Location/Culture Reports

Location Report – Shanghai, China

Setting: A thriving coastal city of 13.4 million, Shanghai is a study in contrasts. New, shiny high-rise department stores mix with abject poverty. Like many large cities, Shanghai has many neighborhoods, including the tourist area of Bund, and the backstreets of the shopping district of Huaihai Lu, which have a French influence.
Shanghai is now the poster-child of Chinese economic power, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon.
History: Shanghai is now the poster-child of Chinese economic power, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon. Shanghai’s modest roots began in the 7th Century A.D., when it was a fishing village in a vast marshland. A port city, Shanghai is at the mouth the Yangtze River, but it remained a small center of fishing and weaving until the British showed up in 1842. The French and Japanese soon followed, and created areas that were made up of autonomous international settlements, free of Chinese law.

By the 1930s, Shanghai was synonymous with everything that was seedy and exploitative. Brothels, opium dens, and gambling houses mixed with some of the great economic powers of the time. The Communists took over in 1949, and started working to eradicate the drug houses and slums.

Modern Shanghai is once again an economic powerhouse, with high-rise buildings mixing with the older international sections and the ever-present slums. More than a billion dollars was spent in 1999 to update the metro and light rail system, but traffic congestion remains a problem and is likely to get worse as more people can afford their own cars.

Climate & Nature: Shanghai was built upon a wetland, and in recent years the society has begun to recognize the importance of this natural heritage. The natural wetland in Shanghai covers an area of that encompasses 40 percent of the city's total area. The remaining wetlands in Shanghai are mainly found on islands and along creeks and rivers.
Shanghai is in the temperate region and is characterized by warm springs, hot summers, cool autumns, and cold winters. The area is quite humid, and during July and September, strong storms with torrential rain are frequent.
Trying to generally characterize 1.25 billion Chinese is impossible. Even characterizing the 13.4 million people in Shanghai is a huge task.
The People: Trying to generally characterize 1.25 billion Chinese is impossible. Even characterizing the 13.4 million people in Shanghai is a huge task. Both Chinese and western culture have merged and developed here since the mid-19th century A.D. As a testament to its European influence, the region has many Catholic and Protestant Christian churches that mix with the Buddhist temples. Long a center of weaving and textiles, the area is known for its silk embroidery of the Gu style. Prior to the clamp-down from the Communist Government, the area was known for its rich literary, film, and theatrical culture. These arts are again making a comeback today.

In general in China, there is a large gap in literacy rates, male: 95.1% vs. female: 86.5% and the life-expectancy is 72 years. Access to health care and education varies by region.

Interesting fact: All the travel guides I read about Shanghai mention that it’s impossible to get a cab at rush hour.  Go figure.

For further reading:
lonelyplant.com
expedia.co.uk