Shanghai (上海 – Shànghăi), with a population of more than 18 million (and over 5.8 million migrants), is one of the most populous and most developed cities in the People’s Republic of China.
Shanghai was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s, and remained the most developed city in Communist China. In the 1990s Shanghai again became an attractive spot for tourists worldwide.
Shanghai is a fascinating mix of East and West. It has historic shikumen houses that blended the styles of Chinese houses with European design flair, and it has one of the richest collections of art deco buildings in the world. Because there were so many Concessions (designated districts) to Western powers during the turn of the 20th century, at times the city has the feel of Paris or Montreal, while Tudor style buildings give a German flair, and the 1930s buildings put you in New York or Chicago.
In the beginning of the 1990s, the Shanghai government launched a series of new strategies to attract foreign investments. The biggest move was to open up Pudong, once a rural area of Shanghai. The strategies succeeded, and now Pudong has become the financial district of Shanghai, with numerous skyscrapers.
Today Shanghai’s goal is to develop into a world-class financial and economic center of China, and even Asia. In achieving this goal Shanghai faces competition from Hong Kong, which has the advantage of a stronger legal system and greater banking and service expertise. Shanghai has stronger links to the Chinese interior and to the central government in addition to a stronger manufacturing and technology base. Since the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, Shanghai has increased its role in finance, banking, and as a major destination for corporate headquarters, fueling demand for a highly educated and westernized workforce.
Due to rapid industrial and economic development, as well as lax governmental environment policies, Shanghai has recently been ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world. Individuals with asthma or respiratory issues should be prepared when visiting the city.