The Mandarin Chinese name of Shanghai is Shànghǎi,[a] which is written as 上海 in Chinese characters. This name means "On-the-Sea" because Shanghai used to be next to the East China Sea. Today, dirt from the Yangtze River has made
Pudong much bigger and
downtown Shanghai is about 40 kilometers (25 mi) from the open sea. The city has become so big, though, that its government now controls other areas like Pudong and
Fengxian that are still beside the sea.
Shanghai's name is a little simpler than most other Chinese cities' names, because it was a small fishing village for a long time. The short way to say its name in Chinese is still Hù[a] (沪). A hu was an old kind of fishing
trap that was made with bamboo and nets. The people around Shanghai used to use them to catch fish and crabs in
Suzhou Creek and other waterways.