Alternate meanings: See Shanghai (disambiguation)
Shnghǎi Sh
Abbreviations: 沪 or 申 (pinyin: H or Shēn)
Shanghai is highlighted and pointed to on this map
Origin of Name 上 shng - up
海 hǎi - sea
see text for explanation
Administration Type Municipality
CPC Shanghai Committee Secretary Chen Liangyu
Mayor Han Zheng
Area 6,340.5 km² (31st)
Population (2003)
 - Metropolitan area
 - Density
17,110,000 (25th)
approx. 10 million
2700/km² (1st)
GDP (2003)
 - per capita
CNY 625.1 billion (7th)
CNY 36500 (1st)
Major Nationalities (2000) Han - 99%
Hui - 0.4%
City flower Yulan magnolia
(Magnolia denudata)
County-level divisions 19
Township-level divisions 220
Postal Code 200000 - 202100
Area Code 21
License Plate Prefixes 沪A, B, D, E
沪C (distant suburbs)
ISO 3166-2 CN-31

Shanghai (Template:Zh-cp; Shanghainese IPA: ), situated on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta, is China's largest city. The city's development in the past few decades has made it one of the most important economic, commercial, financial and communications centers of China.

Shanghai is also home to the world's busiest port, followed by Singapore and Rotterdam.

Administratively, Shanghai is one of four municipalities of the People's Republic of China, which have provincial-level status.

The two characters in the name "Shanghai" literally mean "up/above" and "sea". The earliest occurrence of this name dates from the Song Dynasty, at which time there was already a river confluence and a town called "Shanghai" in the area. It is unclear how the name originated or how its meaning should be interpreted, though a literal reading suggests the sense "onto the sea".

In Chinese, Shanghai's abbreviations are H (滬 or 沪) and Shēn (申).

The city has had various nicknames in English, including "Paris of the East", "Queen of the Orient" (or "Pearl of the Orient"), and even "The Whore of Asia" (a reference to foreign-influenced corruption in the 1920s and 1930s, including vice, drugs and prostitution).



Before the forming of Shanghai city, Shanghai was part of Songjiang county, governed by Suzhou prefecture. The county was formed around 1000 years ago. From the time of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Shanghai gradually became a busy seaport.

A city wall was built in AD 1553, which is generally regarded as the beginning of Shanghai City. However, before the 19th century, Shanghai was not a major city, and in contrast to other major Chinese cities, there are few ancient Chinese landmarks there. Before 1927 Shanghai belonged to Jiangsu province with the capital of Nanjing. Since Shanghai became a Special Administration City in 1927, its official position has been equal to a Chinese province.

The role of Shanghai changed 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.

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1888 German map of Shanghai

The Taiping Rebellion broke out in 1850, and in 1853 Shanghai was occupied by a triad offshoot of the rebels, called the Small Swords Society. The fighting destroyed the countryside but left the foreigners' settlements untouched, and Chinese arrived seeking refuge. Although previously Chinese were forbidden to live in foreign settlements, 1854 saw new regulations drawn up making land available to Chinese. Land prices rose substantially. The year also saw the first annual meeting of the Shanghai Municipal Council, substantiated in order to manage the foreign settlements. In 1863, the British and American settlements joined in order to form the International Settlement (

The Sino-Japanese War fought 1894-95 over control of Korea 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.

Map of Shanghai, 1933
Map of Shanghai, 1933

Shanghai was then the biggest financial city in the Far East. Under the Republic of China, Shanghai was made a special city in 1927, and a municipality in May 1930. The Japanese Navy bombed Shanghai on January 28, 1932, in an effort to crush down Chinese student protests of the Manchurian Incident and the subsequent Japanese occupation. Shanghai was lost to Japan in the Battle of Shanghai in 1937 until its surrender in 1945. During World War II, Shanghai was a centre for refugees from Europe. It was the only city in the world that was open unconditionally to the Jews at the time.

On May 27, 1949, Shanghai came under communist control and was one of the only two former ROC municipalities not immediately merged into neighbouring provinces (the other being Beijing). It then underwent a series of changes in the boundaries of its subdivisions, especially in the next decade.

After 1949, however, most foreign firms moved their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. During the 1950s and 1960s, Shanghai became an industrial center and center 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 PRC, Shanghai has been the largest contributor of tax revenue to the central government compared with other Chinese provinces and municipalities. In the early 1980s, 70-80% of the entire national tax revenue came from the municipality of Shanghai alone. 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 dispendable for experimental economic reforms. Shanghai was not permitted to initiate economic reforms until 1991.

