Some backgound about the place
30.10.2007 - 30.10.2007 18 °C
The name of the city is a western invention. Shàng 上 hǎi 海, means "by the sea" and its advantageous location, on the banks of the Yangtze River delta, a transport way into the mainland of China, has been extremely important for it's success.
Before 1842, it was a small fishing village. The conclusion of the Opium War meant that China was forced to admit defeat to the British armies and as part of Britain's terms, China was forced to give up Hong Kong and concede some other ports as treaty ports, Shanghai being one of them. Other Western powers soon claimed the same privileges in these ports.
After the war, Britain declared Shanghai a treaty port, and the village was all of a sudden starting to transform into a city with many foreign influences. The British, the French, and the Americans each took up their own autonomous concession zones in the city, independent of Chinese law. Their colonial influences can still be seen today in the European architecture of the buildings on the Bund and in the old French Concession area.
Shanghai soon became an important industrial center and trading port in China and Shanghai gained its reputation for being one of the most cultured and sophisticated cities in the world. The rich, foreign tycoons or "taipans" led self indulgent lives by gambling in casinos, going to cabarets and spending money in brothels. Shanghai in the 19th century was one of the most glamorous, decadent and cultured cities in all of Asia. It was a cosmopolitan metropolis. From this period of roughly 100 years when foreigners had special privileges in the city, that is from 1842, when, as we mentioned, China had lost the Opium War, to 1949, the year the Communist rule started. It is from the time during these 100 years that the famous nicknames given to the city comes, such as "Whore, or Pearl, of the Orient" and "Paris of the East".
During this period there was however a big economic and social divide in the city with la ot of corruption and forreign exploitation. Marxism soon became a popular ideology among Chinese intellectuals, and in 1921, the Communist Party was first formed in Shanghai. Among it's members was a young Mao Zedong. The Communist Party and the Nationalists initially formed an uneasy alliance to reunify China under Chinese sovereignty. Shanghai was then invaded by the Japanese just before the start of World War II.
In 1949, the People's Republic of China was declared under Communist rule by Mao Zedong. And Shanghai's reign as the most cosmopolitan city in China ended when the city for some time became isolated to the world outside of China. In 1990, Shanghai was chosen as the city to drive China's economic progress. And it has responded with a booming construction industry, increasing private businesses, rising personal incomes and growing foreign investments. With it's economic progress, Shanghai is undergoing a complete revival and the city's government has set goals on overtaking Hong Kong as Asia's leading financial hub.
Shanghai is the city in China which is most like a "western" city. This is true for the architecture, as well as for the business life and the food. Of course there are many things particular to Shanghai, not least food wise, but there are also unusually many restaurants from other parts of the world. Shanghai is also probably the city in China where the English language skills are the best.
After having been closed off to the outside world for years, Shanghai is rapidly regaining its reputation as a cosmopolitan city. Beijing is of course the capital, the center of politics, culture, but Shanghai is widely regarded as the financial center of China, a progressive enterprising city, open to new ideas.
According to the Shanghai Daily today, migrants to Shanghai have increased the official population by 11% in 2005 to a total of 17.78 million (only 13.4 million have permits to live in Shanghai). In 2006 about 130,000 children were born here. Even though Shanghai does not have the largest population in China, it has the highest density of population in the country. Here live in average 2,800 people per sq km. Just in the Huang Pu area live 126,500 people (8 sqm/person). In 2006 Shanghai had approximately 51,000 foreign residents (expats).
The average income in the city is about 2 200 RMB per month. Considerably higher than in other parts.
During 2006 Shanghai's financial sector grew approximately 17,6 % and the service sector 11,6 %.
The value of the Shanghai stock Exchange was doubled to 5,8 billion RMB.
During the first week of may 2006 ca 30,000 couples were married in Shanghai. The average cost for the wedding (including party, clothes, rings, travel and photos) was 150,000 RMB.
The City can be boiling hot during summer, and freezing cold during winter. That does not necessarily mean that the temperature will get colder than -10 C but even with +5 C, the combination of high humidity and winds makes it feel so much colder and makes people shiver between December and February. Very few houses have central heating and insulation is almost non existent so sometimes your best bet can be to put on your coat, socks and gloves to watch TV. In June, July and August, when the temperature rises towards 40 C, many people seek refuge in cool shopping malls or restaurants and from there directly into air-conditioned taxis.