: 18 districts and one county. There is no single downtown district in Shanghai, the urban core is scattered across several districts. Prominent central business areas include Lujiazui on the east bank of the Huangpu River, and The Bund and Hongqiao areas in the west bank of the Huangpu River. The city hall and major administration units are located in Huangpu District, which also serve as a commercial area, including the famous Nanjing Road. Other major commercial areas include the classy Xintiandi and Huaihai Road in Luwan district and Xujiahui in Xuhui District. Many universities in Shanghai are located in residential areas of Yangpu District and Putuo District.

Nine of the districts govern Puxi (literally Huangpu River west), or the older part of urban Shanghai on the west bank of the Huangpu River. These nine districts are collectively referred to as Shanghai Proper (上海市区) or the core city (市中心):

  • Huangpu District ( simplified Chinese: 黄浦区; traditional Chinese: 黃浦區; pinyin: Huángpǔ Qū)
  • Luwan District (卢湾区 Lúwān Qū)
  • Xuhui District (徐汇区 Xúhuì Qū)
  • Changning District (长宁区 Chángníng Qū)
  • Jing'an District (静安区 Jìng'ān Qū)
  • Putuo District (普陀区 Pǔtuó Qū)
  • Zhabei District (闸北区 Zháběi Qū)
  • Hongkou District (虹口区 Hóngkǒu Qū)
  • Yangpu District (杨浦区 Yángpǔ Qū)

Pudong (literally Huangpu River east), or the newer part of urban and suburban Shanghai on the east bank of the Huangpu River, is governed by:

  • Pudong New District (浦东新区 Pǔdōng Xīn Qū) — Chuansha County until 1992

Eight of the districts govern suburbs, satellite towns, and rural areas further away from the urban core:

  • Baoshan District (宝山区 Bǎoshān Qū) — Baoshan County until 1988
  • Minhang District (闵行区 Mǐnháng Qū) — Shanghai County until 1992
  • Jiading District (嘉定区 Jiādìng Qū) — Jiading County until 1992
  • Jinshan District (金山区 Jīnshān Qū) — Jinshan County until 1997
  • Songjiang District (松江区 Sōngjiāng Qū) — Songjiang County until 1998
  • Qingpu District (青浦区 Qīngpǔ Qū) — Qingpu County until 1999
  • Nanhui District (南汇区 Nánhuì Qū) — Nanhui County until 2001
  • Fengxian District (奉贤区 Fèngxián Qū) — Fengxian County until 2001

Chongming Island, an island at the mouth of the Yangtze, is governed by:

  • Chongming County (崇明县 Chóngmíng Xiàn)

As of 2003, these county-level divisions are further divided into the following 220 township-level divisions: 114 towns, 3 townships, 103 subdistricts. Those are in turn divided into the following village-level divisions: 3,393 neighbourhood committees and 2,037 village committees.


The Bund at night, the location of several major banking branches
The Bund at night, the location of several major banking branches

Shanghai is often regarded as the center of finance and trade in mainland China. Modern development began with the economic reforms in 1992, a decade later than many of the Southern Chinese provinces, but since then Shanghai quickly overtook those provinces and maintained its role as the business centre in mainland China. Shanghai also hosts the largest share market in mainland China.

Shanghai is one of the world's busiest ports. In 2005, Shanghai ranked first of the world's busiest ports in terms of cargo throughout, handling a total of 443 million tons of cargo. In terms of container traffic, it just surpassed Hong Kong to become the second busiest port in the world, behind Singapore.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange in the Lujiazui financial district
The Shanghai Stock Exchange in the Lujiazui financial district

Shanghai and Hong Kong are rivaling to be the economic centre of China. Hong Kong has the advantage of a stronger legal system, international market integration, superior economic freedom, greater banking and service expertise, lower taxes, and a fully-convertible currency. Shanghai has stronger links to both the Chinese interior and the central government, and a stronger base in manufacturing and technology. Shanghai has increased its role in finance, banking, and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, fueling demand for a highly educated and modernized workforce. Shanghai has recorded a double-digit growth for 15 consecutive years since 1992. In 2007, Shanghai's nominal GDP posted a 13.3% growth to 1.2 trillion yuan. The Shanghai Stock Exchange is the world's fastest growing, with the Shanghai Composite Index growing 130% in 2006.

