Shanghai is one of the four municipalities which, along with the 22 provinces and 5 autonomous regions form the People's Republic of China. It is the largest city in the People's Republic of China and in administrative terms has the same rights as a province.
The city is divided into 18 districts and one county. The city centre does not fall in a single district, but is spread across several of them. The business areas are centred on Lujiazui on the east bank of the Huangpu River and the Bund and Hongqiao areas in the west bank of the Huangpu River. A new financial district has been constructed on the bank of the Huangpu river in Pudong. The city hall and major administration units are located in Huangpu District. Commercial areas include Nanjing Road, in the Huangpo District, Xintiandi and Huaihai Road in Luwan district and Xujiahui in Xuhui District. The city faces the East China Sea and is bisected by the Huangpo river.
Shanghai is developing at a rapid pace, with innovative architecture and high rise developments adding to the impression of a modern, forward looking city. Town planners aim to include parks and green areas to improve the quality of life for city dwellers. Shanghai has historically been very western in lifestyle and outlook and is a critical communication point with the western world.
The climate is cold in the winter, with freezing temperatures and a 32 degrees average during the summer months. Heavy rain is common in early summer and the spring can be changeable, with warm periods interspersed with spells of heavy rain. The city can be affected by typhoons, but none has caused any significant damage in recent years.
China occupies a vast land mass (over 9 million km2) and has three distinct climatic zones. The northern part of the country, including Beijing, has severe winters with temperatures descending to artic levels, the central area, including Shanghai has a temperate climate and the southern region a subtropical climate. The landscape of the country varies from region to region, with mountains in the west and plains in the east. The majority of China's agricultural land lies around the mouths of the Huang He and Yangtze rivers, in the central eastern part of the country. The south of the country is characterised by hills and low mountain ranges. The northwest is drier, and includes the Gobi desert.
The area normally referred to as 'mainland China', which excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, is divided into 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions and 4 municipalities.