10 Facts About Hong Kong

Reunification Monument in Expo Promenade near Hong Kong Convention Center
Reunification Monument in Expo Promenade near Hong Kong Convention Center.

ThoughtCo / Linda Garrison

Located along the southern coast of China, Hong Kong is one of the two special administrative regions in China. As a special administrative region, the former British territory of Hong Kong is a part of China but gets a high level of autonomy and does not have to follow certain laws that Chinese provinces do. Hong Kong is known for its quality of life and high ranking on the Human Development Index.

Fast Facts: Hong Kong

  • Official Name: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • Capital: City of Victoria
  • Population: 7,213,338 (2018)
  • Official Language: Cantonese
  • Currency: Hong Kong dollars (HKD)
  • Form of Government: Presidential limited democracy; a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China
  • Climate: Subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall
  • Total Area: 428 square miles (1,108 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Tai Mo Shan at 3,143 feet (958 meters)
  • Lowest Point: South China Sea at 0 feet (0 meters)

35,000-Year History

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 BCE, 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 BCE, 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 CE, a military town was built to protect the region. In 1276, the Mongols invaded the region and many of the settlements were moved.

A British Territory

The first Europeans to arrive in Hong Kong were the Portuguese in 1513. They quickly set up trading settlements in the region and 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-1800s, 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.

Invaded During WWII

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.

Transferred Back to China

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.

Its Own Form of Government

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.

The only areas in which Hong Kong does not get autonomy from China is in its foreign affairs and defense issues.

A World of Finance

Hong Kong is one of the world's largest international financial centers and as such it has a strong economy with low taxes and free trade. The economy is considered a free market, one that is highly dependent on international trade.

The main industries in Hong Kong, other than finance and banking, are textiles, clothing, tourism, shipping, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, and clocks.

Agriculture is also practiced in some areas of Hong Kong and the main products of that industry are fresh vegetables, poultry, pork and fish.

Dense Population

Hong Kong has a large population of 7,213,338 (2018 estimate). 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.

Located on China's Southern Coast

Hong Kong is located on the south coast of China, near the Pearl River Delta. 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.


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).

Nice Weather

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.


  • Central Intelligence Agency. "CIA - The World Factbook - Hong Kong."
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Briney, Amanda. "10 Facts About Hong Kong." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/hong-kong-geography-1434418. Briney, Amanda. (2021, February 16). 10 Facts About Hong Kong. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/hong-kong-geography-1434418 Briney, Amanda. "10 Facts About Hong Kong." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/hong-kong-geography-1434418 (accessed March 26, 2023).