Hong Kong, China: Wikis


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Coordinates: 22°16′42″N 114°9′32″E / 22.27833°N 114.15889°E / 22.27833; 114.15889

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China[1]
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
A panorama 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 peninsula and series of islands on the south coast of China, to the east of the Pearl River Delta and bordered to the north by Guangzhou province
Official language(s) Chinese, English[2]
Spoken languages
Demonym Hongkonger
Government Non-sovereign partial democracy with unelected executive
 -  Chief Executive Donald Tsang
 -  Chief Justice Andrew Li
 -  President of the
Legislative Council
Jasper Tsang
Legislature Legislative Council
 -  Transfer of sovereignty to Britain (Treaty of Nanking) 29 August 1842 
 -  Japanese occupation 25 December 1941 –
15 August 1945 
 -  Transfer of sovereignty to the PRC 1 July 1997 
 -  Total 1,104 km2 (179th)
426 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 4.5
 -  2009 estimate 7,055,071[3] (98th)
 -  2001 census 6,708,389 
 -  Density 6076.4/km2 (4th)
15,737.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $293.311 billion[4] (38th)
 -  Per capita $44,413[4] (10th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total US$223.764 billion[4] (37th)
 -  Per capita US$31,849[4] (27th)
Gini (2007) 43.4[5] 
HDI (2007) 0.944[6] ( very high) (24th)
Currency Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Time zone HKT (UTC+8)
Date formats yyyy年m月d日 (Chinese)
dd/mm/yyyy (English)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .hk
Calling code +852

Hong Kong[7] (Chinese: 香港) is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China; the other is Macau. Situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea,[8] it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour. With land mass of 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) and a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.[9] Hong Kong's population is 95% ethnic Chinese and 5% from other groups.[10]

Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong runs on economic and political systems different from those of mainland China.[11] Hong Kong is one of the world's leading international financial centres, with a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation, free trade and minimum government intervention under the ethos of positive non-interventionism.[12] The Hong Kong dollar is the 9th most traded currency in the world.[13]

Hong Kong's independent judiciary functions under the common law framework.[14] Its political system is governed by the Basic Law of Hong Kong, its constitutional document. It has a burgeoning multi-party system, and its legislature is partly elected through universal suffrage. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong is the head of government.[15]

Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839–1842). Originally confined to Hong Kong Island, the colony's boundaries were extended in stages so as to include the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories by 1898. It was occupied by the Japanese during the Pacific War, after which the British resumed control until 1997, when China regained sovereignty.[16][17] The Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong shall enjoy a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign relations and military defence.[18]



The characters "香港"

The name "Hong Kong" is an approximate phonetic rendering of the Cantonese pronunciation of the spoken Cantonese or Hakka name "香港", meaning "fragrant harbour" in English.[19]

Before 1842, the name Hong Kong originally referred to a small inlet (now Aberdeen Harbour/Little Hong Kong) between the island of Ap Lei Chau and the south side of Hong Kong Island. The inlet was one of the first points of contact between British sailors and local fishermen.[20]

The reference to fragrance may refer to the harbour waters sweetened by the fresh water estuarine influx of the Pearl River, or to the incense factories lining the coast to the north of Kowloon which was stored around Aberdeen Harbour for export, before the development of Victoria Harbour.[19] In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed, and the name Hong Kong was first recorded on official documents to encompass the entirety of the island.[21]


Hong Kong began as a coastal island geographically located in southern China. While small settlements had taken place in the Hong Kong region, with archaeological findings dating back thousands of years, regularly written records were not made until the engagement of Imperial China and the British colony in the territory. Starting out as a fishing village, salt production site and trading ground,[22] it would evolve into a military port of strategic importance and eventually an international financial centre that enjoys the world's 6th highest GDP (PPP) per capita, supporting 33% of the foreign capital flows into China.[23]


Pre-20th century

ancient sepia image of elevated view of a city and its harbour
Hong Kong in the late nineteenth century was a major trading post of the British Empire.

Human settlement in the area now known as Hong Kong dates back to the late Paleolithic and early Neolithic era,[24] but the name Hong Kong (香港) did not appear on written record until the Treaty of Nanking of 1842.[25]

Hong Kong, a little fishing village where Chinese emperors would send their punished officials, was first inhabited by the Hakka people. The four big clans were the Liu, Man, Pang, and Tang. Each clan, and its numerous branches, took up residence in what is today considered the New Territories. With scant natural resources and hilly terrain, the indigenous peasants and fishermen survived on the island's few and precious assets until European visitors set foot on the territory and changed its history.