Pudong skyline by night
Pudong skyline by night

Shanghai has traditionally been seen as a stepping stone to positions within the PRC central government. In the 1990s, there was an often described "Shanghai clique" which included the president of the PRC Jiang Zemin and the premier of the PRC Zhu Rongji. Starting in 1992, the central government under Jiang Zemin, a former Mayor of Shanghai, began reducing the tax burden on Shanghai and encouraging both foreign and domestic investment in order to promote it as the economic hub of east Asia and to encourage its role as gateway of investment to the Chinese interior. Since then it has experienced continuous economic growth of between 9-15% annually, arguably at the expense of growth in Hong Kong, leading China's overall development.

Administrative divisions

Shanghai is divided into 19 county-level divisions: 18 districts and 1 county.

Missing image
Shanghai's districts and county
UPDATE: The two islands marked as belonging to Baoshan District have been transferred to Chongming County.

Nine of the districts govern "Puxi", or the older part of urban and suburban Shanghai on the west bank of the Huangpu River:

"Pudong", 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:

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

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 neighborhood committees and 2,037 village committees.

List of towns:

Economy and demographics

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Nanjing Road (南京路), one of the world's busiest shopping streets.

Shanghai is the financial and trade center of China. It began economic reforms in 1992, a decade later than many of the Southern Chinese provinces. Prior to then, much of the city revenue went directly to the capital, Beijing, with little return. Even with a decreased tax burden after 1992, Shanghai's tax contribution to the central government is around 20-25% of the national total (Shanghai's annual tax burden pre-1990s was on average 70% of the national). Shanghai today is the biggest and most developed city in mainland China.

The 2000 census put the population of Shanghai Municipality to 16.738 million, including the floating population, which made up 3.871 million. Since the 1990 census the total population has 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 2003, the official registered population is 13.42 million; however, more than 5 million more people work and live in Shanghai undocumented, and of the 5 million, some 4 million belong to the floating population of temporary migrant workers. The average life expectancy in 2003 was 79.80 years, 77.78 for men and 81.81 for women.

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The old Chinese City in Shanghai still remains very traditional (2005).
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A typical Shanghai street.

Shanghai and Hong Kong have had a recent rivalry over which city is to be the economic center of China. The city had a GDP of 46,586 (ca. US$ 5,620) per capita in 2003, ranked no. 13 among all 659 Chinese cities. Hong Kong has the advantage of a stronger legal system and greater banking and service expertise. Shanghai has stronger links to both the Chinese interior and the central government, in addition to a stronger base in manufacturing and technology. Since the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC in 1997, 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's economy is steadily growing at 11% and for 2004 the forecast is 14%.

Shanghai is increasingly a critical center of communication with the western world, examples include the opening of the Pac-Med Medical Exchange in June of 2004. Pac-Med is a clearinghouse of medical data and a link between the Chinese and westernized medical infrastructures. In medicine and other humanitarian fields, China is actively seeking input of first world nations to improve statistical living conditions and trade status. Arguments for and against modern Chinese leadership question the genuine influence the influx of western culture and medicine will have on the internal Chinese populus outside the densely populated, oft visited financial and cultural urban centers. The Pudong district of Shanghai contains purposefully westernized streets (European/American 'feeling' districts) in close proximity to major international trade and hospitality zones. Western visitors to Shanghai are greeted with free public parks, manicured to startling perfection in distinct contrast to the massive industrial installations which reveal China's emerging environmental concerns. For a densely populated urban center and international point of trade, Shanghai is generally noticeably free of crime against its visitors; Shanghai's international diversity is perhaps the world's foremost window into the rich, historic and complex society of today's China.


As in many other areas in China, Shanghai is undergoing a building boom. In Shanghai the modern architecture is notable for its styling, especially in the highest floors, several supporting restaurants resembling flying saucers.

For a larger view of this gallery see Shanghai (architecture images).

Geography and climate

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Average temperature (red) and precipitations (blue) in Shanghai

Shanghai faces the East China Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean), and is bisected by the Huangpu River. Puxi contains the city proper on the western side of Huangpu River, while an entirely new financial district has been erected on the eastern bank of the Huangpu in Pudong.