As in many other areas in China, Shanghai is undergoing a building boom. In Shanghai the modern architecture is notable for its unique style, especially in the highest floors, with several top floor restaurants which resemble flying saucers. For a gallery of these unique architecture designs, see Shanghai (architecture images).

The bulk of Shanghai buildings being constructed today are high-rise apartments of various height, colour and design. There is now a strong focus by city planners to develop more "green areas" (public parks) among the apartment complexes in order to improve the quality of life for Shanghai's residents, quite in accordance to the "Better City - Better Life" theme of Shanghai's Expo 2010.


The 2000 census put the population of Shanghai Municipality at 16.738 million, including the migrant population, which made up 3.871 million. Since the 1990 census the total population had increased by 3.396 million, or 25.5%. Males accounted for 51.4%, females for 48.6% of the population. 12.2% were in the age group of 0–14, 76.3% between 15 and 64 and 11.5% were older than 65. 5.4% of the inhabitants were illiterate. As of 2007, the population of long-term residents reached 18.45 million, including an officially registered population of 13.68 million, and 4.67 million migrants from other provinces, mostly from Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang Provinces. In addition, there are a large number of immigrants from Taiwan (estimates vary from 250,000 to 500,000). The average life expectancy in 2006 was 80.97 years, 78.67 for men and 82.29 for women.

The pedestrian-only Nanjing Road, China's premier shopping street
The pedestrian-only Nanjing Road, China's premier shopping street

Most registered Shanghainese residents are descendants of immigrants from the two adjacent provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang who moved to Shanghai in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, regions that generally also speak Wu Chinese. The many migrants coming to Shanghai from inland China have raised tensions in the past decade, often they do not speak the local dialect and therefore use Mandarin as a lingua franca. Rising crime rates, littering, harassive panhandling, and an overloading of the basic infrastructure (mainly public transportation and public schools) associated with the rise of these migrant populations (over 3 million new migrants in 2003 alone) have been generating some ill will from the Shanghainese. Efforts have been made by the local Shanghai municipal government to provide adequate welfare for the migrant populations in Shanghai, while also being cautious not to further increase the burdens of the native-born population.

The vernacular language is Shanghainese, a dialect of Wu Chinese, while the official language is Standard Mandarin. The local dialect is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, and is an inseparable part of the Shanghainese identity. The Shanghainese dialect today is developed from Ben Di Hua (literally means local language)which was spoken by the original inhabitants in the Hong Kou, Bao Shan and Pu Dong Districts with influences from other dialects such as Wu Chinese as spoken in Suzhou, the dialects of Ningbo and other nearby regions whose peoples have migrated to Shanghai in large numbers since the 20th Century. Nearly all Shanghainese under the age of 40 can speak Mandarin fluently. Fluency in foreign languages is unevenly distributed. Most senior residents who received a university education before the revolution, and those who worked in foreign enterprises, can speak English. Those under the age of 26 have had contact with English since primary school, as English is taught as a mandatory course starting at Grade 1.

Longhua Temple's inner courtyard
Longhua Temple's inner courtyard

Due to its cosmopolitan history, Shanghai has a rich blend of religious heritage as shown by the religious buildings and institutions still scattered around the city. Taoism has a presence in Shanghai in the form of several temples,including the City God Temple, at the heart of the old city, the Wenmiao, dedicated to Confucius, and a temple dedicated to the Three Kingdoms general Guan Yu. Buddhism has had a presence in Shanghai since ancient times. Longhua temple, the largest temple in Shanghai, and Jing'an Temple, were founded in the Three Kingdoms period. Another important temple is the Jade Buddha Temple, which is named after a large statue of Buddha carved out of jade in the temple. In recent years dozens of modern temples have been built throughout the city. Shanghai is also an important centre of Christianity in China. Churches belonging to various denominations are found throughout Shanghai and maintain significant congregations. Among Catholic churches, St Ignatius Cathedral in Xujiahui is the largest, while She Shang Cathedral is the only active pilgrimage site in China. The city is also home to Muslim, Jewish, and Eastern Orthodox communities.