The area's earliest recorded European visitor was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese explorer who arrived in 1513.[26][27] In 1839 the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain. Hong Kong Island became occupied by British forces in 1841, and was formally ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking at the end of the war. The British established a crown colony with the founding of Victoria City the following year. In 1860, after China's defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutter's Island were ceded to Britain under the Convention of Peking. In 1898, under the terms of the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.[28] Hong Kong's territory has remained unchanged to the present.

20th century onwards

During the first half of the 20th century, Hong Kong was a free port, serving as an entrepôt of the British Empire. The British introduced an education system based on their own model, while the local Chinese population had little contact with the European community of wealthy tai-pans settled near Victoria Peak.[28]

In conjunction with its military campaign in the Second World War, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on 25 December. During the Japanese occupation, civilians suffered widespread food shortages, rationing, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. Hong Kong lost more than half of its population in the period between the invasion and Japan's surrender in 1945, when the United Kingdom resumed control of the colony.[29]

Hong Kong's population recovered quickly as a wave of migrants from China arrived for refuge from the ongoing Chinese Civil War. When the People's Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, more migrants fled to Hong Kong in fear of persecution by the Communist Party.[28] Many corporations in Shanghai and Guangzhou also shifted their operations to Hong Kong.[28]

As textile and manufacturing industries grew with the help of population growth and low cost of labour, Hong Kong rapidly industrialised, with its economy becoming driven by exports, and living standards rising steadily.[30] The construction of Shek Kip Mei Estate in 1953 marked the beginning of the public housing estate programme, designed to cope with the huge influx of immigrants. Trade in Hong Kong accelerated even further when Shenzhen, immediately north of Hong Kong, became a special economic zone of the PRC, and established Hong Kong as the main source of foreign investment to China.[31] With the development of the manufacturing industry in southern China beginning in the early 1980s, Hong Kong's competitiveness in manufacturing declined and its economy began shifting toward a reliance on the service industry, which enjoyed high rates of growth in the 1980s and 1990s, and absorbed workers released from the manufacturing industry.[32]

In 1983, Hong Kong was reclassified from a British crown colony to a dependent territory. However with the lease of the New Territories due to expire within two decades, the governments of Britain and China were already discussing the issue of Hong Kong's sovereignty. In 1984 the two countries signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing to transfer sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997,[28] and stipulating that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and a high degree of autonomy for at least fifty years after the transfer. The Hong Kong Basic Law, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990, and the transfer of sovereignty occurred at midnight on 1 July 1997, marked by a handover ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.[28]

Hong Kong's economy was affected by the Asian financial crisis, and the H5N1 avian influenza, both in 1997. After a gradual recovery, Hong Kong suffered again due to an outbreak of SARS in 2003.[33] Today, Hong Kong continues to serve as an important global financial centre, but faces uncertainty over its future role with a growing mainland China economy, and its relationship with the PRC government in areas such as democratic reform and universal suffrage.[34]



Government House rightview.jpg
Top: The Legislative Council of Hong Kong.
Bottom: Government House, the official residence of the Chief Executive.

In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and reflecting the policy known as "one country, two systems", Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region in all areas except defence and foreign affairs.[35] The declaration stipulates that the region maintain its capitalist economic system and guarantees the rights and freedoms of its people for at least 50 years beyond the 1997 handover.[36] The Basic Law is the constitutional document that outlines the executive, legislative and judicial authorities of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, although final authority for interpreting the Basic Law rests with the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[37]

The primary institutions of government are:

The implementation of the Basic Law and universal suffrage have been major issues of political debate since the transfer of sovereignty. In 2002, the government's proposed anti-subversion bill pursuant to Article 23 of the Basic Law, which required the enactment of laws prohibiting acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government, was met with fierce opposition, and eventually shelved.[18][42][43] Debate between pro-Beijing groups and Pan-democracy camp characterises Hong Kong's political scene, with the latter supporting a faster pace of democratisation.[44]

Legal system and judiciary

In contrast to mainland China's civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established during British rule. Her legal system is completely independent from the legal system of China.[45] Hong Kong's courts are permitted to refer to decisions rendered by courts of other common law jurisdictions as precedents,[14] and judges from other common law jurisdictions are allowed to sit as non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal.[14]

