Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of China, with a total population of near 24 million as of 2013. 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 at the mouth of the Yangtze River 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 several opened to foreign trade following the British victory over China in the First Opium War and the subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking which allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement. The city then flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became the undisputed financial hub of the Asia Pacific in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was reoriented to focus on socialist countries, and the city’s global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted 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 and Yu Garden, as well as the extensive Lujiazui skyline 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 is always a fun to visit. The commerce river – Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, is lined up with a gallery of different architectures, known as the Bund, beckoning to curious visitors and smart locals alike. Although erected during different periods in varying styles such as Gothic, Romanesque or Baroque, those fifty-two buildings stand together in perfect harmony. When night falls, the two most famous – Bank of China Building and the Peace Hotel – are bathed in lavender lighting, and are the most telling witness to the past century of the Bund. Mansions, garden estates, clubs and cathedrals built by Westerners a century ago are scattered throughout the city. There is even a synagogue, built during the days of an unprecedented Jewish immigration here. Traditional treasures, though not so many as in Beijing, turns up on a walk through the chaotic old city: a teahouse, active temples, ancient pagodas and quintessential southern-Chinese classic gardens such as the Yuyuan Garden. Across the Huangpu River from the original settlement of Puxi is the city’s future, the Pudong New Area. Its modern and ever-expanding skyline includes the emblematic Orient Pearl Tower, the highest observation decks in Asia, the soaring modern art-deco Jin Mao Tower and the 101-floor World Financial Centre featuring the Park Hyatt hotel, the tallest hotel in the world.
In 2004, it hosted the inaugural A1GP World Cup of Motorsport and later that year Time magazine called Shanghai the ‘world’s most happening city.’ In October 2007 the city hosted the first Special Olympic Games ever held in Asia. The city’s centre-stage status continues, in 2010, when it hosts World Expo.
Easily China’s richest city and the leading trendsetter in fashion, design and the arts, Shanghai is the best city in the country for dining and shopping. Locals of the city, considered frank, efficient, and progressive, are creating the country’s most outward-looking, and modern metropolis, replete with legions of futuristic skyscrapers, glitzy restaurants, bars, hotels, brand awareness and shopping savvy, competing with rival Asia cities such as Hong Kong, and Singapore.