Shanghai began to take shape during the Songze Culture, approximately 5,000 years ago. The area experience many vicissitudes during the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods, and it changed hands many times.

It was first officially named as Shanghai during the Song Dynasty, when it began to rise as a trading port. During the Yuan Dynasty, the town became a vast county that consisted of today's Shanghai and the neighboring countries of Qingpu, Nanhui and Chuansha. By the time the Ming Dynasty came around, Shanghai was a trading port and one of the largest textile bases in the country. In 1843, after the Opium War, Shanghai became a foreign concession that was divided amongst Britain, France, the US and other foreign powers of the day.

On July 7, 1927, Shanghai was proclaimed as a ''special municipality'' because of its significance to the economy of the Republic of China. In 1945, after the Anti-Japanese War, the foreign concessions were returned to China. And on May 27, 1949, Shanghai was liberated from Kuomingtang rule. In that year, many of its foreign firms relocated to then British-ruled Hong Kong.

 

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