Shanghai is the most populated city in China and also the largest city (proper) in the entire world. The most recent population total estimate is a staggering 23,470,000. The city is a centre of technique, trade, finance, information and culture and also is home to the biggest port in China. In 1987, when Shanghai’s population was at 11 million, the city’s buildings were particularly old and uninteresting. Today however, as can be seen from the picture above, the city is one of the most modern in the world, full of skyscrapers and futuristic looking buildings. Shanghai Tower for example, which is due to be completed in 2015, is the world’s second tallest building. With Shanghai’s economic growth therefore, it is not surprising that the city attracts many migrants. Many people from poorer rural areas migrate to Shanghai in the hope of better job opportunities and an overall better quality of life (rural-urban migration).
However, this rapidly increasing population is posing risks for Shanghai. The subsequent urbanisation has led to problems such as inadequate land resources and air pollution. There has also been significant pressure placed on the city’s limited farmland as urban development increasingly encroaches upon it. At the end of 2012, agricultural land was less than 2,600 square kilometres and it is continually decreasing. There has also been an increase in the amount of waste flowing into rivers and creeks, resulting in more than half of Shanghai’s rivers and lakes being heavily polluted and much of their soil beds contaminated. Furthermore, increasing pressure is being placed on an already limited resource base to provide more food, housing, highways and landfill sites.
Shanghai therefore needs to ensure it can cope with its increasing population growth in a sustainable way.