Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
中華人民共和國香港特別行政區
A flag with a white 5-petalled flower design on solid red background A red circular emblem, with a white 5-petalled flower design in the centre, and surrounded by the words "Hong Kong" and "中華人民共和國香港特別行政區"
Flag Emblem
Anthem: March of the Volunteers
《義勇軍進行曲》
A full scene overlooking the skyscrapers of Hong Kong at night, with Victoria Harbour in the background
View at night from Victoria Peak
Hong Kong is situated on a chersonese and series of islands on the south coast of China, to the east of the Pearl River Delta and bordered to the north by Guangdong province
Official languages Chinese, English
Spoken languages Cantonese, English, Mandarin
Writing systems Traditional Chinese, English alphabet
Demonym Hong Konger
Government Quasi-presidential autonomous region with limited suffrage
 -  Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying
 -  Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma
 -  President of the
Legislative Council
Jasper Tsang
Legislature Legislative Council
Establishment
 -  Treaty of Nanking 29 August 1842 
 -  Japanese occupation 25 December 1941 –
15 August 1945 
 -  Handover to China 1 July 1997 
Area
 -  Total 1,104 km2 (179th)
426 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 4.58 (50 km²; 19 mi²)
Population
 -  2010 census 7,061,200
 -  Density 6480/km2 (4th)
16,576/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $326 billion
 -  Per capita $45,736
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $225 billion
 -  Per capita $31,590
Gini (2007) 43.4
medium
HDI (2011) Increase 0.898
very high · 13th
Currency Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Time zone HKT (UTC+8)
Date format yyyy年m月d日 (Chinese)
dd-mm-yyyy (English)
Drives on the left
Calling code +852
Internet TLD .hk and .香港

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Chinese: 香港; Mandarin Pinyin: Xiānggǎng; Jyutping: Hoeng1gong2, literally "Fragrant Port") is one of two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of the People's Republic of China (the other is Macau). It is one of the richest and most highly developed places in China and even the world. Hong Kong grew quickly in the decades after World War II. It is now a famous world class financial center.

The population of Hong Kong is more than seven million. The economy has rapidly grown from a trading port to a very rich city.

Hong Kong is divided into 3 main parts:

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1842 to 1997 because China lost the Second Opium War. After the Handover, Hong Kong became a part of China.

Climate

Hong Kong is in a tropical area, and has monsoon winds. It is cool and wet in winter (Jan-Mar), hot and rainy from spring through summer (Apr-Sep), and warm, sunny and dry in the autumn (Oct-Dec). The rainy season is from May until September. In summer and early autumn, there is a frequent threat of typhoons.

Population and language

The population of Hong Kong reached 7 million in 2009. Most of the people in Hong Kong are Chinese. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has an overall density of 6,300 people per square kilometre.

Hong Kong has one of the world’s lowest birth rates—1.11 per woman of child-bearing age as of 2012. This is far below the rate needed to replace each person, 2.1.

People from Hong Kong mainly speak Cantonese. Many learn English as an additional language. Ever since Hong Kong became a part of China, the number of people who speak Mandarin has increased because Mandarin is the official language of the PRC. Some schools have a different track for each of the three languages, depending on the language the student is most comfortable with, and teach all of the subjects of the school in the language of the track.

Currency

There are coins from 10 cents to 10 Hong Kong dollars; and bank-notes (paper money bills) from $10 to $1000. One American dollar is equal to about $7.75 in Hong Kong dollars, at the official bank exchange rate.

Timeline of Hong Kong

Here is a brief history of Hong Kong:

Rocks at old age
Some very old rocks found in Hong Kong

Around 4000 BC

  • Sea levels rose above 100 meters

Around 3500 BC

  • Ceramic forms decorated with a wide range of patterns

Around 2000 BC

  • Bronze weapons, knives, arrowheads & tools.
  • Metal worked locally

Around 500 BC

  • Ancient Chinese writing developed

221 BC

  • People from Mainland China came to Hong Kong

220

  • Coins of Han period were used in Hong Kong

1555

  • A Portuguese named Jorge Álvares was first to reach Hong Kong

1799

  • China banned drug trade in Hong Kong

1800

  • Sale of opium became a huge success
Opium
Opium flower

1839

  • Lin Zexu was appointed special commissioner
  • First opium war began

1841

January 26th, 1841-

  • British flag was raised at Possession Point on Hong Kong Island

August 1841

  • Sir Henry Pottinger became Hong Kong's first governor
  • Chinese made two governments sign the Treaty of Nanjing, causing the first opium war to come to an end

1860

  • China is once again defeated in the Opium War. Boundary Street and Stonecutter's Island is leased to Britain

1888

  • Peak Tram on Hong Kong Island started operating

1898

  • There is a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and New Territories to the British

