desert

Map of Hong Kong

“Hong Kong is a city of teeming streets and empty wilderness, dazzling modernity and traditional observances. Brash, buccaneering and Westernised, yet conservatively minded and Chinese to its core, Hong Kong surprises, delights and confounds with its cheerful contradictions and energetic inconsistency.”


Overview

Hong Kong is located on the Pearl River Delta in East Asia, bordering the Chinese province of Guangdong to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east, west and south. It has a population of 6.9 million people, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Beginning as a trading port, Hong Kong became a dependent territory of the United Kingdom in 1842, and remained so until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997. Along with Macau, Hong Kong is one of the two special administrative regions and is not considered part of mainland China. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy and is largely self-governing. While China is a developing country and adopts the policy of socialism, Hong Kong retails its developed status and maintains a highly capitalist economy.

Renowned for its expansive skyline and natural setting, Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial capitals, a major business and cultural hub. Its identity as a cosmopolitan centre where east meets west is reflected in its cuisine, cinema, music and traditions, and although the population is predominantly Chinese, residents and expatriates of other ethnicities form a small but significant segment of society.

Economy
Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial centres. Its highly capitalist economy is perhaps the freest in the world. The Index of Economic Freedom has ranked it as such for 15 consecutive years. It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with 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 industrialisation between the 1960s and 1990s.

Following World War II, 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. Hong Kong matured to become a financial centre in the 1990s & is the world's eleventh largest trading entity, with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. Hong Kong's economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP.






Transport

Hong Kong has a highly developed transportation network, encompassing both public and private transport. Over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport, making it the highest percentage in the world.

The city's rapid transit system, MTR, has 150 stations and serves 3.4 million people a day.

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 in 2007.

Climate
subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall

Weather averages for Hong Kong

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Avg high
°C (°F)

18.6
(65)

18.6
(65)

21.5
(71)

25.1
(77)

28.4
(83)

30.4
(87)

31.3
(88)

31.1
(88)

30.2
(86)

27.7
(82)

24.0
(75)

20.3
(69)

25
(77)

Avg low
°C (°F)

14.1
(57)

14.4
(58)

16.9
(62)

20.6
(69)

23.9
(75)

26.1
(79)

26.7
(80)

26.4
(80)

25.6
(78)

23.4
(74)

19.4
(67)

15.7
(60)

21
(70)

Rain mm
(inches)

24
(0.94)

52
(2.05)

71
(2.8)

188
(7.4)

329
(12.95)

388
(15.28)

374
(14.72)

444
(17.48)

287
(11.3)

151
(5.94)

35
(1.38)

34
(1.34)

2,382
(93.78)

Source: Hong Kong Observatory 2008

Politics
Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region in all areas except defence and foreign affairs.

The primary institutions of government are:

- The executive: The Executive Council, headed by the Chief Executive who is elected by the Election Committee and then approved and appointed by the Central People's Government;

- The legislature: The Legislative Council with 60 members, half of which are directly elected by universal suffrage, and headed by the President of the Legislative Council who serves as the Speaker of the Council;

- The Hong Kong Civil Service: A politically neutral body that implements policies and provides government services, where public servants are appointed based on qualifications, experience and ability;

- The judiciary: Comprising the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court (which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance), the District Courts, et cetera

Demographics
Residents of Hong Kong are sometimes referred to as Hongkongers. The territory's population increased sharply throughout the 1990s, reaching 6.99 million in 2006. The population in Hong Kong continues to grow due to the influx of immigrants from mainland China, approximating 45,000 per year

About 95% of Hong Kong's population is of Chinese descent, the majority of which is Cantonese or from ethnic groups such as Hakka and Teochew. The remaining 5% of the population is composed of non-ethnic Chinese forming a highly visible group despite their smaller numbers. There are a number of Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans working in Hong Kong's commercial and financial sector.

Hong Kong's de-facto official dialect is Cantonese and is spoken by 95% of the population as a first language. 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. Signs displaying both Chinese and English are common throughout the territory.


Religion
Religion in 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, most prominently Buddhism (mainly Chinese Mahayana) and Taoism. A Christian community of around 600,000 exists, forming about 8% of the total population, and is equally divided between Catholics and Protestants. There are also Muslim, Latter-Day Saint, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Hindu, Sikh and Bahá'í communities. Concerns over a lack of religious freedom after the 1997 handover have subsided, with Falun Gong adherents free to practice in Hong Kong, and the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church freely appointing its own bishops, unlike in mainland China.

Education
Hong Kong's education system roughly follows the system in England, although at the higher education levels, both English and American systems exist. The medium of instruction is mainly spoken Cantonese, written Chinese and English, but Mandarin language education has been increasing. The Programme for International Student Assessment, has ranked Hong Kong's education system as the second best in the world.

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. 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.