Shanghai experiences all four seasons, with freezing temperatures during the winter season and a 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit) average high during the hottest months of July and August. Occasionally, the summer temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahreheit). Winter is typically grey, and summers can be quite humid. Autumn and spring in Shanghai are warm and crisp, and generally agreed as the best time to be in Shanghai. Winter begins in mid December and ends around late February. Heavy rain is frequent around mid-June to July.


 skyline by day
Pudong skyline by day
Missing image
Traffic around People's Square.

Shanghai has an excellent public transportation system and in contrast to other major Chinese cities has clean streets and surprisingly little air pollution. The public transportation system in Shanghai is flourishing: Shanghai has more than one thousand bus lines and the Shanghai Metro (subway) has four lines (numbers 1, 2, 3, 5) at present. According to the development schedule of the Government, by the year 2010, another 8 lines will be built in Shanghai.

Shanghai has two airports: Hongqiao and Pudong International. Transrapid (a German maglev company, which has a test track in Emsland, Germany), constructed the first operational maglev railway in the world, from Shanghai's Long Yang Road subway station to Pudong International Airport. It was inaugurated in 2002. Commercial exploitation has started in 2003. It takes 8 mins to travel 30km.

As of December 2004, Shanghai's port is the largest in the world.

Three railways intersect in Shanghai: Beijing-Shanghai Railway passing through Nanjing(京沪线 Jing Hu Line), Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway (沪杭线 Hu Hang Line), and Xiaoshan-Ningbo (萧甬线 Xiao Yong Line).

Expressways from Beijing (Jinghu Expressway) and from the region around Shanghai liaise with the city. There are ambitious plans to build expressways to connect Chongming Island. Shanghai's first ring road expressway is now complete.

Within Shanghai itself, there are elevated roads, which appear expressway-like in road conditions (direction-separated lanes). Tunnels and bridges are used to link Puxi to Pudong.

People and culture

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. Nearly all Shanghainese under the age of 50 can speak Mandarin fluently; and those under age of 25, have had contact with English since primary school.

Shanghai is the birthplace of everything considered modern in China; and was the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century. It was the intellectual battleground between socialist writers who concentrated on critical realism (pioneered by Lu Xun and Mao Dun) and the more bourgeois, more romantically and aesthetically inclined writers (such as Shi Zhecun, Shao Xunmei, Ye Lingfeng, Eileen Chang). Zhongshu Qian's classic novel Fortress Besieged is partially set in Shanghai.

Besides literature, Shanghai was also the birthplace of Chinese cinema. China’s first short film, The Difficult Couple (Nanfu Nanqi, 1913), and the country’s first fictional feature film, Orphan Rescues Grandfather (Gu’er Jiuzu Ji, 1923) were both produced in Shanghai. These two films were very influential, and established Shanghai as the center 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, who committed suicide in 1957. The talent and passion of Shanghainese filmmakers following World War II and the Communist Revolution contributed enormously to the development of the Hong Kong film industry.

Shanghainese people have been stereotyped by other Chinese (both urban and rural) as being pretentious, arrogant, and xenophobic; and at the same time admired for their meticulous attention to detail, faithfulness in contract, and professionalism. There is a very common saying among mainlanders that Shanghai women are the most beautiful in China. Nearly all registered Shanghainese residents are descendents of immigrants from the two small adjacent provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, regions that generally speak the same family of dialects as the Shanghainese, that is Wu Chinese. Much of pre-modern Shanghainese culture is an integration of cultural elements from these two regions. The Shanghainese dialect reflects this as well. Recent migrants into Shanghai, however, come from all over China, do not speak the local dialect and are therefore forced to use Mandarin as a lingua franca. Rising crime rate, littering, harassive panhandling, and overloading of basic infrastructure (mainly public transportation, schools) associated with the rise of these migrant populations (over 3 million new migrants in 2003 alone) have been generating some extent of ill will and xenophobia from the Shanghainese. The new migrants are easy to spot by the Shanghainese, and are often targets of both intentional and unintentional discrimination. This further intensifies the misunderstandings and stereotypes between the Shanghainese and the Chinese outside of the Lower Yangtze basin.

One uniquely Shanghainese cultural element is the Shikumen residencies (longtang), which are characteristic two or three-storey black/gray brick structures cut across with a few decorative dark red stripes. Each residence is connected and arranged in straight alleys, with the entrance to each alley, the gate, wrapped by a stylistic stone arc (the name Shikumen is literally stone gate). The Shikumen residencies is a cultural blend of the elements found in Western architecture with traditional Lower Yangtze Chinese architecture and social behavior. All traditional Chinese dwellings had a courtyard, and the Shikumen was no exception. Yet, to compromise with its urban nature, it was much much smaller, and served mainly as a room without a roof, providing a "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. Before World War II, more than 80% of the population in the city lived in these kinds of dwellings.

