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In the People's Republic of China, Shanghai is one of four municipalities that are directly managed by the State Council, and it is overseen by the State Council. In addition to being situated on the southern estuary of the Yangtze River, it also contains the Huangpu River, which flows through it. In 2020, it will have a population of 24.87 million people, making it China's most populated metropolitan area, the world's most populous city proper, and the only city in East Asia with a gross domestic product (GDP) higher than the region's respective capitals. A worldwide hub for banking, business and economics; research; education; science and technology; manufacturing; tourism; culture; and transportation. Shanghai's Port of Shanghai is the world's biggest container port, with a daily throughput of more than a million containers.

Shanghai, which began as a fishing hamlet and market town in the 19th century, rose in prominence as a result of internal and international commerce, as well as its advantageous port position. After the First Opium War, the city was one of five treaty ports that were compelled to open its doors to European commerce. The Shanghai International Settlement and the French Concession were formed as a result of the events of 1937. The city thereafter grew and prospered, eventually becoming Asia's main commercial and financial centre by the 1930s. The city was the location of the important Battle of Shanghai, which took place during the Second Sino-Japanese War. With World War II, and following the Communist Party of China's (CPC) conquest of mainland China in 1949, commerce was restricted to other communist nations, and the city's worldwide importance decreased.