A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.
For example, in the American state of Massachusetts an article of incorporation approved by the local state legislature distinguishes a city government from a town. In the United Kingdom and parts of the Commonwealth of Nations, a city is usually a settlement with a royal charter. Historically, in Europe, a city was understood by some to mean an urban settlement with a cathedral. The belief in this distinction is also common in England, where the presence of a cathedral is thought by many to distinguish a 'city' (sometimes called a 'cathedral city') from a 'town' (which has a parish church); the belief is incorrect (Chelmsford, for example, became a city only in 2012, but had a cathedral for most of the 20th century).
Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010[update]. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.
Located in the Yangtze River Delta in East China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.
For centuries a major administrative, shipping, and trading town, Shanghai grew in importance in the 19th century due to European recognition of its favorable port location and economic potential. The city was one of several opened to foreign trade following the British victory over China in the First Opium War and the subsequent 1842 Treaty of Nanking which allowed the establishment of the Shanghai International Settlement. The city then flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became the undisputed financial hub of the Asia Pacific in the 1930s. However, with the Communist Party takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was reoriented to focus on socialist countries, and the city's global influence declined. In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of the city, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city.