Role of Geography in Political, Economic and Social Life of Shanghai’s Citizens


As it is known, due to the rapid growth and development Shanghai takes an important place in the contemporary world. Being a considerable political, economical and cultural spot of China, the country with the biggest economy, the prosperity of this city is not surprising. Furthermore, to a great extent, the geographical location of this city can be named as a significant factor in its successful development. Specifically, it affects political and cultural attitudes of the local dwellers and encourages constant improvement of its economy. This paper aims to identify and reveal the main geographical characteristics of this megalopolis and discuss the meaning of these variables in the life of modern Shanghai. 


Physical Geography

First and foremost, exploring the territorial expansion of this city, one should refer to the statistics. The general area of Shanghai is 6,340.5 km2 (2,448.1 sq mi). The land territory occupies 6,218.65 km2 (2,401.03 sq mi). Similarly, its water spaces comprise 121.85 km2 (47.05 sq mi).

As regards the geographical location of the city, it is necessary to emphasize that its climate and nature are greatly influenced by the proximity of the water. In particular, “it is bordered by the Yangtze River to the north, the East China Sea to the east, Hangzhou Bay to the south, and Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west”. Given the importance of water reservoirs for the well-being and prosperity of all living organisms including people, it is not surprising that Shanghai is situated on the banks of the Huangpu River. 

What is more, the city is known for its numerous lakes and rivers, which, due to local subtropical climate, are ice-free the whole year round. Shanghai has 53.1 km (33.0 mi) of various water reservoirs. Therefore, it is natural that apart from its continental part, the city contains numerous islands. For example, the three largest Shanghai islands are Chongming Island, Changxing Island and Hengsha Island. In addition, there are many small islands that regionally belong to this city. Without doubt, these peculiarities of Shanghai’s geographical position are greatly favorable for its economic and cultural prosperity. 

Depicting local landscapes, one can observe mostly flat lands of Shanghai’s area. Nevertheless, in the southwest part of the city there are several hills, the location of which is predetermined by “the alluvial plain of the Yangtze’s river delta”. These hills mitigate the climate and add value to this area in terms of tourism. 

Climate of Shanghai

Proceeding to describe the climate of Shanghai, it is necessary to mention that the closeness and abundance of water reservoirs predetermine high humidity of this area. Therefore, Shanghai is characterized with humid subtropical climate. All four seasons are clearly distinguishable in the region. Specifically, in winter during night the temperature may drop below zero, which is typical for this area and happens due to the cold Siberian winds. Speaking about winter precipitations, one should comprehend that snowfalls are not typical for this climate; however, the dwellers of Shanghai may enjoy a snowy day or two per year. 

In contrast to winter, summer is known to be vastly humid and hot with periodical rainfalls and thunderstorms. It is appropriate to mention that during summer time Shanghai accepts the biggest amount of tourists. Given the moist and heat of summer period, it is not surprising that spring and autumn are the most comfortable time both for living and for visiting; although the weather in spring is quite changeable. Speaking about changeability, occasionally, Shanghai has to endure typhoons. Fortunately, none of them were reported in the recent years. Therefore, one can rightfully conclude that the averse weather conditions do not have a significant negative effect on the development of local economy and culture. 

What is more, the particularities of the Shanghai’s climate can be comprehended while referring to the following statistics:

  • Average annual temperature: 18.4 °C (65.1 °F); 
  • Highest recorded air temperature: 38.6 °C (101.5 °F)
  • Lowest recorded air temperature: −3.5 °C (25.7 °F)
  • Annual hours of sunshine: 1,638.2
  • Annual days of sunshine: 73
  • Evaporation: 862.1 mm (33.9 in)
  • Precipitation: 1,042.6 mm (41.0 in)
  • Annual rainy days: 129
  • Frost-free period: 333 days. 

Environmental Protection

Fortunately, the humans’ awareness of the need to protect the environment raises simultaneously with the population growth. Therefore, Shanghai’s government develops and provides financial support to numerous projects directed to conservation and preservation of the environment and natural resources. For example, the state encourages the businesses that operate in the transportation industry to invest into LPG means of locomotion. Besides, it is necessary to accentuate that air pollution is relatively low in this city comparing with other Chinese megalopolises. 

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Administrative Division

Exploring city geography, it is important to review its administrative division. The downtown Shanghai is known to remain mostly the same as it was during precommunist period. This particularity is predetermined by the government’s decision to expand the suburbs of the city endeavoring to save the genuine architecture of its central part. Therefore, the modern downtown Shanghai contains numerous buildings that have been built prior to the Second World War.

The Municipal Management System

Speaking about the municipal management system of Shanghai, one should comprehend that it is represented with a two-level government (municipal and state levels) and three-level management system. The city government is responsible for maintenance of the market order, city macro-planning, industrial sector management and regulation. Meanwhile, the state government encourages the local construction and controls the performance of law enforcement agencies. The state and municipal levels of Shanghai’s government work in unity and complement one another. Besides, the third level of management system is represented with the administration of Zhen and Xiang sub-district areas. It functions to assure effective community management, which includes monitoring of traffic order, ensuring timely sanitation and providing safety to the dwellers of Shanghai.  

The Demographics of Shanghai

Observing the population of the city and its demographic changes, it is important to state that it has the largest amount of citizens in the world. Officially, Shanghai is a home-city for 17 million people. Moreover, the rapid development of China’s economy attracts numerous immigrants to the metropolitan areas such as Shanghai. That is why, according to some estimates, the real number of dwellers is about 20 million. In addition, this city is a well-known tourist region, which increases the above-stated statistics. Evaluating demographic peculiarities of Shanghai, one should emphasize the high level of urbanization (75, 3%) of this area. Respectively, the rural population represents 24.7 % of total number of citizens. Further, the gender correlation is 50.4% of males and 49.6 % of females. Moreover, it is necessary to mention that starting with 1993, Shanghai has been known to be the first Chinese city with negative natural population growth. This fact is quite beneficial for the city of such size because the humanity must be concerned about preserving natural resources. Another positive tendency is the general level of education, which is reported to enhance. Considering these positive trends in Shanghai’s demographics, one can rightfully deduce that the living standards of the local Chinese are constantly increasing, simultaneously with the rapid economic development. 

The Peculiarities of the Economic Growth

The most important characteristics of the economic growth are presented below. Firstly, the correlation between the debt and assets has decreased from 78% to 50%. Besides, the amount of businesses that operate in the non-state area raised from 10,000 to 170,000, which testifies to the steady market economy of Shanghai. Secondly, the experts report the fast growth of the foreign investment sector. For instance, in 2003 Shanghai had about 250,000 businesses that were financed by foreign investors. Thirdly, starting with the 1980s, Shanghai has launched important infrastructure projects, such as the quick mass transit system, the international air- and info-ports and the expressway connection with the nearby areas.

Summing up the above-mentioned, it is necessary to underline that macro geography of Shanghai defines the economic and demographic processes of this city. Moreover, its micro geography is determined by the economic and political trends. Generally, this city is situated in the subtropical climatic zone and is surrounded with numerous water reservoirs. Besides, the natural assets of this area are represented by the hills. These geographical characteristics make it a favorable destination for tourists, which promotes foreign investments. Shanghai maintains a friendly international policy because it helps to improve local economy and increase the living standards of the citizens by means of cooperation with the international businesses and investors. Overall, the geographical and political variables discussed above can be rightfully named as the factors that predetermine the prosperity and growth of Shanghai. 


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