1900s

  • Hong Kong was a refuge for exiles from China

1920s-1930s

  • Western dress began to come in fashion for the locals

1933-1934

  • Father Daniel Finn began excavations on Lamma Island

1941

  • Immigrants fled to Hong Kong because they are scared by the Communist party
HKUrbanCouncil
Bauhinia × blakeana was adopted as the floral emblem of Hong Kong by the Urban Council in 1965.
Urban Council of Hong Kong Armorial Bearings
The armorial bearings granted by the College of Arms, appointed by the British Sovereign, a part of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom.
Hong Kong SAR Regional Emblem
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China's emblem after it was given to China since 1997. The Chinese name of Bauhinia × blakeana has also been frequently shortened as 紫荊/紫荆 (洋 yáng means "foreign" in Chinese, and this would be deemed inappropriate by the PRC government), although 紫荊/紫荆 refers to another genus called Cercis. A statue of the plant has been erected in Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. Although the flowers are bright pinkish purple in colour, they are depicted in white on the Flag of Hong Kong.

December 8th, 1941-

  • Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong

December 25, 1941

  • British surrendered the territory to the Japanese Army

August 1945

  • Britain reclaimed its territory after Japan's surrender

1949

  • Double-decker buses were introduced to Hong Kong

1950

  • Hong Kong became a free port

1953

  • Shek Kip Mei Estate established the program of public housing

1955

  • Han Tomb near Lei Cheng Uk was discovered

1983

  • Hong Kong Dollars fixed its currency to the USA

1984

  • Two countries signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration

1990

  • The Hong Kong Basic Law was confirmed

1997

  • Asia's financial crisis
  • Archaeologists discovered 20 graves Ma Wan

July 1st, 1997

  • Hong Kong becomes Special Administrative Region of China for 50 years

1998

  • Hong Kong International Airport replaced Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon

June 2002

  • Tung Chee Wa is elected as Chief Executive

2003

  • Citizens wanted a more democratic and republican system
  • The epidemic of SARS began

March 10th, 2005

  • Tung Chee Wa retired as chief executive because of health problems.

March 2012

  • Leung Chun Ying was elected as Chief Executive.

Sometime in 2014

  • People occupy the Central region to demand universal suffrage for the next chief executive election, to take place in in 2017.

Sometime in 2015

  • The government votes against the universal suffrage demanded by the people.

Sometime in 2016

  • There were more protests in Mong Kok and police had to spray pepper spray on the people to get them to leave.

Architecture

See also: List of tallest buildings in Hong Kong

There are 1,223 skyscrapers in Hong Kong, the most in the world, with more buildings taller than 500 feet (150 m) than any other city. The high density and tall skyline of Hong Kong's urban area is due to a lack of available sprawl space, with the average distance from the harbourfront to the steep hills of Hong Kong Island at 1.3 km (0.81 mi), much of it reclaimed land. This lack of space causes demand for dense, high-rise offices and housing. Thirty-six of the world's 100 tallest residential buildings are in Hong Kong. More people in Hong Kong live or work above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth, making it the world's most vertical city.

As a result of the lack of space and demand for construction, few older buildings remain, and the city is becoming a centre for modern architecture. The International Commerce Centre (ICC), at 484 m (1,588 ft) high, is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the seventh tallest in the world, by height to roof measurement. The previous record holder was Tower 2 of the International Finance Centre, at 415 m (1,362 ft) high. Other recognisable skyline features include the HSBC Headquarters Building, the triangular-topped Central Plaza with its pyramid-shaped spire, The Center with its night-time multi-coloured neon light show, and I. M. Pei's Bank of China Tower with its sharp, angular façade. A Symphony of Lights is shown daily to the public, with the skyline as the backdrop for the show. Hong Kong's skyline is often regarded to be the best in the world, with the surrounding mountains and Victoria Harbour complementing the skyscrapers. Most of the oldest remaining historic structures, including the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, the Central Police Station, and the remains of Kowloon Walled City were constructed during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are many development plans in place, including the construction of new government buildings, waterfront redevelopment in Central, and a series of projects in West Kowloon. More high-rise development is set to take place on the other side of Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, as the 1998 closure of the nearby Kai Tak Airport lifted strict height restrictions. The Urban Renewal Authority is highly active in demolishing older areas, including the razing and redevelopment of Kwun Tong town centre, an approach which has been criticised for its impact on the cultural identity of the city and on lower-income residents.

Cityscape

City view of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island and the Hong Kong skyline.
Night time city skyline with Victoria Harbour in front and low hills behind
A panoramic view of the Hong Kong Island skyline at night, taken from Tsim Sha Tsui.
View from the highest mountain of Kowloon overlooking Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

Economy

Hong Kong is an important centre for international finance and trade, with one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region.

