Although official data is not yet available, the population of Shanghai in 2017 is estimated to be just over 24.1 million people.
This makes Shanghai the largest city in China, and the largest city proper in the world today.
Rapid population growth in Shanghai over recent years has been driven by immigration. The city’s natural population growth is very low, and it has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.
Located in South East China, at the mouth of the Yangtze river, Shanghai is the world’s busiest port and a major financial centre.
How many people live in Shanghai today?
The latest official data, provided by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government (document in Chinese) reveals that the estimated 2015 population of Shanghai is 24,152,700 people.
This represents a very slight decrease on the 2014 population of 24,256,800.
Unfortunately, no data has yet been published to clarify the population of Shanghai in 2017 or even 2016.
The 2015 and 2014 data has been estimated, partly based on official data from the 2010 census, which reported the 2010 population as 23,019,148.
In addition to the population recorded in official statistics, Shanghai is believed to be home to around 2 million itinerant workers.
Shanghai population growth rate
Although Shanghai’s population fell slightly in 2015, this decrease comes after many years of steady, and at some times rapid, population growth.
For example, between 2000 and 2010, the number of people living in Shanghai grew by 40.3%, from 16,407,700 in 2000 to 23,019,200 in 2010.
With the exception of 2015, population growth since 2010 has been at between 1-2% per annum.
The table below shows the population of Shanghai over time, and includes data from selected years from 1953 to 2015. Annual population figures have never been provided, so unfortunately we are unable to provide a detailed chart listing Shanghai’s population by year.
Shanghai’s low birth rate
Population growth in Shanghai has been driven almost entirely by the massive inflow of migrants into the city.
According to the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics (document in Chinese) 9 million (that’s almost 40%) of the people who live in Shanghai today are migrants.
Partly because of this, the city has one of the lowest natural birth rates in the world – Shanghai’s low fertility rate of 0.7 is regarded as one of the lowest in the world. This is well below the replacement rate of 2.33 children per woman.
Shanghai population density
Shanghai is a moderately densely populated city.
Based on 2010 data, when the population was 23,019,196 and the area of the city was 6,340.50 square kilometres, we can calculate that the population density of Shanghai was 3,630.50 people per square kilometer.
Other Shanghai demographics
98.8% of people in Shanghai are Han Chinese, making it by far the most common ethnic group in the city. The remaining 1.2% of the population is split across a number of other smaller ethnic groups.
The majority of people (86.9%) in Shanghai (survey data in Chinese) are either not religious or are not adherents of an organised religion. Of the remaining 13%, Buddhism is the largest single religion (10.4%), followed by two Christian religions – Protestantism (1.9%) and Catholicism (0.7%).
Because of its position as a trading city, Shanghai has a rich religious history, and quite a few Christian churches and Islamic mosques can be found dotted around the city alongside more numerous Buddhist and folk religion temples.
Life expectancy in Shanghai is almost ten years higher than the Chinese average of 75.15 years. According to China Daily, the average life expectancy of a person born in Shanghai is now 84.8 years.
Infant mortality is also much lower in Shanghai than in the rest of China. In 2011 it was estimated to be 5.97 deaths per 1,000 live births, a rate comparable to that in Western European and North American countries.
Foreign population in Shanghai
Fitting with its reputation as a major trading city and financial hub, Shanghai is home to one of the largest foreigner populations in China.
Approximately one in every four foreigners in China live in Shanghai.
Of the 162,381 resident foreigners in Shanghai during the 2010 census, the largest groups came from Japan (35,075), the United States (24,358) and South Korea (21,073).
The majority (95,623) were employees of foreign companies or their relatives. A further 16,064 were overseas students, or their relatives.
The table below gives more detail about the number of foreigners living in Shanghai.
Where is Shanghai? What country is Shanghai in?
Shanghai is situated on the South Eastern coast of China. It sits at the mouth of the Yangtze river.
Shanghai has been an important city for centuries and, once it was fortified, it became one of the Qing dynasty’s major sea ports.
Its location attracted the attention of European colonial powers during the late 19th century. This European interest was a double-edged sword – on the one hand it was effectively occupied by European powers, but on the other hand, it became a major East Asian trading hub.
Economic reforms implemented in China since the 1990s have reinvigorated Shanghai, and led to its resurgence as a major city on the world state.
The name Shanghai means ‘Upon the Sea’. The city has also been called, in English, the Pearl of the Orient and the Paris of the East.