While Beijing is considered the educational centre of China, Shanghai is also home to some of the country's most prestigious universities, including Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tongji University.


Shanghai has an extensive public transportation system, largely based on buses, and a rapidly expanding metro system. For a city of Shanghai's size, road traffic is still fairly smooth and convenient but getting more congested as the number of cars increases rapidly.

The Shanghai Metro is one of the fastest growing systems in the world.
The Shanghai Metro is one of the fastest growing systems in the world.

The Shanghai Metro rapid-transit system and elevated light rail has eight lines (numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9) at present. According to the development schedule of the municipal government, by the year 2010, another 4 lines (numbers 7, 10, 11 and 12) will be built. It is one of the fastest-growing systems in the world - the first line opened in just 1995. Shanghai also has the world's most extensive bus system with nearly one thousand bus lines. Bus and metro fares run from ¥3 to ¥9 depending on distance.

Taxis in Shanghai are plentiful and market competition has driven taxi fare down to affordable prices for the average resident (¥11 (¥14 after 11pm) or a little over one US dollar for 3 km). Before the 1990s, bicycling was the most ubiquitous form of transportation in Shanghai, but the city has since banned bicycles on many of the city's main roads to ease congestion. However, many streets have bicycle lanes and intersections are monitored by "Traffic Assistants" who help provide for safe crossing. Further, most motorists in China were raised riding bikes and so are fairly careful of them. Further, the city government has pledged to add 180 km of cycling lanes over the next few years. With rising disposable incomes, private car ownership in Shanghai has also been rapidly increasing in recent years. The number of cars is limited, however, by the number of available number plates available at public auction.

The Maglev, with a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph)
The Maglev, with a top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph)

In cooperation with the Shanghai municipality and the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. (SMT), German Transrapid constructed the first commercial Maglev railway in the world in 2002, from Shanghai's Longyang Road subway station in Pudong to Pudong International Airport. Commercial operation started in 2003. The 30 km trip takes 7 minutes and 21 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 431 km/h (267.8 mph).

Two railways intersect in Shanghai: Jinghu Railway (Beijing-Shanghai) Railway passing through Nanjing, and Shanghai- Hangzhou Railway (沪杭线 Hu Hang Line). Shanghai is served by two main railway stations, Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai South Railway Station. Express service to Beijing through Z-series trains is fairly convenient. A Maglev train route to Hangzhou ( Shanghai-Hangzhou Maglev Train) might begin construction in 2007. A high-speed railroad to Beijing is also in the works.

More than six national expressways (prefixed with "G") from Beijing and from the region around Shanghai connect to the city. Shanghai itself has six toll-free elevated expressways (skyways) in the urban core and 18 municipal expressways (prefixed with "A"). There are ambitious plans to build expressways connecting Shanghai's Chongming Island with the urban core.

Shanghai has two airports: Hongqiao International and Pudong International, the latter of which has the third highest traffic in China, following Beijing Capital International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport. Pudong International handles more international traffic than Beijing Capital however, with over 17.15 million international passengers handled in 2006 compared to the latter's 12.6 million passengers. Hongqiao mainly serves domestic routes, with a few city-to-city flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Seoul's city airport.


The Bund at night
The Bund at night

Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, contains a rich collection of early 20th century architecture, ranging in style from neo-classical HSBC Building to the art deco Sassoon House. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well preserved, and despite rampant redevelopment, the old city still retains some buildings of a traditional style, including Yuyuan Garden, a traditional garden in the Jiangnan style.

The lights of the Bund and Puxi skyscrapers at night
The lights of the Bund and Puxi skyscrapers at night

In recent years, a large number of architectually distinctive, even eccentric, skyscrapers have sprung up throughout Shanghai. Notable examples of contemporary architecture include the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theatre in the People's Square precinct.

Renovated shikumen lanes in Xintiandi, now a high-end restaurant and shopping center
Renovated shikumen lanes in Xintiandi, now a high-end restaurant and shopping centre

One uniquely Shanghainese cultural element is the shikumen (石库门) residences, which are two or three-story townhouses, with the front yard protected by a high brick wall. Each residence is connected and arranged in straight alleys, known as a lòngtang (弄堂), pronounced longdang in Shanghainese. The entrance to each alley is usually surmounted by a stylistic stone arch. The whole resembles terrace houses or townhouses commonly seen in Anglo-American countries, but distinguished by the tall, heavy brick wall in front of each house. The name "shikumen" literally means "stone storage door", referring to the strong gateway to each house.

