Shanghai is a multi-cultural metropolis with both modern and traditional Chinese features. The city has a status equivalent to that of a province, and reports directly to the central government. Serving as the largest base of Chinese industrial technology, one of the most important seaports and China's largest commercial and financial center, shanghai draws the attention of the whole world.
The city, whose name literally means "on the sea", is located on the East China coast just to the south of the mouth of the Yangtze River. Bordering on Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the west, Shanghai is washed by the East China Sea in the east and Hangzhou Bay in the south. It also occupies a central location along China's coastline. Thanks to its advantageous geographic location, Shanghai is an excellent sea and river port, boasting easy access to the vast hinterland.
Except for a few hills lying in the southwest corner, most parts of the Shanghai area are flat and belong to the alluvial plain of the Yangtze River Delta. The average elevation is about 4 meters above sea level.
Dotted with many rivers and lakes, the Shanghai area is known for its rich water resources. Most of the rivers are tributaries of the Huangpu River. Originating from Taihu Lake, the 113 kilometer long Huangpu River winds its way through the downtown area of the city. The river ranges from about 300 to 770 meters wide with an average width of 360 meters. The ice-free Huangpu River is the main waterway in the Shanghai area.
The city covers an area of 6,340.5 square kilometers, and extends about 120 kilometers north/south and nearly 100 kilometers east/west. Shanghai has an urban area of 2,643 square kilometers, land area of 6,219 square kilometers and water area of 122 square kilometers. The city's Chongming Island is the third largest island in China, covering an area of 1,041 square kilometers.
Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in China. It has a permanent resident population of over 14.57 million, of which 12.21 million live in the urban areas. Shanghai population accounts for 1.1% of the Chinese population, with the average density of 2059 inhabitants per square kilometer (3854 in the urban areas). There is a huge floating population of itinerant workers, probably numbering about two million.
Shanghai is divided into 16 districts and 3 counties. There are 205 towns, 9 townships, 99 sub-districts committees, 3,278 neighborhood committees and 2,935 villagers' committees in the city. The 16 districts are Hangpu, Luwan,Changning,Putuo, Hongkou,Minhang, Jiading, Jinshan, Songjiang, Qingpu, Nanshi, Xuhui, Jing'an, Zhabei, Yangpu, Baoshan, and Pudong New Area. The 3 counties are Fengxian, Nanhui and Chongming.
Design of the city emblem of Shanghai was approved by the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress in 1990. The triangle emblem consists of a white magnolia flower, a large junk and a propeller. The propeller symbolizes the continuous advancement of the city; the large junk, one of the oldest vessels plying Shanghai's harbor, represents the long history and bright future of the port. The junk is set against a white magnolia flower blossoming in the early spring.
In 1986, the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress passed a resolution adopting the white magnolia as the city flower. The white magnolia is among the few spring flowers in the Shanghai area. It is in full blossom in early spring and before the Clear and Bright Festival, which usually falls on April 5. The flower has large, white petals and its eye always looks towards the sky. Therefore, the flower symbolizes the pioneering and enterprising spirit of the city.
Broadly, central Shanghai is divided into two areas: Pudong (east of the Huangpu River) and Puxi (west of the Huangpu River). On the east side of the Huangpu is Pudong, a special economic zone with many commercial buildings, skyscrapers and new residential compounds. The Bund lies on the historic Puxi side of the Huangpu River and looks across to the new skyline of Pudong business district. West of the old town and hidden in the backstreets north and south of Huaihai Street (Shanghai's premier shopping street) is the former French Concession, with tree-lined streets, 1930s architecture, and cafes and bars. At its western end is a major collection of Western-style restaurants and bars. Continuing southeast is Xujiahui with its massive shopping intersection. Farther south is Shanghai Stadium. Western Shanghai is dominated by Hongqiao, a zone of hotels, conference centers, and business offices. Farther west is Gubei, an expat area. Northeastern Shanghai has an industrial feel and is home to several universities. Further northwest is Zhabei and Shanghai train station. Street names are given in Pinyin, which makes navigating easy, and many of the streets are named after cities and provinces in China.