Shanghai is the largest city in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is home to over 24 million people and its container port is the busiest in the world. The city grew into a major administrative, shipping, and trading town due to the European recognition of its favorable port location and economic potential. Below is a recount of how the city came to be.
1. 960–1279 - Shanghai is upgraded from a village to a market town by the Song Dynasty.
2. 1292 - From the year 1292 to the 1927, the city was just a simple administrative center of the Songjiang prefecture. However, in the year 1927, it would become a big city.
3. During the Ming Dynasty - The city's growth during the Ming Dynasty grew due to two factors. The first was the completion of a wall surrounding the city in 1554 that deterred the Japanese raids and the second one was the erection of a City God Temple in 1602.
4. 1684 - Emperor Kangxi reversed a ban imposed during the Ming Dynasty that prohibited the movement of goods by large sea faring ships.
5. 1732 - This year saw the movement of the customs house from Jiangsu to Shanghai in a move seen to be a major boost to the growth of Shanghai as a port city.
6. 1839–1842 - The first Opium war was fought but it was to be ended by the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 which allowed the British to dictate opening the treaty ports, Shanghai included, for international trade. This would lead to another treaty, Sino-American Treaty of Wanghia, which would allow the Americans and the Chinese to trade within the boundaries of China unhampered.
7. 1920s and 1930s - This period saw a huge influx of peoples from all other regions of Asia come and work in Shanghai. In fact, about 20,000 Russians and Jews fled the newly created Soviet Union and took up residency in Shanghai. This would create a huge pool of qualified manpower which made Shanghai the biggest Trading center in China.
8. 1937 - The battle of Shanghai saw occupation of the Chinese controlled areas of Shanghai. In fact, in 1941, the Japanese would occupy Shanghai until it surrendered in 1945.
After this period, Shanghai was a major tax contributor to the Central government exchequer and this hampered its own development. It is not until 1991 that the China's central government allowed the city to initiate large development projects that saw the city leapfrog into a modern metropolis. If you have never visited the city, you would be surprised by its greatness. Make it one of your prime destinations during your China tour. It is second only to Hong Kong and Beijing in greatness.