Other Shanghainese cultural artifacts include the cheongsam, a modernization of the traditional Chinese/Manchurian qipao garment first appeared in the 1910s in Shanghai. The cheongsam dress was slender with a high cut, and tight 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 an 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.

Much of the Shanghainese culture (Shanghainese Pops) were transferred to Hong Kong by the millions of Shanghainese emigrants and refugees after the Communist Revolution. The movie In the Mood for Love (Hua Yang Nian Hua) 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.

Cultural sites in Shanghai include:

See also: Shanghai cuisine

Sister Cities

Shanghai has city partnerships with the following cities:

Colleges and universities


Shanghai Conservatory of Music
Shanghai Conservatory of Music



Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

Shanghai in fiction


  • Han Bangqing (韩邦庆), Shanghai Demi-monde (海上花列传; pinyin: Haishang Hua Liezhuan), also called Flowers of Shanghai, a novel following the lives of Shanghainese flower girls and the timeless decadence surrounding them. First published in 1892 during the last two decades of the Qing Dynasty, with the dialogue completely in vernacular Wu Chinese. The novel set a precedent for all Chinese literature and was highly popular until the standardization of vernacular Standard Mandarin as the national language in the early 1920s. It was later translated into Mandarin by Eileen Chang, a famous Shanghainese writer during World War II. Nearly all her works of bourgeois romanticism are set in Shanghai, and many have been made into arthouse films (see Eighteen Springs).

Besides Eileen Chang, other Shanghainese "petit bourgeois" writers in the first half of 20th century: Shi Zhecun, Liu Na'ou and Mu Shiyang, Shao Xunmei and Ye Lingfeng.

Socialist writers include: Mao Dun (famous for his Shanghai-set ZIYE), Ba Jin, and Lu Xun.

  • Andr Malraux, La Condition Humaine, 1933 (Man's Fate, 1934), a novel about the defeat of a communist regime in Shanghai and the choices the losers have to face. Malraux won the 1933 Prix Goncourt of literature for the novel.


See also: Shanghai woman

Astronomical phenomena

The next total solar eclipse as seen from Shanghai (downtown) will be Solar eclipse of 2009-Jul-22 (July 22, 2009).

Wikisource has an article about solar eclipses as seen from Shanghai from 2001 to 3000. [1] (

More Photos

Nanjing Road by night
Nanjing Road by night
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Xin Tian Di District at night
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Shanghai (Pudong district) - panoramic view
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Alternate View of Pudong


The tallest structure in China, the distinctive Oriental Pearl Tower, is located in Shanghai. Its lower sphere is now available for living quarters, starting at very high prices. The Jin Mao tower located nearby is mainland China's tallest skyscraper, and ranks fifth in the world.

Shanghai will be the host of Expo 2010, a World's Fair.

Professional sports teams in Shanghai include:

The city has hosted the first Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on 26 September 2004.

See also


External links

Province-level divisions administered by the People's Republic of China Missing image
Flag of the People's Republic of China

Provinces¹: Anhui | Fujian | Gansu | Guangdong | Guizhou | Hainan | Hebei | Heilongjiang | Henan | Hubei | Hunan | Jiangsu | Jiangxi | Jilin | Liaoning | Qinghai | Shaanxi | Shandong | Shanxi | Sichuan | Yunnan | Zhejiang
Autonomous Regions: Guangxi | Inner Mongolia | Ningxia | Tibet | Xinjiang
Municipalities: Beijing | Chongqing | Shanghai | Tianjin
Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong | Macau
¹ See also: Political status of Taiwan

ar:شانغهاي bg:Шанхай cs:Šanghaj da:Shanghai de:Shanghai et:Shanghai es:Shanghai eo:Ŝanhajo fr:Shangha id:Shanghai it:Shanghai he:שנגחאי zh-min-nan:Siōng-hái ms:Shanghai na:Shanghai nl:Sjanghai ja:上海 no:Shanghai pl:Szanghaj ro:Shanghai ru:Шанхай sl:anghaj fi:Shanghai sv:Shanghai vi:Thượng Hải zh:上海


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