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Shanghai Travel Guide

Situated on the coastline where the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea is China's largest city, Shanghai, home to about 24 million people. The name of the city means 'on the sea', and most of it (including Chongming Island) is only a few metres above sea level, criss-crossed by a maze of picturesque natural waterways.

Shanghai is China's industrial and commercial capital. It is a busy seaport, a science and technology centre, and has a vibrant business community. Visitors don't generally come to Shanghai for its scenic beauty or history, but those who arrive on business can find plenty of off-duty entertainment and relaxation. Indeed, the city is drawing an increasing numbers of tourists with its neon cityscape, exotic nightlife, and booming shopping scene. Just walking the busy streets and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere is worthwhile, with temples and gardens to visit along with a handful of excellent museums.

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 to put 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 on Earth and symbolic of this glitzy rejuvenation.

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