Structurally, Hong Kong's court system consists of the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court, which is made up of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance, and the District Court, which includes the Family Court.[41] Other adjudicative bodies include the Lands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts, the Juvenile Court, the Coroner's Court, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal, and the Obscene Articles Tribunal.[41] Justices of the Court of Final Appeal are appointed by Hong Kong's Chief Executive.[14]

The Department of Justice is the government department responsible for handling legal matters, and its responsibilities involve providing legal advice to the government, criminal prosecution, civil representation, legal and policy drafting and reform, and international legal cooperation between different jurisdictions.[45] Apart from prosecuting criminal cases, lawyers of the Department of Justice also appear in court on behalf of the government in all civil and administrative lawsuits against the government.[45] As protector of the public interest, it may apply for judicial reviews and may intervene in any cases involving greater public interest.[46] The Basic Law, which serves as the constitutional document of the Hong Kong SAR, protects the Department of Justice from any interference by the government when exercising its control over criminal prosecution.[47]

Administrative districts

New Territories Islands Kwai Tsing North Sai Kung Sha Tin Tai Po Tsuen Wan Tuen Mun Yuen Long Kowloon Kowloon City Kwun Tong Sham Shui Po Wong Tai Sin Yau Tsim Mong Hong Kong Island Central and Western Eastern Southern Wan Chai Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Islands Kwai Tsing North Sai Kung Sai Kung Sai Kung Sai Kung Sai Kung Sai Kung Sai Kung Sha Tin Tai Po Tai Po Tai Po Tai Po Tai Po Tai Po Tsuen Wan Tsuen Wan Tsuen Wan Tuen Mun Tuen Mun Tuen Mun Tuen Mun Yuen Long Kowloon City Kwun Tong Sham Shui Po Wong Tai Sin Yau Tsim Mong Central and Western Eastern Southern Southern Wan Chai The main territory of Hong Kong consists of a peninsula bordered to the north by Guangdong province, an island to the south east of the peninsula, and a smaller island to the south. These areas are surrounded by numerous much smaller islands.

Hong Kong has a unitary system of government, no local government exists since the two municipal councils were abolished in 2000. As such there is no formal definition for its cities and towns. Administratively, Hong Kong is subdivided into 18 geographic districts, each represented by a district council whose role is to advise the government on local matters such as public facilities, community programmes, cultural activities and environmental improvements.[50]

There are a total of 534 district councils seats, 405 of which are elected, while the rest are appointed by the Chief Executive and 27 ex officio chairmen of rural committees.[50] The government's Home Affairs Department communicates government policies and plans to the public through the district offices.[51]


As a British Colony and later territory, defence was provided by the British military under the command of the Governor of Hong Kong who was ex officio Commander-in-chief.[52] When the People's Republic of China assumed sovereignty in 1997, the British barracks were replaced by a garrison of the People's Liberation Army, comprising ground, naval, and air forces, and under the command of the Chinese Central Military Commission.[17]

The Basic Law protects local civil affairs against interference by the garrison, and members of the garrison are made subject to Hong Kong laws. The Hong Kong Government remains responsible for the maintenance of public order; however, it may request the PRC government for help from the garrison in maintaining public order and in disaster relief. The PRC government is responsible for the costs of maintaining the garrison.[18]

Geography and climate

natural slopes with conurbation in the distance
The hilly terrain of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
Topographical satellite image with enhanced colours showing areas of vegetation and conurbation. Purple areas around the coasts indicate the areas of urban development.
Areas of urban development and vegetation are visible in this false-colour satellite image.

Hong Kong is located on China's south coast, 60 km (37 mi) east of Macau on the opposite side of the Pearl River Delta. It is surrounded by the South China Sea on the east, south, and west, and borders the Guangdong city of Shenzhen to the north over the Shenzhen River. The territory's 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) area consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore islands, of which the largest is Lantau Island. Of the total area, 1,054 km2 (407 sq mi) is land and 50 km2 (19 sq mi) is inland water. In addition Hong Kong claims territorial waters to a distance of 3 nautical miles (5.6 km). The land area makes Hong Kong the 179th largest habited territory in the world.[3][8]

