Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.
Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.
For centuries a major administrative, shipping, and trading town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to European recognition of its favorable port location and economic potential. The city was one of several opened to foreign trade following the British victory over China in the First Opium War and the subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking which allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement. The city then flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became the undisputed financial hub of the Asia Pacific in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was reoriented to focus on socialist countries, and the city's global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city.
Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yu Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Lujiazui skyline. It has been described as the "showpiece" of the booming economy of mainland China.
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, contains a rich collection of early 20th-century architecture, ranging in style from neoclassical HSBC Building to the art deco Sassoon House. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well-preserved, the most notable ones being the French Concession. Shanghai has one of the worlds largest number of Art Deco buildings as a result of the construction boom during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the most famous architects working in Shanghai was László Hudec, an Hungarian-Slovak architect who lived in the city between 1918–1947. Some of his most notable Art Deco buildings include the Park Hotel and the Grand Theater. Other prominent architects who contributed to the Art Deco style are Parker & Palmer, who designed the Peace Hotel, Metropole Hotel, and the Broadway Mansions, and Austrian architect GH Gonda who designed the Capital Theatre. The Bunds first revitalization started in 1986 with a new promenade by the Dutch Architect Paulus Snoeren, the completion was in the mid-1990s.
Because of Shanghai's status as the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. It was in Shanghai, for example, that the first motor car was driven and (technically) the first train tracks and modern sewers were laid. It was also the intellectual battleground between socialist writers who concentrated on critical realism, which was pioneered by Lu Xun, Mao Dun, Nien Cheng and the famous French novel by André Malraux, Man's Fate, and the more "bourgeois", more romantic and aesthetically inclined writers, such as Shi Zhecun, Shao Xunmei, Ye Lingfeng, and Eileen Chang.
In the latest 5 years Shanghai has been widely recognized as a new influence and inspiration for cyberpunk culture. Futuristic buildings such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the neon-illuminated Yan'an Elevated Road are a few examples that have helped to boast Shanghai's cyberpunk image.