The shikumen is a cultural blend of elements found in Western architecture with traditional Lower Yangtze (Jiangnan) Chinese architecture and social behaviour. All traditional Chinese dwellings had a courtyard, and the shikumen was no exception. Yet, to compromise with its urban nature, it was much smaller and provided an "interior haven" to the commotions in the streets, allowing for raindrops to fall and vegetation to grow freely within a residence. The courtyard also allowed sunlight and adequate ventilation into the rooms.

The Shanghai World Financial Centre at 492 metres tall is the tallest skyscraper in mainland China and ranks second in the world. The distinctive Oriental Pearl Tower at 468 metres, is located nearby in downtown Shanghai. Its lower sphere is now available for living quarters, starting at very high prices.

Perhaps one of the most spectacular buildings of modern times, Shanghai Centre, a supertall skyscraper is under construction in the Pudong District of the metropolis. At 580 metres, the building is expected to offer 118 stories and propel the city to be an advanced financial capital upon planned completion in 2010.


The Shanghai Museum, located in People's Park
The Shanghai Museum, located in People's Park

Because of Shanghai's status as the cultural and economic centre of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. It was in Shanghai, for example, that the first motor car was driven and the first train tracks and modern sewers were laid. It was also the intellectual battleground between socialist writers who concentrated on critical realism (pioneered by Lu Xun and Mao Dun) and the more " bourgeois", more romantic and aesthetically inclined writers (such as Shi Zhecun, Shao Xunmei, Ye Lingfeng, Eileen Chang).

Besides literature, Shanghai was also the birthplace of Chinese cinema & theatre. China’s first short film, The Difficult Couple (Nanfu Nanqi, 1913), and the country’s first fictional feature film, Orphan Rescues Grandfather (Gu'er jiu zuji, 1923) were both produced in Shanghai. These two films were very influential, and established Shanghai as the centre of Chinese film-making. Shanghai’s film industry went on to blossom during the early Thirties, generating Marilyn Monroe-like stars such as Zhou Xuan. Another film star, Jiang Qing, went on to become Madame Mao Zedong. The talent and passion of Shanghainese filmmakers following World War II and the Communist revolution in China contributed enormously to the development of the Hong Kong film industry. Many aspects of Shanghainese popular culture ("Shanghainese Pops") were transferred to Hong Kong by the numerous Shanghainese emigrants and refugees after the Communist Revolution. The movie In the Mood for Love (Huayang nianhua) directed by Wong Kar-wai (a native Shanghainese himself) depicts one slice of the displaced Shanghainese community in Hong Kong and the nostalgia for that era, featuring 1940s music by Zhou Xuan.

Although often viewed as a modern metropolis, Shanghai still contains some picturesque rural suburban areas.
Although often viewed as a modern metropolis, Shanghai still contains some picturesque rural suburban areas.

Shanghai boasts several museums of regional and national importance. The Shanghai Museum of art and history has one of the best collections of Chinese historical artefacts in the world, including important archaeological finds since 1949. The Shanghai Art Museum, located near People's Square, is a major art museum holding both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The Shanghai Natural History Museum is a large scale natural history museum. In addition, there is a variety of smaller, specialist museums, some housed in important historical sites such as the site of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea and the site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

No. 4 of Hundred Thousand Scenes (十萬圖之四). Painting by Ren Xiong, a pioneer of the Shanghai School of Chinese art; ca. 1850.
No. 4 of Hundred Thousand Scenes (十萬圖之四). Painting by Ren Xiong, a pioneer of the Shanghai School of Chinese art; ca. 1850.

