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A Shanghainese man and woman on a wheel barrow, pre-1898.
Total population
approximately 20,000,000
Regions with significant populations
China14,000,000 people
 Hong Kongapproximately 75,000 - 250, 000
 Japanapproximately 60,000
 TaiwanAs part of Taiwanese population
 United Statesapproximately 250,000 - 300,000
 CanadaAs part of Chinese Canadian population
 AustraliaAs part of Chinese Australian population
 SingaporeAs part of Chinese Singaporean population
Shanghainese and other Taihu Wu dialects (parent tongues), Mandarin, Cantonese (by those residing in Hong Kong) and English (those who live in the Overseas Chinese diaspora population)
Predominantly Mahayana Buddhism and Chinese folk religions (including Taoism, Confucianism, ancestral worship and others), with many non religious. Minority: Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Wuyue people, Ningbo people, other Han Chinese

Shanghainese people (Chinese: 上海人; pinyin: Shànghǎirén; Shanghainese: Zaanhe-nyin [zɑ̃̀hɛ́.ɲɪ̀ɲ]) are people of Shanghai Hukou or people who have ancestral roots from Shanghai. Most Shanghainese are descended from immigrants from nearby Zhejiang and Jiangsu Province. According to 1990 census, 85% of Shanghainese people trace their ancestry to Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Only a minority are Shanghai natives, those with ancestral roots in Shanghai.

The Old City of Shanghai was a minor settlement until the later Qing Dynasty and many districts of the present municipality of Shanghai originally had separate identities, including separate but related dialects of Taihu Wu.[1] In recent decades, millions of Chinese have moved to the city, both as internal immigrants and as migrant workers. The 2010 Chinese census found 9 million of Shanghai's 23 million residents (almost 40%) were migrants without a Shanghai hukou, triple the number from the year 2000 census. These "New Shanghainese" (上海人) are generally distinguished from the Shanghainese proper as they usually refuse to learn the Shanghainese language and force local Shanghainese to speak Mandarin. [2] Comparisons can be made between the vast proportion of immigrants and immigrant-descendants that make up the population of Shanghai and that of New York City in the United States, historically a hub for immigrants to the country.


Group of men at dinner. Shanghai, China, 1874.
Group of men at dinner. Shanghai, China, 1874.

The term "Shanghainese" may thus apply to several different groups of varying exclusivity. Legally, it refers to those holding a hukou for one of the local governments in the municipality of Shanghai. Culturally, it most often means those who consider Shanghai to be their home city,[3][4] although this is sometimes restricted to those in the central districts or who speak the Shanghainese dialects of those districts (as opposed, for example, to the mutually unintelligible sub-dialects in Jinshan).[5][2]

The term Shanghainese may also refer more broadly to people from areas of the Jiangnan cultural region in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.[6] Additionally a great number of people from Shanghai itself have ancestry in these adjacent regions.[7]

Shanghainese diaspora

Main article: Chinese diaspora

Although Shanghai was long a cosmopolitan city as one of Qing Dynasty's treaty ports, its people was not connected with the large-scale emigration seen amongst the Fujianese and Cantonese. Maritime commerce did, however, create a Shanghainese community in Hong Kong.[8][9] These Shanghainese or their forebears fled China prior to the formation of the People's Republic of China by the Communist Party of China in 1949. Some actors and actresses on the TVB network, a television network based in Hong Kong, are originally from Shanghai, such as Liza Wang, Tracy Ip and Lydia Shum.

More recently, appreciable numbers of Shanghainese have migrated to other countries. There is a significant Shanghainese community in Sydney, especially in the suburbs of Ashfield, Burwood and Epping. Less-prominent communities exist in the Chinatowns of other large metropolitan areas such as New York and San Francisco in the United States, as well as Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.

See also


  1. ^ Tone, Sixth (September 5, 2016). "The Life and Death of Shanghainese". Sixth Tone. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  2. ^ a b "Revered and reviled, Shanghai dialect is making a comeback among youth". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  3. ^ "Shanghai shelves plan to revoke 'hukou' of foreign residency holders". Reuters. 2018-03-26. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  4. ^ "Shanghai tells green card holders to give up local residence rights". South China Morning Post. 2018-03-22. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  5. ^ M, Qiu Gui Su Qiu Gui Su is a native; M, arin speaker who has taught; years, arin Chinese for over 20. "What Is Shanghainese and How Is It Different From Mandarin Chinese?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2017-12-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Of Shanghai and its culture of embrace".
  8. ^ Burton, Sandra (1999-09-27), "Exodus of the Business Class", Time, archived from the original on December 27, 2011, retrieved 2011-10-06
  9. ^ Goodstadt 2010, p. 208