Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, shortened to Hong Kong (香港, pinyin: xiang1 gang3, Cantonese: heung1 gong2, meaning Fragrant Harbour), is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China, consisting of several islands in the South China Sea, and a peninsula.

Under the policy of the 'One Country, Two Systems', Hong Kong enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy from the Mainland, continuing to have its own currency, customs and immigration, legal system, and even its own rule of the road, with traffic continuing to drive on the left.

中華人民共和國香港特別行政區
Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region of the People's Republic of China
(In Detail) ()
National motto: None
Official languages Chinese (Cantonese
used in the LegCo)
and English
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa
Area
 - Total
 - % water
(Not ranked)
1,092 km²
4.6%
Population
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
(Not ranked)
7,303,334
6,688/km²
Establishment
 - Date
Handover to the PRC
July 1, 1997
Currency Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
Time zone UTC +8 (AWST)
Internet TLD.HK
Calling Code852

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Districts
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External links
10 Photos

History

Main article: History of Hong Kong

Although it was occupied since at least the Neolithic Age, the territory of today's Hong Kong remained adistant from the major events unfolding in imperial China for most of its history. It started attracting worldwide attention in the 19th century.

Occupied by the United Kingdom during the First Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong Island was formally ceded by China the following year under the Treaty of Nanking. Parts of the adjacent Kowloon Peninsula were ceded to Britain in 1860 by the Convention of Beijing after the Second Opium War. Various adjacent lands, known as the New Territories were then leased to Britain for 99 years from July 1, 1898, the lease expiring on June 30 1997.

Pursuant to an agreement signed by the PRC and the UK on December 19, 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the whole territory of Hong Kong under British colonial rule became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC on July 1, 1997.

In the agreement, the PRC promised that, under the "One Country, Two Systems" policy proposed by Deng Xiaoping, China's socialist economic system will not be practised in Hong Kong and that Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters, except foreign affairs and defence, for 50 years, until 2047.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is headed by Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa as head of government. Mr. Tung assumed office on July 1, 1997, following his election by a 400-member committee appointed by the People's Republic of China, whose president serves as head of state for the Hong Kong SAR. Legislative Council elections were held in May 1998 and again in September 2000. According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong's "Mini-constitution," the Legislative Council has 24 directly elected members; 30 members elected by functional (occupational) constituencies and 6 elected by an Election Committee.

The 1998 and 2000 Legislative Council elections were seen as free, open, and widely contested, despite discontent among mainly pro-democracy politicians that the functional constituencies and Election Committee elections are essentially undemocratic because so few voters are eligible to vote. The Civil Service maintains its quality and neutrality, operating without discernible direction from Beijing.

The Right of abode issue sparked debates in 1999, while the controversy over Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 was the focus of politics in Hong Kong between 2002-2003.

Districts

Main article: Districts of Hong Kong

Hong Kong consists of 18 districts:

Geography

Main article:
Geography of Hong Kong

The name "Hong Kong" is derived from Hong Kong Island in the South China Sea, at the mouth of the Xi Jiang or Pearl River of southern China. Other territories that were later added include the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, which include over 200 surrounding islands. The landscape is fairly hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, with the highest point being the Tai Mo Shan at 958 m, though lowlands exist in the north.

Of the total of 1,092 km² of Hong Kong, only 25% are developed. The remaining 75% are set aside as a countryside and preservation area.

The local climate is that of a tropical monsoon clime. It is cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, and warm and sunny in fall. Hong Kong is visited by occasional typhoons.

See also: Ecology of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Country Parks & Special Areas

Economy

Main article: Economy of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a bustling free market economy highly dependent on international trade. Natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. Indeed, imports and exports, including re-exports, each exceed GDP in dollar value. Even before Hong Kong reverted to Chinese administration on July 1, 1997 it had extensive trade and investment ties with the People's Republic of China. The service industry represented 86.5% of the GDP in 2001, and the territory, with a highly sophisticated banking sector, has housed the Asian headquarters of many multinational corporations in the last decades.

Per capita GDP compares with the level in the four big economies of Western Europe. GDP growth averaged a strong 5% in 1989-1997. The widespread Asian economic difficulties in 1998 hit this trade-dependent economy quite hard, with GDP down 5%. The economy, with growth of 10% in 2000, recovered rapidly from the Asian financial crisis. The recent global downturn has badly hurt Hong Kong's exports and GDP growth was 2.3% in 2002.

The main airport, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), is located on a partly artificial island connected to Lantau Island. The airport is often called Chek Lap Kok Airport, after one of the islands it was built on. HKIA is the replacement for the older Kai Tak Airport, which was known for its spectacular urban approach. Kai Tak was retired after Chek Lap Kok was built and now serves as an recreational venue.

In early 2003, the local economy was hardly hit by the outbreak the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). On June 29, 2003, the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was signed. CEPA allows Hong Kong service providers in 18 areas to enter the mainland market at least one year ahead of their foreign competitors. The arrangement provides a platform for Hong Kong professionals to practice on the mainland and also allows Hong Kong permanent residents to set up individually owned retail stores in Guangdong Province. Experts suggest the economies of the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan should join hands to capitalize on the opportunities provided by CEPA.

On July 28, 2003, the Individual Visit Scheme was started to allow travellers from some cities in mainland China to visit Hong Kong on an individual basis. Consequently, the tourism industry in Hong Kong is booming once again.

See also: Hang Seng Index, List of Chinese companies

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is by population the fourth largest metropolitan area of the PRC (see List of cities in China). Considered as a "dependency", Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries/dependencies in the world, with an overall density of nearly 6,700 people per km².

Despite the population density, Hong Kong was reported to be one of the greenest cities in Asia. The majority of people live in flats in high-rise buildings. The rest of the open spaces are often covered with parks, woods and shrubs. The vertical placement of the population explains why densely populated, green city is not an oxymoronic phrase.

Cantonese, the Chinese dialect used in Hong Kong government matters, is spoken by most of the population. English, also an official language, is widely understood; it is spoken by more than one-third of the population. Every major religion is practiced in Hong Kong; ancestor worship is predominant due to the strong Confucian influence, whereas Christianity is practised by a minority of 10%.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Hong Kong

General Holidays and Festivals
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
Every Sunday所有星期日
January 1The first day of January一月一日
January 1 (Lunar)Lunar New Year's Day農曆年初一Usually in late January or early February
January 2 (Lunar)The second day of the Lunar New Year農曆年初二
January 3 (Lunar)The third day of the Lunar New Year農曆年初三
Ching Ming Festival清明節Usually in April. See Chinese calendar.
About 15 days after Vernal Equinox
Day for paying respect to the deceased
Good Friday耶穌受難節
The day following Good Friday耶穌受難節翌日
Easter Monday復活節星期一
May 1Labour Day勞動節
April 8 (Lunar)The Buddha's Birthday佛誕Usually in May
May 5 (Lunar)Dragon Boat Festival (Tuen Ng Festival)端午節Usually in June
July 1Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day香港特別行政區成立紀念日
August 16 (Lunar)The day following the Mid-Autumn Festival中秋節翌日Usually in September
October 1PRC's National Day國慶日
September 9 (Lunar)Chung Yeung Festival重陽節Usually in October
December 21 or December 22Dong Zhi (Winter solstice Festival)not a holiday
December 25Christmas Day聖誕節
December 26The first weekday after Christmas Day聖誕節後第一個周日

Reference: General Holidays Ordinance

Miscellaneous topics

Major landmarks include:

External links

Photos


View of the central district of Hong Kong, from Victoria Peak


Countries of the world  |  Asia

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