The Shanghai School (海上画派 Haishang Huapai or 海派 Haipai) is a very important Chinese school of traditional arts during the Qing Dynasty and the whole of the twentieth century. Under efforts of masters from this school, traditional Chinese art reached another climax and continued to the present in forms of the " Chinese painting" (中国画) or guohua (国画) for short. The Shanghai School challenged and broke the literati tradition of Chinese art, while also paying technical homage to the ancient masters and improving on existing traditional techniques. Members of this school were themselves educated literati who had come to question their very status and the purpose of art, and had anticipated the impending modernization of Chinese society. In an era of rapid social change, works from the Shanghai School were widely innovative and diverse, and often contained thoughtful yet subtle social commentary. The most well-known figures from this school are Ren Xiong (任熊), Ren Yi (任伯年), Zhao Zhiqian (赵之谦), Wu Changshuo (吴昌硕), Sha Menghai (沙孟海, calligraphist), Pan Tianshou (潘天寿), Fu Baoshi (傅抱石) and Wang Zhen (Wang Yiting) (王震). In literature, the term was used in the 1930s by some May Fourth Movement intellectuals, notably Zhou Zuoren and Shen Congwen, as a derogatory label for the literature produced in Shanghai at the time. They argued that so-called Shanghai School literature was merely commercial and therefore did not advance social progress. This became known as the Jingpai (Beijing School) versus Haipai (Shanghai School) debate.

Songjiang School (淞江派) is a small painting school during the Ming Dynasty. It is commonly considered as a further development of the Wu School, or Wumen School (吴门画派), in the then cultural centre of the region, Suzhou. Huating School (华亭派) was another important art school during the middle to late Ming Dynasty. Its main achievements were in traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and poetry, and especially famous for its Renwen painting (人文画). Dong Qichang (董其昌) is one of the masters from this school.

Modernity meets tradition at Jing'an Temple in downtown Shanghai
Modernity meets tradition at Jing'an Temple in downtown Shanghai

Shanghai's parks offer some reprieve from the urban jungle. Due to the scarcity of play space for children, nearly all parks have a children's section. Zhongshan Gongyuan in Downtown Shanghai is famous for its monument of Chopin, the tallest statue dedicated to the composer in the world. Built in 1914 as Jessfield Park, it once contained the campus of St. John's University, Shanghai's first international college; today, it is known for its extensive rose and peony gardens, a large children's play area, and as the westernmost stop to date on the Metro Line 2. One of the newest is in the Xujiahui District, Xujiahui Gongyuan, built in 1999 on the former grounds of the Great Chinese Rubber Works Factory and the EMI Recording Studio (today's glamorous La Villa Rouge restaurant), with entrances at Zhaojiabang Lu and in the west at the intersection of Hengshang Lu and Yuqin Lu. The park has a man-made lake with a sky bridge running across the park, and offers a pleasant respite for Xujiahui shoppers.

Two women wear Shanghai-styled qipao while playing golf in this 1930s Shanghai advertisement.
Two women wear Shanghai-styled qipao while playing golf in this 1930s Shanghai advertisement.

Other Shanghainese cultural artifacts include the cheongsam (Shanghainese: zansae), a modernization of the traditional Chinese/Manchurian qipao (Chinese: 旗袍; fitting. This contrasts sharply with the traditional qipao which was designed to conceal the figure and be worn regardless of age. The cheongsam went along well with the western overcoat and the scarf, and portrayed a unique East Asian modernity, epitomizing the Shanghainese population in general. As Western fashions changed, the basic cheongsam design changed, too, introducing high-necked sleeveless dresses, bell-like sleeves and, the black lace frothing at the hem of a ball gown. By the 1940s, cheongsams came in transparent black, beaded bodices, matching capes and even velvet. And later, checked fabrics became also quite common. The 1949 Communist Revolution ended the cheongsam and other fashions in Shanghai. However, the Shanghainese styles have seen a recent revival as stylish party dresses. The fashion industry has been rapidly revitalizing in the past decade, there is on average one fashion show per day in Shanghai today. Like Shanghai's architecture, local fashion designers strive to create a fusion of western and traditional designs, often with innovative if uncontroversial results.

Shanghai has hosted a number of world events, including the 2007 Summer Special Olympics and a Live Earth concert. The city will be the host of the Expo 2010 World's Fair between May and October 2010. Shanghai is also home to a number of professional sports teams, including Shanghai Shenhua of the Chinese Football Association Super League, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, and the Shanghai Eagles of the Chinese Baseball League. The city has also hosted the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit every year since 2004.

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