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Shanghai started out as a coastal fishing community, and grew as an urban trading area during the Tang Dynasty. The area initially prospered as a ship building and textile producing city, and became a major shipping port in the 13th century. Shanghai was such a fantastic port on into the Qing dynasty because it was not only a coastal port, but they had great ability to ship inland up the Yangtze River.
In 1840 the British occupied Shanghai during the Opium War, the result of this conflict established Shanghai as a treaty port and a set of foreign concessions in the city were built, areas managed by Britain, France, and the United States. The build of foreign presence in Shanghai was followed by times of conflict, the worst of which was the Sino-Japanese war. Early communist party meetings occurred in Shanghai, and when they rose to national power in 1949, the foreign presence withdrew from Shanghai.
Along with the rest of China, Shanghai started opening its doors in 1976, and the city has a pace of economic development several paces ahead of the rest of the country. Pudong was designated a development zone in 1990, and this helped encourage further investment both domestically and internationally. The city has a vibrant expat community, and its economic success attracts a workforce from across the country, if not the world.