Shanghai is the most populous city in China and one of the world's major ports. It was established more than 700 years ago at the tip of the Changjiang River Delta on the East China Sea. By 1816, more than half a million people lived in Shanghai, and it became a thriving commercial centre.
The municipality of Shanghai is under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Government of the People's Republic of China. Population density in the central city is very high at 8,265 people per square kilometer.
The main causes of Shanghai's rapid population growth in the 1950's was due to natural increase and unregulated in-migration from the outskirts of the city. Factors responsible for the stabilization of population after that period include the success of the Government family planning programme, and a successful decentralization programme that developed satellite towns which absorbed much of the growing urban population.
Shanghai has a significant heavy industry sector, primarily, machinery manufacturing, textiles and steel. The city produces a large percentage of the power generation equipment and ships in China. Proximity to the cotton-growing regions of China and access to the coast for easy international transportation have contributed to the strategic importance of the city.
After the 1949 revolution, city planning in China emphasized integrated industrial centres consisting of complementary industries clustered together, with workers' housing nearby, so that employees were within walking distance of their workplace. The same design principles have been applied in Shanghai to more than 150 integrated developments built since 1949.
Almost all households have access to piped water, electricity and garbage collection. The solid waste in Shanghai, which has a high organic content, is carried to the surrounding rural areas and provinces and used as fertilizer. Non-organic waste is reused in pit filling or brick making, or it is sold to the recycling stations.
Infrastructure and environmental problems of the city are in the form of housing shortages and air and water pollution. Heavy dependence on coal as a source of fuel for both industrial energy and residential heating in Shanghai has resulted in significant air pollution. Shanghai has the highest cancer mortality rate in China. Also, a daily flow of approximately 4 million cubic meters of untreated human waste enters the Huangpu River creating a serious water pollution and supply problem.
Contrary to the master plan of 1953 which sought to increase the population of Shanghai, current policy seeks the continued success of decentralization from Shanghai to the seven satellite towns built around the city.