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Shanghai Travel Guide

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The Bund, Shanghai ©

Shanghai, home to almost 24 million people, is China's largest city and is situated in the centre of the coastline where the Yangtze River flows through its delta into the East China Sea. The name of the city means 'on the sea', and most of the city (including Chongming Island) is only a few metres above sea level, criss-crossed by a maze of natural waterways of the Taihu drainage basin.

Shanghai is China's industrial and commercial capital. It is a busy seaport, and a science and technology centre, and has a vibrant business community. Visitors don't generally come to Shanghai for its scenic beauty or history (the city is too young to have cultivated a classical heritage), but those who arrive on business can find plenty of off-duty entertainment and relaxation. Just walking the busy streets and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere is worthwhile, and there are some temples and gardens to visit along with an excellent museum.

This great cosmopolitan metropolis has a colourful colonial background, which has had the edge rubbed off of it during half a century of Communist rule. It was the first Chinese coastal port to be opened to Western trade in 1843, resulting in an influx of British, French, and American diplomats and business interests, each of which established their own independent enclaves. In the 1920s and 30s Shanghai was regarded as a glamorous, decadent and fashionable place to visit. It all ended with World War II and the coming to power of the Communist party, but since the early 1990s a dramatic re-building programme has been underway which is aimed at putting Shanghai back on the map as a major international finance and trade centre. The World Financial Centre, completed in 2008, is one of the tallest buildings of them all.

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