Shanghai is China's most populous city and the largest city proper in the entire world. It's both a major financial center and a global city and sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the Yangtze River Delta of East China. Known as the Pearl of the Orient and the Paris of the East, Shanghai's population in 2016 is estimated to be just over 24 million, which means it has surpassed the entire population of nearby Taiwan.
The population of Shanghai is estimated to be 24.15 million in 2016, which actually declined 0.4% year over year. The city ranks first in China and 5th in the world in terms of population, and it has an average population density of 2,059 people per square kilometer, although this number increases to 3,854 people per square kilometer in urban areas.
The city has a total area of 6,340.5 square kilometers (2,448 sq mi) and it is mostly flat, except for a few hills in the southwest region, and the average elevation is just 4 meters. Shanghai also has an extensive network of rivers, canals, lakes and streams, all of which combine to create the perfect setting for a large population.
Shanghai has been one of the fastest developing cities in the world for the last twenty years, with double-digit growth nearly every year since 1992, with the exception of the global recession of 2008-2009.
According to the 2010 Census, Shanghai's population was 89.3% (20.6 million) urban and 10.7% (2.5 million) rural. More than 39% of Shanghai's residents are long-term migrants, a number that has tripled in ten years. Migrants are primarily from Anhui (29%), Jiangsu (16.8%), Henan (8.7%) and Sichuan (7.0%), while almost 80% are from rural areas. Interestingly, they have made up the largest percentage of the city's growth, as Shanghai's natural growth rate has been negative since 1993 because of low fertility rates.
Like most of China, the vast majority (98.8%) of Shanghai's residents are of Han Chinese ethnicity, with only 1.2% belonging to minority groups. Still, the number of minorities in Shanghai has grown by an astounding 165.5% since 2000, which is faster than the overall population growth.
Shanghai also has over 150,000 officially registered foreigners, including approximately 31,500 Japanese, 21,000 Americans, and 20,700 Koreans. These numbers are based on official figures, so the real number of foreign citizens in the city is probably much higher.
Shanghai has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and the highest in mainland China, at 83 years.
Shanghai Population Growth
While some would believe that Shanghai has hit its peak population, this is far from the truth. It's projected that Shanghai, along with Beijing, will have a population of more than 50 million by 2050, which is double the current level because of fast-paced urbanization in the region and strong economic growth.
China has become known around the world for its famous one-child policy, which has helped to keep the population in check. On the other hand, this also contributed to a shrinking workforce in the area as well as a rapidly aging population. Migrants from the rural areas of the country turned to Shanghai, giving the city the growth it was after. The migration to the area will fuel growth for decades to come, as Shanghai itself has had a negative natural growth rate for twenty years due to low fertility rates. The one-child policy came to an end in the country in early 2016, but Shanghai has implemented a five-year plan to curb growth to 25 million.
China is also testing reforms to its hokou system, which will offer incentives to migrants moving to urban areas in the cities, providing them the same benefits as local residents.
The city still has a lot of demographic problems to overcome. This includes a very low fertility rate, an imbalance in the gender ratio (113 boys:100 girls) and an increasing age, which may become a burden as the city grows further.