About Hong Kong
Positioned at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on the coast of southern China, Hong Kong’s geographical position as a gateway between the East and West has made it an attractive centre for international trade. As a reflection of this, the heart of Asia’s world city has always been the bustling and beautiful Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island lies to the south of the harbour, while the Kowloon Peninsula forms its northern shores. To the north of Kowloon lies the New Territories, which stretch all the way to Mainland China. Hong Kong is also home to more than 200 Outlying Islands, including Lantau Island, where Hong Kong International Airport is located.
Hong Kong as we know it today was born when China’s Qing dynasty government was defeated in the First Opium War in 1842, when it ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain. Within 60 years, Kowloon, the New Territories and 235 Outlying Islands were also leased to Britain. However, the history of the more than 1100 square kilometers that Hong Kong now occupies predates the events of the Qing dynasty by more than a thousand years. And, as you explore the city’s colourful heritage, you’ll discover stories of powerful clans, marauding pirates and European traders.
From its earliest days as a British colony, Hong Kong served as a centre of international trade. In the turbulent years of the early 20th century, the city’s population was bolstered by refugees, mostly from China. The arrival of immigrants in large numbers helped launch a new role for Hong Kong as a major manufacturing hub. It also brought economically stimulating energy and industry to the city’s character. In recent decades, as the economy of Mainland China has undergone a process of opening up, Hong Kong has transformed yet again – this time into a service-based economy as well as an important gateway to the world’s largest market.
Under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. This arrangement allows the city to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech. 20th century, the city’s population was bolstered by refugees, mostly from industry to the city’s character. In recent decades, as the economy of
A look at the city’s history could give a strong impression that change is the only constant here. However, despite all its reinventions, Hong Kong’s spirit has never changed. In fact, the same energy and dynamism that turned a group of sleepy fishing villages into a crossroads of international trade is now taking Asia’s world city into the 21st century. Experience that spirit and Hong Kong’s story yourself by exploring the city’s rich.
LANGUAGES AND CULTURES
Hong Kong can mostly thank its colonial history and international harbour for
the rich blend of cultures that give it its unique character. While the majority
of the city’s population are Chinese speakers, simply walking the streets will
expose you to a medley of Asian and European languages.
The comfort with which these languages and dialects co-exist reflects the high level of cultural tolerance in Hong Kong, where multiple denominations of Christian churches share space with Chinese joss houses; Buddhist, Taoist and Sikh temples; mosques and synagogues. Moreover, the presence of enduring and ancient cultures in a society that has had to constantly adapt to change has created a unique contemporary culture that is a true mixture of tradition and innovation. Hong Kong is where you’ll see elderly men playing ancient Chinese board games on digital tablets, where Christmas is celebrated with as much fervour as Chinese New Year, and where state-of-the-art skyscrapers are designed in consultation with feng shui masters.
Hong Kong has been a crossroads of the world since the 19th century. Migrants from all over the globe have brought not only their futures to the harbour city, but also their diverse faiths. Their places of worship shed light on the unique story of Hong Kong and its melting pot of cultures.
Charming, pretty and tucked away in the residential hub of the Mid-Levels, Jamia is Hong Kong’s first mosque, which was built during the 1840s and extended in 1915. Also known as Lascar Temple, the mosque is of rectangular shape, with an arched main entrance and Arabic-style arched windows on all sides. Hong Kong’s growing Muslim community in Hong Kong currently numbers around 220,000, including 30,000 Chinese Muslims. Of the city’s five mosques, the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre on Nathan Road is the biggest, with a capacity of 3500.
Hidden in lush hills and wedged between shining skyscrapers, Hong Kong’s temples are active places of worship and the focal point of the city’s festivals. Visit them to see faithful devotees of Buddhist, Taoist and local deities performing ancient rituals amid aromatic wafts of incense.