Hong Kong is the world's seventh largest trading entity in both exports and imports, with the total value of traded goods exceeding its gross domestic product. It is also the world's largest transshipment centre; much of its exports consist of re-exports, products manufactured outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Its physical location has allowed the city to establish a transportation and logistics infrastructure that includes the world's second busiest container port and the world's busiest airport for international cargo. The territory's largest export markets are mainland China and the United States.

Kwai Tsing Container Terminals
The Port of Hong Kong is one of the busiest container ports in the world.

The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it imports most of its food and raw materials. Imports account for more than 90 per cent of Hong Kong's food supply, including nearly all of the meat and rice available there. Agricultural activity, relatively unimportant to Hong Kong's economy and contributing just 0.1% of GDP, primarily consists of growing premium food and flower varieties.

While the territory boasted one of the largest manufacturing economies in Asia during the latter half of the colonial era as the city industrialised, Hong Kong's economy is now dominated by the services sector. As one of the Four Asian Tigers, Hong Kong rapidly industrialised as a manufacturing centre driven by exports through the post-war decades of the 20th century, turning the territory into a developed high-income area by the end of the colonial era. Between 1961 and 1997, Hong Kong's gross domestic product multiplied by a factor of 180, while per-capita GDP increased 87 times over.

Hong Kong Exchange Trade Lobby 2007
Trading floor of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Tourism forms a major part of the territorial economy, accounting for 5% of GDP; 26.6 million visitors contributed US$32.9 billion in international tourism receipts in 2016, making Hong Kong the 14th most popular destination for international tourists. It is also the most popular city for tourists, receiving over 70 per cent more visitors than its closest competitor, Macau. The city is further consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities for expatriates.

Transport

Clockwise from top left: MTR train on the Tung Chung Line; Celestial Star, the oldest Star Ferry vessel in service; Double-decker KMB bus; Interior of Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport.

Hong Kong has a highly developed and sophisticated transport network, encompassing both public and private modes of travel. Regulation and administrative policy is handled by the Transport Department. Over 90% of daily journeys are made on public transport, the highest such percentage in the world. The Octopus card, a contactless smart payment card, is widely accepted on railways, buses, and ferries, and can be used for payment in most retail stores. Launched in 1997 on the Mass Transit Railway, it was the second contactless smart card system in the world and is a ubiquitous form of payment throughout the territory.

Rail

The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is an extensive passenger railway network, connecting 93 metro stations throughout the territory. With a daily ridership of over five million, the system serves 41% of all public transit passengers in the city. Service is extremely punctual, achieving an on-time rate of 99.9%. The rapid transit network operates within inner urban Hong Kong and extends to New Kowloon, Lantau Island, and the northeastern and northwestern parts of the New Territories. Nine railway lines provide general metro services, while the Airport Express provides a direct link from Hong Kong International Airport to the city centre and a dedicated line transports passengers to and from Hong Kong Disneyland.

Cross-boundary train service to Shenzhen is offered by the East Rail Line, terminating at immigration checkpoints at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau. Inter-city trains to Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing are operated from Hung Hom Station. Connecting service to the national high-speed rail system is scheduled to begin in 2018, after construction of West Kowloon Station completes.

Roads and taxis

Cross Harbour Tunnel (1)
Entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, Kowloon.
Kowloon Waterfront, Hong Kong, 2013-08-09, DD 05
Red taxis outside the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon.

Road traffic in the territory drives on the left, unlike that of mainland China, due to historical influence from the British Empire. Highways are organised as the Hong Kong Strategic Route and Exit Number System, a system of major roads comprising three north-south routes, five east-west routes, and the New Territories Circular Road. All major geographic areas of the territory are connected over this road system; Route 8 runs along the Tsing Ma Bridge to connect the city centre with Tsing Yi and Lantau Island, and Routes 1, 2, and 3 pass through the three tunnels under Victoria Harbour to connect Hong Kong Island with the Kowloon Peninsula. Route 10 provides direct road access to Shenzhen, terminating at the Shenzhen Bay Port. The territory is connected to the national expressway system at Lok Ma Chau; the G4 Beijing–Hong Kong–Macau Expressway ends at the Huanggang Port and is connected to Route 9 by a short spur road beginning at immediately at the territorial border. When completed, the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge will provide an additional connection to the mainland road system and create a direct route to the western side of the Pearl River estuary.

While public transport systems handle the majority of passenger traffic, there are over 500,000 private vehicles licensed in Hong Kong. Because of the territory's small size, residents are discouraged from private car ownership; cars are subjected to a first-time registration tax, which varies from 35% to over 100% depending on the size and value of the car, and over half the cost of petrol sold at filling stations is due to taxes. Road traffic is extremely congested during peak hours, with average vehicle speeds reaching as a low as 10 km/h (6.2 mph) on major roads. Congestion is exacerbated by the urban layout of the city, the physical constraints to expanding road transport infrastructure, and a growing number of vehicles.

