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Above the sea for 2,000 years

Janine Gates |
For anyone interested in the history of modern China Shanghai is an ideal place to start the adventure.

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Called the Oriental Pearl, the city has rich heritage and a unique place in 21st century China. The two Chinese characters in the name Shanghai literally mean "above the sea". It is situated on the estuary of Yangtze River, a position that led to frequently unwelcomed intervention from foreigners seeking to impose their exports on the Empire during the 19th century. However, in the 1920s and the 1930s, Shanghai became an important international trade center. With its advantaged natural conditions, rapid development and splendid oriental culture, Shanghai was famed as the Oriental Paris and attracted many entrepreneurs and established businesses.

In addition, many foreign scientists, literary figures and artists chose to live, give lectures or just experience the Chinese charm in Shanghai. They included Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Bernard Shaw and the poet Rabindranath Tagore, to name but a few. However, by the middle of the 20th century, the glory of the city was in decline.

Having suffered the ravages of war, turmoil and economic crisis, the fortunes of Shanghai have been revived thanks to the great Reform and Opening Up since 1978. Today more than 300 of the world's top 500 enterprises have opened branches in Shanghai, while many have their research and development centers or headquarters there.

Pudong New Area has developed in just five years, and Lujiazui in Pudong has become one of the foremost world class financial and trade zones in Asia. Skyscrapers such as Jinmao Tower and Shanghai Global Financial Center dominate the skyline, while landmark constructions like Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Pudong International Airport and Shanghai International Convention Center offer the finest and best of modern facilities.

Shanghai's rapid development has come as a great surprise to many in China and has international recognition. Shanghai has grown from a provincial city into an international metropolis on par with New York and Paris in just ten years. No other city in the world has done this - it is unique!

Hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world go to Shanghai to see for themselves its great economic impulse, distinctive attractions and its blend of Eastern and Western cultures. In the eyes of westerners, Shanghai has special oriental charm, while in the eyes of Chinese, Shanghai has a fresh western style. Wherever you come from and whoever you are, you will find Shanghai an ideal tour destination.

Shanghai has many attractions in the downtown area, including Huangpu River, the Bund, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jinmao Tower, Shanghai Museum, Yuyuan Garden, Xin Tian Di and the special old Nanjing Roadstreets and lanes. Besides, there are places well worth a visit in the suburbs such as Qibao Ancient Town, Zhujajiao Water Town and Chongming Island for in addition to its modern facets, the city has a wealth of more ancient Chinese traditions.

Dining will be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your Shanghai trip. In addition to Shanghai dishes, restaurants in the city offer a wide variety of foods from other parts of China as well as a number of foreign countries.

Shanghai is a shopper's paradise. There are various bustling commercial streets and shopping centers waiting for you. These include Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road, North Sichuan Road, Xujiahui Shopping Center, Yuyuan Shopping City and Jiali Sleepless City. The convenient transportation, comfortable Shanghai hotels, and colorful places of entertainment will enhance your stay in this fascinating city.

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