Short History of Hong Kong

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Hong Kong is one of the successful islands in the world. Over the last century and today, it has blossomed as a financial center. Its future appears to be bright as ever. It was a dependant territory of the UK in 1842. Since 1997, it once again came back under China's fold. Now Hong Kong continues to enjoy economic development under the policy of China's one country, two systems.

Hong Kong is situated in the southern part of China and is found in the South China Sea. It is officially known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The island of Hong Kong is small having a land mass of nearly 427 square miles. Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world. The population of its inhabitants reaches over 7 million. Hong Kong is one of the most important and successful financial, cultural and communications hubs in the world. While the vast majority of the inhabitants are Chinese, there are also few expatriates from many nations living in Hong Kong and it known for its international atmosphere.


The word Hong Kong is derived from the Cantonese word Hakka which means fragrant harbor. Hong Kong's original harbor is now known as Aberdeen Harbor. In Europe, Hong Kong's first mention was recorded by the Portuguese explorer Jorge Alvares who arrived in 1513. When China and Britain signed the treaty of Nanking in 1842, the name Hong Kong was officially used for the first time.

Kong was used by the British for trading opium among other commodities in the mid 1800's. Because of the immense social and financial affects on China's population, the Qing Dynasty refused to no longer import Opium in 1839, this resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain. Hong Kong was occupied by Britain in 1842 and the British established a Crown Colony under the Treaty of Nanking. During the Second Opium War, Stonecutters Island and Kowloon Peninsula also ceded to Britain. In 1898, Britain obtained a 99 year lease of Hong Kong. For this long period leading till 1997, Hong Kong was under the control of UK.


Hong Kong played a major role in Asia as a center of trade during the early 20th century. It progressed financially and culturally. However during the Second World War, Japanese Empire drove off the British from the island in the Battle of Hong Kong and took control of Hong Kong till the end of 1941.

The civilians of the island suffered extremely during the initial invasion and occupation of Hong Kong. There was wide spread food shortage and hyper inflation was experienced. From 1945 to 1971, the conditions were extremely bad when the control of Hong Kong returned back to the British after Japan surrendered. Nearly half of the civilians had died.

Hong Kong quickly recovered after World War II because of the arrival of migrants from the mainland of China. Additionally, many companies also shifted their operations to Hong Kong due to the communist takeover of the mainland China. Textiles and manufacturing Industries grew over the years. The labor was cheap and businesses and entrepreneurs were easy to operate because of the capitalist philosophy of Hong Kong. The economic development of Hong Kong left China more isolated. Today, Hong Kong is specifically known more for its finance and banking sectors.

On the midnight of 1st July 1997, the changeover from British to China's control took place. UK and China were planning the transition close to 20 years before then. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was agreed in 1984. The document specified that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region for at least the next 50 years beginning in 1997. This was helpful in making sure that Hong Kong would continue to succeed and will not face disturbance at the time of transition.

Hong Kong is ruled today under the principle of one country, two systems. It still enjoys a vast range of autonomy except in matters of defense and foreign affairs. Hong Kong is ruled under the basic law and its people enjoy an economic system based on capitalism, human rights and freedom. The future of Hong Kong is bright as ever and it continues to be an economic and cultural powerhouse in Asia.

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