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Geography of Hong Kong

Learn Ten Facts about Hong Kong


Hong Kong Flag

The Hong Kong flag is red with a stylized, white, five-petal bauhinia flower in the center.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated July 08, 2011

Hong Kong is one of the two special administrative regions in China. As a special administrative region the former British territory is a part of China but it gets a high level of autonomy and it does not have to follow certain laws that Chinese provinces do. The only areas in which Hong Kong does not get autonomy from China is in its foreign affairs and defense issues. In addition, it has a different political system from that of China and has an independent judicial government branch and its own laws.

Hong Kong is located on China's southeast coast near the Pearl River Delta and along the coast of the South China Sea. It, like many other areas of China, has a very large population that is clustered in a small area. Hong Kong is one of the world's largest international finance centers and as such it has a strong economy with low taxes and free trade. In addition, Hong Kong is known for its quality of life and high ranking on the Human Development Index.

The following is a list of ten facts to know about Hong Kong:

1) Archaeological evidence has shown that humans have been present in the Hong Kong area for at least 35,000 years and there are several areas where researchers have found Paleolithic and Neolithic artifacts throughout the region. In 214 B.C.E. the region became a part of Imperial China after Qin Shi Huang conquered the area. The region then became a part of the Nanyue Kingdom in 206 B.C.E. after the Qin Dynasty collapsed. In 111 B.C.E the Nanyue Kingdom was conquered by Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. The region then eventually became a part of the Tang Dynasty and in 736 C.E. a military town was built to protect the region. In 1276 the Mongols invaded the region and many of the settlements were moved.

2) The first Europeans to arrive in Hong Kong were the Portuguese in 1513. They quickly set up trading settlements in the region and but they were eventually forced out of the area due to clashes with the Chinese military. In 1699 the British East India Company first entered China and established trading posts in Canton. In the mid-1800's the first Opium War between China and Britain took place and Hong Kong was occupied by British forces in 1841. In 1842 the island was ceded to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Nanking. In 1898 the UK also got Lantau Island and nearby lands, which later became known as the New Territories.

3) During World War II in 1941 the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong and the UK eventually surrendered its control of the area to Japan after the Battle of Hong Kong. In 1945 the UK regained control of the colony. Throughout the 1950s Hong Kong rapidly industrialized and as such its economy quickly began to grow. In 1984 the UK and China signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration to transfer Hong Kong to China in 1997 with the understanding that it would get a high level of independence for at least 50 years.

4) On July 1, 1997 Hong Kong was officially transferred from the UK to China and it became the first special administrative region of China. Since then its economy has continued to grow and it has become one of the most stable and highly populated areas in the region.

5) Today Hong Kong is still governed as a special administrative region of China and it has its own form of government with an executive branch made up of a chief of state (its president) and a head of government (the chief executive). It also has a legislative branch of government that is composed of a unicameral Legislative Council and its legal system is based on English laws as well as Chinese laws. Hong Kong's judicial branch consists of a Court of Final Appeal, a High Court as well as district courts, magistrates' courts and other lower level courts.

6) Hong Kong's economy is considered a free market one that is highly dependent on international trade. It is also an important international financial center. The main industries in Hong Kong other than finance and banking are textiles, clothing, tourism, shipping, electronics, plastics, toys, watches and clocks ("CIA World Factbook"). Agriculture is also practiced in some areas of Hong Kong and the main products of that industry are fresh vegetables, poultry, pork and fish ("CIA World Factbook").

7) Hong Kong has a large population with 7,122,508 (July 2011 estimate) people. It also has one of the densest populations in the world because its total area is 426 square miles (1,104 sq km). The population density of Hong Kong is 16,719 people per square mile or 6,451 people per square kilometer. Because of its dense population, its public transit network is highly developed and about 90% of its population utilizes it.

8) Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China near the Pearl River Delta (map). It is about 37 miles (60 km) east of Macau and is surrounded by the South China Sea on the east, south and west. On the north it shares a border with Shenzhen in China's Guangdong province. Hong Kong's area of 426 square miles (1,104 sq km) consists of Hong Kong Island, as well as the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories.

9) The topography of Hong Kong varies but it is mostly hilly or mountainous throughout its area. The hills are also very steep. The northern part of the region consists of lowlands and the highest point in Hong Kong is Tai Mo Shan at 3,140 feet (957 m).

10) Hong Kong's climate is considered subtropical monsoon and as such it is cool and humid in the winter, hot and rainy in spring and summer and warm in the fall. Because it is a subtropical climate, the average temperatures do not vary much throughout the year.

To learn more about Hong Kong, visit its official government website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (16 June 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Hong Kong. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/hk.html

Wikipedia.org. (29 June 2011). Hong Kong - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong

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