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Located at the estuary of the Yangtze River in eastern China and facing the Pacific Ocean, Shanghai sprawls across an area of over 6,340.5 square kilometers with a population of 24.4 million in 2018. The climate of Shanghai is essentially unhealthy. It lies low, and, though the early winter is enjoyable, snow and ice being occasionally seen, the summer months are swelteringly hot. There is no need to spend any time with the geology of Shanghai. It has no geology ; it is all mud.

Shanghai is called “Hu” in Chinese, for short, and has “Shen” as a nickname. Some 6,000 years ago, the western part of today’s Shanghai had already dried up into land – the eastern part followed suit about 4,000 years later. During the Spring-Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221 BC), this area was at one point the domain of Huang Xie, the Chun Shen Governor of the State of Chu. That’s why “Shen”, the title of the governor, acts as the city’s nickname. During the Jin Dynasty (the 4th-5th centuries) fishermen created a wovenbamboo fishing tool called “Hu”. By combining the name of the fishing tool and the then term for estuary of big rivers, they coined a new Chinese character, “Hu”, as a name for the area since it sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River.

Shanghai is situated in 31°15'N. lat. and 121°27' E. long., and stands on the left or western bank of the Wang-p'u' river, about twelve miles from the point where that river empties itself into the estuary of the Yang-tsze-kiang.

The history of the port may be divided capitally into two sections, first the Pre-Foreign Period, and second the Foreign Period. In both these periods Shanghai shows a continuous increase in prosperity and importance, in both cases due to the shipping trade drawn thither by facilities for shipment, distribution, trans-shipment, and collection. The exact site upon which Shanghai should rise was determined by several factors, the chief of which being its relation to the two cities of Soochow and Sungkiang. Soochow has been for many centuries an important trading centre for the network of waterways constituting the Yangtse Delta ; but its access to the sea was probably much limited by the tortuous courses of the innumerable distributaries ; and probably for this reason and also with the object of facilitating the transport of salt from the low-lying coasts of southern Kiangsu to the interior towns.

Prince Siun, the Viceroy of Yangchow, in 446 AD, ordered a canal to be cut from Soochow to the mouth of the Yangtse Kiang. It is probable that in cutting this canal advantage was taken of some natural waterway in order to reduce the expense and labour of the undertaking. That canal is now known as the Soochow Creek. If native records may be trusted, it is shorn of its pristine glory, for now a mere stream less than one hundred yards in breadth, it had once a width of ten li, i.e., about three miles. At a spot some thirty li, say, twelve miles, from the embouchure into the Yangtse was a small fishing village named Hu-Tuh. It was intended that this should be the port for Soochow, but the admirable waterway provided by the Soochow Creek, or (to give it the name by which it was then known) the Woosung Kiang, induced the skippers of the junks laden with the tribute of the sea and coast to pass further inland, and Hu-Tuh was left to the monotonous existence as a fishing village for some centuries.

Meanwhile the junks were able to reach Tsing-lung, twenty miles nearer Soochow. But the prosperity of Tsing-lung did not last for ever. The silting up of the Woosung Kiang gradually made the mart of Tsing-lung inaccessible to sea - going junks, and their skippers were obliged to draw alongside the banks at Hu-Tuh, now known as Hua-TingHai. This new name had been acquired since Hu-Tuh had come under the jurisdiction of Sung-kiang, then known as Hua-Ting. Sungkiang had formerly had direct connection with the sea by means of a river called the Huangpu, which did not touch Hu-Tuh; but, probably in this case also because of silting, that connection became impeded, and to ease matters the Sungkiang authorities had a canal cut from a point on the Huangpu to the village of Hu-Tuh on the Woosung Kiang. This gave Hu-Tuh a commanding position at the junction of two important arteries of trade, and the silted condition of both of these arteries making it impossible for sea-going boats to pass further up-stream, Hu-Tuh, having changed its name to Hua-Ting-Hai, i.e., seaport of Hua-Ting, became at last Shanghai, a seaport on its own account; and the superintendency of trade previously functioning at Tsing-lung was moved to Shanghai.

