Sunday, February 13, 2011


We always like to know what is the history behind our name, or even perhaps what we would have been named if we were the opposite gender. In this blog post I want to know what the history behind my birth place is.  I was borne in the largest city, or at least the most populous city, in China –Shanghai. This city lies on the Eastern coast of China and is home to about 19 million people. It is situated on right on the estuary of the Yangtze River, so is in a really nice economic location.

Chinese Name: 上海 (shàng hǎi)
Meaning of the Name: Above the Sea
Area: 7,037 square miles
Population: ~19 million
Geography: Yangtze River Delta, Southeast China
Government: Municipality


There are sites around Shanghai that date back to the Neolithic period, showing that there were people living in that area 6,000 years ago. In the 10th-11th century, a small fishing village was formed and began to grow. However, it wasn’t until the Qing dynasty (17th century) that Shanghai began to grow international importance. Because of its location, it was an important city for international shipping, as there were large quantities of cotton cloth that came through the port of Shanghai.

In 1840, the British entered Shanghai and forced a treaty that began foreign concessions. These foreign concessions were basically just territories within China that were governed and occupied by a foreign nation – not subjected to Chinese law (though this is sometimes just called colonialism). The British were the first ones to do this in China, and other countries would follow suit. The last concessions returned back to China was actually Hong Kong in 1997 and Macau in 1999.

Shanghai in 1946

By the 1930s, Shanghai has become the most important port in Asia. It is at this time, that Shanghai also becomes a haven for Jews fleeing from the Nazis. A bit earlier, some White Russians and Russian Jews had fled from the newly established Soviet Union. During WWII, however, Shanghai gets captured by the Japanese, and these foreigners begin to flee…but of course when Japan gets defeated, Shanghai becomes liberated. Following WWII, the Chinese Communist party takes control, and during the next 30 years, industries suffer as the government takes control of formerly private owned businesses. When Mao dies and Deng Xiaopeng comes into power, there is a commercial and industrial revival that allowed Shanghai to become one of the key players in the development of Chinese economy.

Present Day Shanghai

The history of Shanghai is quite long standing, and has changed from just a small fishing village into one of the largest metropolitans in the world.

1 comment:

  1. Tina-
    What a great post. I have never been to Shanghai but am actually going next year and I can't wait!! Before reading your post, I never knew all the history behind Shanghai. China is such a cool place, with so much great history underneath the surface. I feel like I learn something new and exciting about China on a daily basis (especially as a Chinese major). Your blog serves as such a readable way to shed light on China's unique history. It really is amazing to see the transformation that China has made over the past few decades, and even more impressively in past few years. I'd love to read your thoughts on the fact China just surpassed Japan as the world's number two economy. Keep up the great work!