More than 18,000 taxicabs, easily identifiable by their bright paint, are licensed to carry riders in the territory. Colour codes signify service areas. Red taxis serve Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, all of the New Territories, and the northern part of Lantau Island; green taxis operate in portions of the New Territories and specific stations outside of their assigned area; blue taxis are available only on Lantau Island.

Aviation

Cathay Pacific, Airbus A350-941, B-LRN (35200274191)
A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is the primary airport for the territory. Over 100 airlines operate flights from the airport; it is the main hub of flag carrier Cathay Pacific as well as Cathay Dragon, Air Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Airlines. HKG is an important regional transhipment centre, passenger hub, and gateway for destinations in mainland China and the rest of Asia. It also handles the most air cargo traffic in the world. With over 70 million passengers annually, it is the eighth busiest airport worldwide by passenger traffic. HKG is constructed on an artificial island north of Lantau Island and was built to replace the overcrowded Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon Bay. The majority of area private aviation traffic, under the supervision of the Hong Kong Aviation Club, goes in and out of Shek Kong Airfield in the New Territories.

Ferries

The Star Ferry, in service since 1888, operates two lines across Victoria Harbour, providing scenic views of Hong Kong's skyline for its 53,000 daily passengers. Ferries also serve outlying islands of the territory inaccessible by other means and. Operators include New World First Ferry, Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry, and Tsui Wah Ferry. They also operate routes to Macau and nearby cities in mainland China, including direct service between Hong Kong International Airport and Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport for transiting passengers. Cross-boundary services operate out of the Macau Ferry Terminal, China Ferry Terminal, and Tuen Mun Ferry Pier.

Hong Kong is famous for its junk ships that traverse the harbour, and small kai-to ferries that serve remote coastal settlements.

Buses and trams

Hong Kong Tram in Johnston Road 2015
A double-decker Hong Kong Tramways street car on Johnston Road.

Public bus services are franchised and run by five private companies, together operating more than 700 routes across the territory. The largest are Kowloon Motor Bus, providing 402 routes in Kowloon and New Territories; Citybus, operating 154 routes on Hong Kong Island; and New World First Bus, running an additional 56 routes in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. All three major bus operators provide cross-harbour services, serving as a major transport link for the 3.9 million daily bus passengers. Double-decker buses were introduced to Hong Kong in 1949, and are now much more commonly found than single-decker buses, which remain in use for routes with lower demand or roads with lower load capacity. The smaller public light buses (also called minibuses) serve most parts of Hong Kong, particularly areas where standard bus lines cannot reach or do not reach as frequently, quickly, or directly.

Hong Kong Island's steep, hilly terrain was initially served by sedan chairs. The Peak Tram, the first public transport system in Hong Kong, has provided vertical rail transport between Central and Victoria Peak since 1888. In the Central and Western District, there is an extensive system of escalators and moving pavements, including the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, the Mid-Levels escalator. Hong Kong Tramways, which has served the territory since 1904, covers the northern parts of Hong Kong Island. The MTR operates the Light Rail system serving the districts of Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.

Culture

Hong kong bruce lee statue
A statue of Bruce Lee on the Avenue of Stars, a tribute to the city's martial arts.

Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where "East meets West", reflecting the cultural mix of the territory's Chinese roots with Western influence from its time as a British colony. Though the vast majority of the population is ethnically Chinese, the long period of colonial administration and sustained exposure to Western culture has resulted in a distinct cultural identity from that of mainland China. Mainstream culture in Hong Kong is an Eastern culture largely derived from immigrants originating from various parts of China, but influenced by British-style education, a separate political system, and the territory's status as a major port of trade.

Chinese immigrants after the Second World War fueled Hong Kong's economic growth in the post-war decades, creating the perception that residents enjoy high social mobility and a culture characterised by individual entrepreneurialism and a strong work ethic among those who arrived. As most incoming migrants from the mainland were fleeing economic hardship, people in Hong Kong today tend to tie self-image and decision-making to material benefits quite closely.

Concepts like feng shui are taken very seriously, with expensive construction projects often hiring expert consultants, and are often believed to make or break a business. Other objects like Ba gua mirrors are still regularly used to deflect evil spirits, and buildings often lack any floor number that has a 4 in it, due to its similarity to the word for "die" in Cantonese. The fusion of east and west also characterises Hong Kong's cuisine, where dim sum, hot pot, and fast food restaurants coexist with haute cuisine.

Hong Kong is a recognized global centre of trade and calls itself an "entertainment hub". Its martial arts film genre gained a high level of popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Images


Hong Kong for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.