The city situates on the eastern fringe of the Yangtze River Delta, which is in the centre of the coastline from north to south. Located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai enjoys convenient communications and a favorable geographical location with a good harbor and a vast hinterland. Covering an area of 6340.5 km2, land area of 6218.65 km2 and water area of 121.85 km2, the city is about 100 km wide from east to west and 120 km long from north to south.
Shanghai is administratively equal to a province and is divided into 18 county-level divisions: 17 districts and one county. There is no single downtown district in Shanghai, the urban core is scattered across several districts. Prominent central business areas include Lujiazui on the east bank of the Huangpu River, and The Bund and Hongqiao areas in the west bank of the Huangpu River. The city hall and major administration units are located in Huangpu District, which also serve as a commercial area, including the famous Nanjing Road. Other major commercial areas include Xintiandi and the classy Huaihai Road (or Avenue Joffre before Liberation) in Luwan district and Xujiahui in Xuhui District. Many universities in Shanghai are located in residential areas of Yangpu District and Putuo District.
Because of Shanghai's status as the cultural and economic center of East Asia for the first half of the twentieth century, it is popularly seen as the birthplace of everything considered modern in China. It was in Shanghai, for example, that the first motor car was driven and the first train tracks and modern sewers were laid. It was also the intellectual battleground between socialist writers who concentrated on critical realism, which was pioneered by Lu Xun and Mao Dun. Besides literature, Shanghai was also the birthplace of Chinese cinema and theater.
Shanghai has hosted a number of world events, including the 2007 Summer Special Olympics and a Live Earth concert. The Shanghai International Film Festival is annually held in the city. The city will be the host of the Expo 2010 World's Fair between May and October 2010. Shanghai is also home to a number of professional sports teams, including Shanghai Shenhua of the Chinese Super League, the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, and the Shanghai Golden Eagles of the China Baseball League. The city has also hosted the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit every year since 2004.
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, contains a rich collection of early 20th century architecture, ranging in style from neoclassical HSBC Building to the art deco Sassoon House. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well preserved, most notably the French Concession. The old city still retains some buildings of a traditional style, such as the Yuyuan Garden, an elaborate traditional garden in the Jiangnan style. In recent years, a large number of architecturally distinctive, even eccentric, skyscrapers have sprung up throughout Shanghai. Notable examples of contemporary architecture include the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Grand Theatre in the People's Square precinct and Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.
One uniquely Shanghainese cultural element is the shikumen residences, which are two or three-story townhouses, with the front yard protected by a high brick wall. Each residence is connected and arranged in straight alleys. The entrance to each alley is usually surmounted by a stylistic stone arch. The whole resembles terrace houses or townhouses commonly seen in Anglo-American countries, but distinguished by the tall, heavy brick wall in front of each house. The name "shikumen" literally means "stone storage door", referring to the strong gateway to each house.
The pillar industries in Shanghai refer to manufacturing of electronic and information-technology products, auto making, petrochemical and fine chemical processing, fine steel products manufacturing, production of complete equipment, and biomedicine. These pillar industries have been a major drive engine for the city's industrial growth.
Shanghai pays much attention to its industry. There are many industrial areas in Shanghai such as Jinqiao Export Processing Zone in Pudong New Area, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park and some other processing zones in Jiading, Qingpu, Songjiang and Minhang Districts. As a result the city's industrial production continues to grow rapidly. There is no doubt that industry makes a lot of economic profit. Other booming industries, especially the service industries, contribute a lot to Shanghai's economy. In recent years the financial market system has gradually matured, providing citizens and tourists with improved services. Domestic and international trade also has developed quickly. The Lujiazui Financial and Trade Zone in Pudong is now becoming more and more influential. It brings together many financial and commercial institutions such as stock exchanges, securities companies and insurance companies, both Chinese and foreign.
With a tremendous success achieved in reform and development, this world-known metropolis has now become not only China's center of economy, finance, trade and navigation, but also an international metropolis on the western bank of the Pacific Ocean, noted for its having an intriguing, unique blend of Chinese and Western cultures. In short, Shanghai has turned itself into an open, fashionable and dynamic metropolis. Just like Yulan (magnolia, the symbol flower of the city) in bloom, Shanghai is full of life and vitality, and, at the same time, just as a pacemaker, it strides forward day and night in high spirits.