Shanghai has a population of more than 18 million and is the most developed city in China. It developed as a business centre in the 1930s and has continued this success. The Huangpu River traverses Shanghai with the modern district of Pudong on the east side and the more traditional Puxi district on the west side of the river. Shanghai has a rich mixture of architectural styles reflecting its history represented by European and Asian looks, and has one of the largest art deco collections of buildings in the world.
Shanghai originated as a village in the Song Dynasty rising to prominence during the Qing Period. When wars were lost Shanghai became divided between China and eight other powers including France, the USA and Britain, resulting in the diverse styles and cultures seen in the city. During the 1930s a financial boom led to prosperity and growth. The Second World War led to a lot of lost businesses in Shanghai, however today the city is expanding and developing into a major economic and financial centre.
The city of Shanghai is well connected to other parts of China by air and rail and is a major transport hub. Getting around Shanghai is easy with a Shanghai Jiaotong Card which gives free access to the rail and bus network in and around the city. Pudong is the main International Airport. The bus network and the metro are cheap and easy to get around Shanghai, and the taxis are an alternative mode of transport albeit slightly more expensive. Shanghai is considered a safe city however travelers should be vigilant and take care of personal possessions.
Shanghai has several districts to explore, all with their own characteristics. The Bund is the old colonial riverside area with many historic buildings and a recently re developed riverfront open to the public. Once known as the Paris of the East the French Concession is a leafy district with Shikumen houses and the shopping malls in Xujiahui. For the centre of Shanghai with Peoples Square and the Shanghai Museum visit Huangpu. .The Old City of Shanghai is popular with visitors and home to Huxingting Tea House, Yu Gardens and City God Temple and is where many old wooden buildings have been preserved. Most travellers will see Pudong on arrival thanks to the International Airport location and be greeted by the skyscrapers and vast shopping malls. There are so many local delicacies to try in the many restaurants with pork being a specialty and seafood including the Shanghai hairy Crab and red cooked pork. Shanghainese is the dialect spoken in the city which is not unlike Cantonese or Mandarin.
Near Shanghai the city of Wuzhen is another water town and a place to see many traditional crafts, a shadow puppet theatre and many historic buildings. Suzhou is also worth a visit and accessible by express train. It is known as the Venice of the East and has many beautiful bridges and canals as well as being a centre fro Chinese poetry.
Shanghai began as a part of the Songjiang Country in a nameless form. It was Lord Chunshen who brought his people to this area around the Huangpu River , which is also called as the Chunshen River to honor the first king who brought his people to this area. Part of name of Shanghai comes from 'shen' which is a part of Chunshen. The other part originates from 'Hu', which was a fishing tool used locally in this area. Over time, 'Shen' and 'Hu' became ' Shanghai '.
All through the Qin Dynasty, Shanghai remained nameless, but did establish business contacts with other areas of the world. It was during the Oing Dynasty that the name of Shanghai grew far and strong. In the nineteenth century, Shanghai 's central location made it a force to reckon with in the field of business.
Shanghai has seen some turmoil due to Chang Kai-shek and the Second World War. Chang Kai-shek captured Shanghai for a while, and it was almost immediately invaded during the Second World War by the Japanese during the World War. Shanghai has also been under the control of the Allied Powers in the War, but in the 1940s, all these powers relinquished their rights on this city. The US and Britain were the first to leave their powers in 1943, followed by the French in 1946. That is the reason why today's Shanghai is reminiscent of all these cultures.