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Hong Kong Province

Name (xiāng gǎng) ['fragrant' 'harbor']
CapitalHong Kong City
Population7.264 million (0.53 %) [29th] comparison table
Area1,000 km2 [386 mile2] (0.01 %) [32nd]
GDP253,513 (7.36 %) [2nd]
Position of Hong Kong in China
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Google map of Hong Kong
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Hong Kong is a former British island outpost. It is a ‘Special Administrative Region’ rather than a province as it is working through fifty years of ‘two systems one country’ transitional period negotiated with the U.K.. Its quasi-independence is clear from the retention of its own currency, the Hong Kong dollar which is pegged to the US dollar, and its own flag (a five petaled orchid). Hong Kong The name ‘Hong Kong’ is based on the local Cantonese name for the island; the mandarin name is Xianggang meaning fragrant harbor. It is known colloquially as the Oriental Pearl. It stands strategically on the Pearl River delta where vast amounts of sea trade passes to the main Chinese southern port of Guangzhou. It has steep mountains, with ‘The Peak’ shan teng (1,811 feet [552 meters] rising dramatically from the sea. Much of the sea front and the airport sit on reclaimed land as there is so little flat land. The large town of Kowloon on the mainland, also part of Hong Kong, means 'nine dragons' (jiulong in mandarin Chinese).

Hong Kong, harbor, skyscraper, modern housing
Night skyline of Victoria harbor, Hong Kong

Hong Kong History

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The History of Hong Kong

Initially the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston dismissed Hong Kong Island as of little value: ‘a barren rock with nary a house on it’, however the harbor proved an excellent base for trade with China standing the other side of the Pearl River estuary from the much older Portuguese colony of Macau. It was Scottish entrepreneurs such as Jardine Matheson who turned it into a bustling port. Cantonese People moved from surrounding Guangdong province to provide an ample supply of cheap labor. Hong Kong island became a British possession in 1842 under the treaty of Nanjing at the end of the First Opium War, and in 1860 China lost neighboring Kowloon too in the Second Opium War. Hong Kong then shot to prosperity after the Second World War when capitalists fled Communist mainland China. Britain leased the 'New Territories' on the mainland in 1898 for 99 years and this was the reason for the handover on June 30th 1997. If only the New Territories had been returned to Chinese control, the remaining 'permanent' possession of Hong Kong Island would not have been able to function independently. The use of Cantonese rather than Mandarin is still prevalent in place names, it is expected that Mandarin will gradually replace it within the 50 year transition period. English is widely spoken and used, and British traditions remain an important influence, especially in administration.

Foreign devils Yang si gui For all about the creation and development of the 'treaty ports' that popped up in most major cities in China 1860-1920 see our treaty port section.
Hong Kong, modern housing, view
Densely populated Hong Kong

Financial and industrial enterprises have flourished and Hong Kong remains a city of world-wide importance. HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai bank) and Bank of China have impressive sky scrapper buildings here. By many measures it is the most densely populated city on Earth. Hong Kong has a notable local film industry which produced massively successful 'kung fu' films. Famous for cuisine and a major luxury shopping area, it remains a popular tourist destination. The boats of the Star Ferry company provide excellent views of the city from the water as they navigate between Hong Kong island and Kowloon. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens are world famous for their impressive collections of animals and plants. The Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay is a relatively modern temple from the Qing dynasty while Victoria Peak is a mountainous viewpoint which offers dramatic views of the skyline. Each day the noon day gun is fired as it has done since the 1864. It is immortalized in Noel Coward's 'Mad dogs and Englishman ' song. The tradition started because the British trading company of Jardines had had the habit of firing a gun salute whenever a senior executive arrived, while this privilege should have been reserved for the military commanders. As punishment Jardines were ordered to fire a noon day gun for ever after. Horse racing is a very popular sport, and the Happy Valley Racecourse in the center of the the city has packed stands on Wednesday nights.

Hong Kong, Buddhism, gateway
The Po Lin Monastery Hong Kong with its famous Big Buddha statue


Hong Kong consists of a group of mountainous islands and a chunk of mainland. The terrain heavily restricted development but there are some surprisingly peaceful and beautiful nature reserves within Hong Kong's boundaries. The climate is extremely hot, wet and humid in summer with winters not that much cooler.

Hong Kong, park, modern housing
A pavilion located at Nan Liang Garden in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Climate

Temperature axisClimate ChartRainfall axis
Climate chart for Hong Kong
Both Temp Rainfall ° C/mms ° F/ins Key
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Major CitiesPopulation
Hong Kong City 6,780,000


Hong Kong International Airport 香港国际机场 HKG IATA / VHHH ICAO
The airport has 2 terminals and is located 21.7 miles (35.0 kms) from Hong Kong City
International Links to :Many Countries
See map of location Hong Kong International Airport


University of Hong Kong

After the rapid development of Hong Kong, the original College of Medicine (where Sun Yatsen was the most famous student) it became a University in 1911 and has been the highest ranked Chinese University for some years. It is highly regarded in a number of disciplines including law and medicine.. Undergraduates: 15227, Postgraduates: 11778, International students: 6814, GP World ranking 32

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology often abbreviated as HKUST was founded less than 35 years ago; it specializes in science, engineering, business and technology and has rapidly achieved a high International ranking.. Undergraduates: 8699, Postgraduates: 3897, International students: 3625, GP World ranking 28

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Despite the use of 'Chinese' in its name, English is the main teaching language at this well regarded Hong Kong University just 50 years old. It has a high international reputation in mathematics; science; medicine as well as the arts and humanities.. Undergraduates: 15351, Postgraduates: 13337, International students: 2746, GP World ranking 51

City University of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has more than its fair share of prestigious universities and the City University is among the top six academic institutions in the territory. It became a full University in 1994 and teaches all the main subjects to a high level. It ranks high in Language and linguistics. Like other Hong Kong universities it teaches principally in English.. Undergraduates: 12689, Postgraduates: 6017, International students: 905, GP World ranking 57

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

This old Hong Kong institution became a University in 1994. It is now the third ranked university in Hong Kong with a high International reputation. It concentrates on business, design, engineering and not science.. Undergraduates: 18777, Postgraduates: 8766, International students: 481, GP World ranking 116

Hong Kong Baptist University

Originally founded as an American Baptist College it became a university in 1994 and now has a high International ranking. It has a full range of courses and is strong in geography, computer science and mathematics.. Undergraduates: 6690, Postgraduates: 2601, International students: 2720, GP World ranking 281
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