As much of Hong Kong's terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, less than 25% of the territory's landmass is developed, and about 40% of the remaining land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves.[53] Most of the territory's urban development exists on Kowloon peninsula, along the northern edge of Hong Kong Island and in scattered settlements throughout the New Territories.[54] The highest elevation in the territory is at Tai Mo Shan, at a height of 957 metres (3,140 ft) above sea level.[55] Hong Kong's long, irregular and curvaceous coast line provides it with many bays, rivers and beaches.[56]

Despite Hong Kong's reputation of being intensely urbanised, the territory has made much effort to promote a green environment,[57] and recent growing public concern has prompted the severe restriction of further land reclamation from Victoria Harbour. Awareness of the environment is growing as Hong Kong suffers from increasing pollution compounded by its geography and tall buildings. Approximately 80% of the city's smog originates from other parts of the Pearl River Delta.[58]

Situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong's climate is humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cwa). Summer is hot and humid with occasional showers and thunderstorms, and warm air coming from the southwest. It is also the time when typhoons are most likely, sometimes resulting in flooding or landslides. Winter weather usually starts sunny and becomes cloudier towards February, with the occasional cold front bringing strong, cooling winds from the north. The most pleasant seasons are spring, although changeable, and autumn, which is generally sunny and dry.[59] Hong Kong averages 1,948 hours of sunshine per year,[60] while the highest and lowest ever recorded temperatures at the Hong Kong Observatory are 36.1 °C (96.98 °F) and 0.0 °C (32.00 °F), respectively.[61]

panorama: looking down on a city of skyscrapers, land mass in the distance separated by a body of water
A view from Hong Kong Island, looking north over Central district, the harbour and Kowloon
Climate data for Hong Kong
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 18.6
Average low °C (°F) 14.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 24.9
Sunshine hours 141.7 93.8 89.6 101.8 138.6 158.3 214.9 189.7 171.8 191.1 178.2 173.3 1,842.9
% Humidity 73 78 82 83 84 82 81 82 79 74 70 69 78
Avg. rainy days 5.6 9.5 10.5 11.7 15.5 18.8 17.8 17.4 14.8 8.1 5.7 4.3 139.7
Source: Hong Kong Observatory[62] 2008


Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial centers.[63] Its highly developed capitalist economy has been ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years.[64][65][66] It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with one of the greatest concentration of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, and is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers for its high growth rates and rapid development between the 1960s and 1990s. In addition, Hong Kong's gross domestic product, between 1961 and 1997, has grown 180 times larger than the former while per capita GDP rose by 87 times.[67][68]

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of US$2.97 trillion as at October 2007. In 2009, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of worldwide IPO capital, making it the largest centre of initial public offerings in the world.[69] Hong Kong's currency is the Hong Kong dollar, which has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since 1983.[70]

The Government of Hong Kong plays a passive role in the financial industry, mostly leaving the direction of the economy to market forces and the private sector. Under the official policy of "positive non-interventionism", Hong Kong is often cited as an example of laissez-faire capitalism. Following the Second World War, Hong Kong industrialised rapidly as a manufacturing centre driven by exports, and then underwent a rapid transition to a service-based economy in the 1980s.[71]

Hong Kong matured to become a financial centre in the 1990s, but was greatly affected by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, and again in 2003 by the SARS outbreak. A revival of external and domestic demand has led to a strong recovery, as cost decreases strengthened the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports and a long deflationary period ended.[72][73]

The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it imports most of its food and raw materials. Hong Kong is the world's eleventh largest trading entity,[74] with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. Hong Kong is the world's largest re-export centre.[75] Much of Hong Kong's exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Even before the transfer of sovereignty, Hong Kong had established extensive trade and investment ties with the mainland, and now enables it to serve as a point of entry for investment flowing into the mainland. At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million people employed full-time, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1%, the fourth straight year of decline.[76] Hong Kong's economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP, while industry now constitutes just 9%. Inflation was at 2% in 2007, and Hong Kong's largest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.[3][77]

As of 2009, Hong Kong is the fifth most expensive city for expatriates, behind Tokyo, Osaka, Moscow, and Geneva. In 2008, Hong Kong was ranked sixth, and in 2007, it was ranked fifth.[78] In 2009, Hong Kong was ranked third in the Ease of Doing Business Index.[79]


busy street scene at night, with lit advertising panels
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, at 6,200 people per km².
large bronze statue of Buddha with right hand raised
The Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island

