Thursday, April 1, 2010
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shanghai is the largest city in China and the largest city proper in the
world, with a population of nearly 19 million.
Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the
19th century due to its favorable port location and as one of the cities
opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished
as a center of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational
hub of finance and business by the 1930s. After 1990, the economic reforms
introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in intense re-development and financing
in Shanghai, and in 2005 Shanghai became the world's largest cargo port.
Shanghai will hold the Expo 2010, the largest event to be held in China
since the 2008 Summer Olympics.
The city is a tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such
as the Bund and City God Temple, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong
skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower. Today, Shanghai is the largest
center of commerce and finance in mainland China, and has been described as
the "showpiece" of the world's fastest-growing major economy.
The two Chinese characters in the name "Shanghai", (上, shàng; and 海, hǎi)
literally mean "up, on, or above" and "sea" The earliest occurrence of this
name dates from the Song Dynasty (11th century), at which time there was
already a river confluence and a town with this name in the area. There are
disputes as to how the name should be interpreted, but official local
histories have consistently said that it means "the upper reaches of the sea
. Due to the changing coastline, Chinese historians have concluded that in
the Tang Dynasty Shanghai was literally on the sea, hence the origin of the
name. Another reading, especially in Mandarin, also suggests the sense of
go onto the sea," which is consistent with the seaport status of the city. A
more poetic name for Shanghai switches the order of the two characters,
Hǎishàng (海上), and is often used for terms related to Shanghainese art and
Shanghai is commonly abbreviated in Chinese as Hù (沪). The single character
Hu (沪) appears on all motor vehicle license plates issued in Shanghai today.
This is derived from Hu Du (沪渎), the name of an ancient fishing village that
once stood at the confluence of Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River back in
the Tang Dynasty. The character Hu is often combined with that for Song, as
in Wusong Kou, Wu Song River, and Songjiang to form the nickname Song Hu.
For example, the Japanese attack on Shanghai in August 1937 is commonly
called the Song Hu Battle. Another early name for Shanghai was Hua Ting, now
just the name of a four star hotel in the city. One other commonly used
nickname Shēn (申) is derived from the name of Chunshen Jun (春申君), a nobleman
and locally-revered hero of the Chu Kingdom in the 3rd century BC whose
territory included the Shanghai area. Sports teams and newspapers in
Shanghai often use the character Shēn (申) in their names. Shanghai is also
commonly called Shēnchéng (申城, "City of Shēn"). The city has also had
various nicknames in English, including "Paris of the East".
During the Song Dynasty (AD 960�1279) Shanghai was upgraded in status from a
village (cun) to a market town (zhen) in 1074, and in 1172 a second sea wall
was built to stabilize the ocean coastline, supplementing an earlier dike.
From the Yuan Dynasty in 1292 until Shanghai officially became a city for
the first time in 1297, the area was designated merely as a county (xian)
administered by the Songjiang prefecture.
Under the Republic of China (1911�1949), Shanghai's political status was
finally raised to that of a municipality on July 14, 1927. Although the
territory of the foreign concessions was excluded from their control, this
new Chinese municipality still covered an area of 828.8 square kilometers,
including the modern-day districts of Baoshan, Yangpu, Zhabei, Nanshi, and
Pudong. Headed by a Chinese mayor and municipal council, the new city
governments first task was to create a new city center in Jiangwan town of
Yangpu district, outside the boundaries of the foreign concessions. This new
city center was planned to include a public museum, library, sports stadium,
and city hall.
Shanghai sits on the Yangtze River Delta on China's eastern coast, and is roughly equidistant from Beijing and Hong Kong. The municipality as a whole consists of a peninsula between the Yangtze and Hangzhou Bay, China's third largest island Chongming, and a number of smaller islands. It is bordered on the north and west by Jiangsu Province, on the south by Zhejiang Province, and on the east by the East China Sea. The city proper is bisected by the Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze. The historic center of the city, the Puxi area, is located on the western side of the Huangpu, while a new financial district, Pudong, has developed on the eastern bank.