The importance of Shanghai increased with the years, and in 1288 the original city, with five suburban villages, was raised to the dignity of a “hsien,” or sub-prefectural city. Though not sufficiently important for Polo to note in his itinerary, it was a frequent resort of Arab traders, and its wealth was such as to invite frequent raids by Japanese pirates. Many of these raids were engineered from Tsung-ming, the island at the mouth of the Yangtse that was occupied by the Japanese adventurers much as the Isle of Thanet was by some of our ancestors. These raids were neither few nor far between, but perhaps the most serious occurred in 1543, when even the Imperial troops were put to fight more than once by the free. booters. Much of the success of these frequent Japanese raiders was due to the too willing assistance rendered by the Chinese gentry engaged in the same honourable calling; and also to the kindly services of native smugglers.

The walls which surround it are about 33 miles in circumference, and are pierced by seven gates. At the outset of the 20th century, the streets and thoroughfares may be said to illustrate all the worse features of Chinese cities—dirt, closeness, and absence of all sanitary arrangements; while the want of any building of architectural or antiquarian interest robs the city of any redeeming traits. Shanghai thus had nothing to recommend it except its geographical position. At the extreme eastern portion of the province of KiangSoo, and possessing a good and commodious anchorage, as well as an easy access to the ocean, it formed the prime port of central China. From the western wall of the city there stretches away a rich alluvial plain extending over 45,000 square miles, which is intersected by numerous waterways and great chains of lakes. The products of this fertile district, as well as the teas and silks of more distant regions, found their natural outlet at Shanghai. The looms of Soochow and the tea plantations of Gan-hwuy, together with the rice of this “garden of China,” had for many years before treaty days supplied the Shanghai junks with their richest freight.

Though thus favorably situated as an emporium of trade, Shanghai did not attract the attention of foreign diplomatists until the outbreak of the war of 1841, when the inhabitants purchased protection from the bombarding propensities of Admiral Parker by the payment of a ransom of one million taels. In the Nanking treaty, which was signed in the following year, Shanghai was included among the four new ports which were thrown open to trade by the terms of that document. By degrees, the manifold advantages as a port of trade possessed by Shanghai attracted merchants of all nationalities; and from the banks of the Hwang-p'u arose lines of hongs, and handsome dwelling-houses, which converted a reed-covered swamp into one of the finest cities in the East. On the one side the broad Yangtse was open to it; on the other was easy access to the capital and the great districts of the north ; while in the country behind were some of the greatest trade markets of the Celestial Empire.

Shanghai is China’s most thriving economic center, with GDP per capita climbing to US$20,398 by the end of 2018. Shanghai is a pioneer in China’s reform and opening- up, as well as innovation. A total of 670 multinational enterprises have set up regional headquarters in the city, and 441 foreigninvested R&D centers have also been established here. Shanghai is one of the world’s financial centers with its financial markets generating a total transaction volume of 1,645.78 trillion yuan and trading volumes of several products ranked top among global markets. An RMB products center, which matches the currency’s international status, has taken form in the city.

Shanghai is an important shipping center, handling 730.4794 million tons of goods in 2018. On top of that, its international container volume reached 42.0102 million TEUs, the highest in the world for nine straight years. When it comes to the number of cruise ship passengers, the city ranked fourth in the world. Some 771,600 flights were processed at Shanghai Pudong and Hongqiao international airports, reaching 117.6343 million inbound and outbound trips.

Shanghai is also a world-renowned tourism destination and an international cultural exchange center where a large number of cultural activities are organized. International tourists journeyed here 8.93 million times in 2018. The city boasts a rich and profound culture with 131 museums and 23 public libraries. It also held 175 international and domestic sporting events during the year.

Shanghai strives to become a technology innovation center. To achieve that goal, Shanghai spent heavily on R&D around 4% of its GDP. The Zhangjiang Comprehensive National Science Center plays a key role in China’s continued technological innovation. Large-scale scientific equipment, such as the soft X-ray free-electron laser and super intense ultrafast lasers, has been built. In total, 223 tech companies were listed on the Technology and Innovation Board at the Shanghai Equity Exchange.

Following on from the successes reaped as the host city of 2010 World Expo, Shanghai continues to live up to the motto “Better City, Better Life.” It remains committed to four target areas – service, manufacturing, shopping and culture. The pilot free trade zone will be expanded and a high-tech board will be set up at the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Shanghai will host the 2nd China International Import Expo in 2019.

By 2035, Shanghai aims to become an excellent global city, a modern metropolis, an economic, financial, trade, shipping and technology innovation center, and a place that is not only innovative and humanistic, but also eco-friendly.

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