The territory's population is 7.03 million. In 2009, Hong Kong had a low birth rate of 11.7 per 1,000 population and a fertility rate of 1,032 children per 1,000 women.[80] However, the population in Hong Kong continues to grow due to the influx of immigrants from mainland China, approximating 45,000 per year – there exists a daily quota of 150 people from Mainland China with family ties in Hong Kong are granted a 'one way permit'.[81] Life expectancy in Hong Kong is 79.8 years for males and 86.1 years for females, as of 2009, among the highest in the world. About 95% of the people of Hong Kong are of Chinese descent,[82] the majority of whom are Cantonese, Hakka and Chiu Chow. The remaining 5% of the population is composed of non-ethnic Chinese forming a highly visible group despite their smaller numbers.[82] In addition, there are in excess of 300,000 foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines, according to official figures.[83]

There is a South Asian population of Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese. Some Vietnamese refugees have become permanent residents of Hong Kong. There are also a number of Europeans (mostly British), Americans, Australians, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans working in the city's commercial and financial sector.[84] Residents from mainland China do not have the right of abode in Hong Kong, nor are they allowed to enter the territory freely.[42]

Hong Kong's de facto official language is Cantonese, a Chinese language originating from Guangdong Province to the north of Hong Kong.[85] English is also an official language, and according to a 1996 by-census is spoken by 3.1% of the population as an everyday language and by 34.9% of the population as a second language.[86] Signs displaying both Chinese and English are common throughout the territory. Since the 1997 handover, an increase in immigrants from mainland China and greater integration with the mainland economy have brought an increasing number of Mandarin speakers to Hong Kong.[87]

Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of freedom, guaranteed by the Basic Law. 90% of Hong Kong's population practises a mix of local religions,[3] most prominently Buddhism (mainly Chinese Mahayana), Confucianism, and Taoism.[88][89][90] A Christian community of around 600,000 exists,[91][92] forming about 8% of the total population, and is nearly equally divided between Catholics and Protestants, although other, smaller 'Christian' communities exist including the Latter-Day Saints[93] and Jehovah's Witnesses.[94] There are also Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Bahá'í communities.[91] Religious freedom after the 1997 handover is guaranteed under the Basic Law. The practice of Falun Gong is tolerated; the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches each freely appointing its own bishops, unlike in mainland China.[95]


3-storey red brick building with gabled roof adjacent to 7-storey modern building with flat roof
A view over the University of Hong Kong
A complex of white medium-rise buildings on a lush hillside, with a body of water in the foreground
HKUST Campus as seen from Port Shelter

Hong Kong's education system roughly follows the system in England,[96] although international systems exist. The government maintains a policy in which the medium of instruction is Cantonese (母語教學),[97] with written Chinese and English. In secondary schools, 'biliterate and trilingual' proficiency is emphasised, and Mandarin language education has been increasing.[98] The Programme for International Student Assessment ranked Hong Kong's education system as the second best in the world.[99]

Hong Kong's public schools are operated by the Education Bureau. The system features a non-compulsory three-year kindergarten, followed by a compulsory six-year primary education, a three-year junior secondary education, a non-compulsory two-year senior secondary education leading to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations and a two-year matriculation course leading to the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations.[100]

However, starting with Form 1 students of 2006, all students receive 3 years of compulsory junior and 3 years compulsory senior secondary education. Most comprehensive schools in Hong Kong fall under three categories: the rarer public schools; the more common subsidised schools, including government aids and grant schools; and private schools, often run by Christian organisations and having admissions based on academic merit rather than on financial resources. Outside this system are the schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme and private international schools.

There are nine public universities in Hong Kong, and a number of private higher institutions, offering various bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, other higher diplomas and associate degree courses. The University of Hong Kong, the oldest institution of tertiary education in the territory, was referred by Quacquarelli Symonds as a "world-class comprehensive research university"[101] and was ranked 24th on the 2009 THES - QS World University Rankings,[102] making it 1st in Asia.[103] The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology and Chinese University of Hong Kong are ranked 35 and 46, respectively, making them rank 4th and 2nd, respectively, in Asia.[103]


A bronze statue on a pedestal, with the city skyline in the background. The pedestal is designed in the image of four clapperboards forming a box. The statue is of a woman wrapped in photographic film, looking straight up, with her left hand stretched upwards and holding a glass sphere containing a light.
A statue on the Avenue of Stars, a tribute to Hong Kong cinema

Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where "East meets West", reflecting the culture's mix of the territory's Chinese roots with the culture brought to it during its time as a British colony.[104] One of the more noticeable contradictions is Hong Kong's balancing of a modernised way of life with traditional Chinese practices. 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.[105] 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.[106]

Hong Kong is a recognised global centre of trade, and calls itself an 'entertainment hub'.[107] Its martial arts film genre gained a high level of popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s. Several Hollywood performers and martial artists have originated from Hong Kong cinema, notably Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, and Yuen Woo-ping. A number of Hong Kong film-makers have also achieved widespread fame in Hollywood, such as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai and Stephen Chow.[107] Homegrown films such as Chungking Express, Infernal Affairs, Shaolin Soccer, Rumble in the Bronx, and In the Mood for Love have gained international recognition. Hong Kong is the centre for Cantopop music, which draws its influence from other forms of Chinese music and Western genres, and has a multinational fanbase.[108]

The Hong Kong government supports cultural institutions such as the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, the government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department subsidises and sponsors international performers brought to Hong Kong. Many international cultural activities are organised by the government, consulates, and privately.

Hong Kong has two licensed terrestrial broadcastersATV and TVB. There are three local and a number of foreign suppliers of cable and satellite services.[109] The production of Hong Kong's soap dramas, comedy series and variety shows reach audiences throughout the Chinese-speaking world. Magazine and newspaper publishers in Hong Kong distribute and print in both Chinese and English, with a focus on sensationalism and celebrity gossip. The media is relatively free from official interference compared to mainland China, although the Far Eastern Economic Review points to signs of self-censorship by journals whose owners have close ties to or business interests in the PRC, but state that even Western media outlets are not immune to growing Chinese economic power.[110]

Hong Kong offers wide recreational and competitive sport opportunities despite its limited land area. It sends delegates to international competition, namely the Olympic Games and Asian Games, and played host to the equestrian events during the 2008 Summer Olympics.[111] There are major multipurpose venues like Hong Kong Coliseum and MacPherson Stadium. Hong Kong's steep terrain makes it ideal for hiking, with expansive views over the territory, and its rugged coastline provides many beaches for swimming.[112]


According to Emporis, there are 7,650 skyscrapers in Hong Kong, putting the city at the top of world rankings.[113] 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 harbour front to the steep hills of Hong Kong Island at 1.3 km (0.8 mi),[114] much of it reclaimed land. This lack of space causing demand for dense, high-rise offices and housing, has resulted in 36 of the world's 100 tallest residential buildings being in Hong Kong,[115] and more people living or working above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth, making it the world's most vertical city.[116]

As a result of the lack of space and demand for construction, few older buildings remain, and the city is instead 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 also the third tallest in the world.[117] The tallest building prior to the ICC is Two International Finance Centre, at 415 m (1,362 ft) high.[118] Other recognisable skyline features include the HSBC Headquarters Building, the triangular 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. According to the Emporis website, the city skyline has the biggest visual impact of all world cities.[119] Notable remaining historical assets include the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, the Central Police Station, and the remains of Kowloon Walled City.

There are many development plans in place, including the construction of new government buildings,[120] waterfront redevelopment in Central,[121] and a series of projects in West Kowloon.[122] 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.[123]

daytime skyline of a city, with a large body of water in front
A panoramic view of northern Hong Kong Island between North Point in the east (left) and Kennedy Town in the west (right)


yellow double-decker tram
Hong Kong's tram system is the only one in the world that runs exclusively with double-deckers.
double-decker ferry boat in harbour with tall buildings in background
The iconic Star Ferry on one of its nine-minute voyages across Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong has a highly developed transportation network. Over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport,[124] making it the highest percentage in the world.[125] Payment can be made using the Octopus card, a stored value system introduced by the MTR, which is now widely accepted on railways, buses and ferries, and well as accepted for cash at other outlets.[126]

The city's rapid transit system, MTR, has 150 stations, which serve 3.4 million people a day.[127] Hong Kong Tramways, which has served the territory since 1904, covers the northern parts of Hong Kong Island and is the only tram system in the world run exclusively with double deckers.[128] Double-decker buses were introduced to Hong Kong in 1949, and are now almost exclusively used; single-decker buses remain in use for routes with lower demand or roads with lower load capacity. Most normal franchised bus routes in Hong Kong operate until 1 a.m. Public light buses serve most parts of Hong Kong, particularly areas where standard bus lines cannot reach or do not reach as frequently, quickly or directly.

The Star Ferry service, founded in 1888, operates four lines across Victoria Harbour and provides scenic views of Hong Kong's skyline for its 53,000 daily passengers.[129] It acquired iconic status following its use as a setting on The World of Suzie Wong. Travel writer Ryan Levitt considered the main Tsim Sha Tsui to Central crossing one of the most picturesque in the world.[130] Other ferry services are provided by operators serving outlying islands, new towns, Macau and cities in mainland China. Hong Kong is also famous for its junks traversing the harbour, and small kai-to ferries which serve remote coastal settlements.

Hong Kong Island's steep, hilly terrain calls for some unusual ways of getting up and down the slopes. It was initially served by sedan chair, steeply ascending the side of a mountain.[131] The Peak Tram, the first public transport system in Hong Kong, has provided vertical rail transport between Central and Victoria Peak since 1888.[132] In 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.[133]

Hong Kong International Airport is a leading air passenger gateway and logistics hub in Asia and one of the world's busiest airports in terms of international passenger and cargo movement, serving more than 47 million passengers and handling 3.74 million tonnes of cargo in 2007.[134] It replaced the overcrowded Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon in 1998, and has been rated as the world's best airport in a number of surveys.[135] Over 85 airlines operate at the two-terminal airport and it is the primary hub of Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Air Hong Kong, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ This is the official convention employed on the Chinese text of the Hong Kong regional emblem, the text of the Hong Kong Basic Law, and the Government of Hong Kong Website, although "Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" and "Hong Kong" is also accepted.
  2. ^ The Basic Law of Hong Kong states that the official languages are "Chinese and English". [1] It does not explicitly specify the standard for "Chinese". While Standard Mandarin and Simplified Chinese characters are used as the spoken and written standards in mainland China, Cantonese and Traditional Chinese characters are the long-established de facto standards in Hong Kong. See also: Bilingualism in Hong Kong
  3. ^ a b c d "Hong Kong". The World Factbook. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/hk.html. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Hong Kong". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2004&ey=2008&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=532&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=40&pr.y=4. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "Human Development Report 2009 – Gini Index". United Nations Development Programme. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/indicators/161.html. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "Hong Kong, China (SAR)". United Nations Development Programme. http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_HKG.html. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  7. ^ The name was often written as Hongkong until the government adopted the current form in 1926 (Hongkong Government Gazette, Notification 479, 3 September 1926). Nevertheless, some century-old organisations still use the name, such as the Hongkong Post, Hongkong Electric and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. While the names of most cities in the People's Republic of China are romanised into English using Pinyin, the official English name is Hong Kong rather than the pinyin Xianggang.
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  11. ^ So, Alvin Y. Lin, Nan. Poston, Dudley L. Contributor Professor, So, Alvin Y. [2001] (2001). The Chinese Triangle of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0313308691.
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  16. ^ Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong, 19 December 1984, http://www.cmab.gov.hk/en/issues/jd2.htm, ""The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that to recover the Hong Kong area (including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, hereinafter referred to as Hong Kong) is the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people, and that it has decided to resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong with effect from 1 July 1997."" 
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Further reading

  • Fu, Poshek and David Deser. The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity. Poshek Fu, David Deser. Cambridge University Press. 2002. 346 pages. ISBN 0-521-77602-3.
  • Ngo, Tak-Wing. Hong Kong's History: State and Society Under Colonial Rule (Asia's Transformations). . Routledge. 1 August 1999. 205 pages. ISBN 0-415-20868-8.
  • Shuyong, Liu. An Outline History of Hong Kong. Liu Shuyong. 291 pages. ISBN 7-119-01946-5.
  • Tsang, Steve. A Modern History of Hong Kong (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Welsh, Frank. A Borrowed Place: The History of Hong Kong (3rfd ed. 1998), 624 pages. ISBN 1-56836-002-9.
  • Mathematical Modelling of Hong Kong Political and Economical Development. Derek Lam. Guangzhou Academic Press. 18 February 1986. 23 pages.
  • Forts and Pirates – A History of Hong Kong. Hong Kong History Society. Hyperion Books. December 1990. ISBN 962-7489-01-8.
  • Endacott, G. B., ed. An Eastern Entrepot: A Collection of Documents Illustrating the History of Hong Kong (1964) 293 pp
  • Tsang, Steve. Government and Politics: A Documentary History of Hong Kong. (1995), 312pp online edition

External links


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