Hong Kong

Hong Kong, British dependency in eastern Asia, on the South China Sea, bordered by China on the north. It is made up of many islands, a portion of the mainland, and a considerable expanse of water surface. It has a land area of 1076 sq km (415 sq mi). Despite its small size, Hong Kong plays an important role in the world economy.

The dependency can be divided into three main regions—Hong Kong Island and nearby islets; the mainland Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutters Island; and the New Territories, made up principally of a large area on the mainland and Lantau island. The dependency is partly situated in the Zhu Jiang, or Pearl River, delta, and the Sham Chun River forms the border with China. Much of Hong Kong is hilly, and substantial areas of the low-lying terrain are made up of land reclaimed from the sea. Only about 12 percent is forested, but small tropical and subtropical plants are abundant elsewhere. Hong Kong\'s small amount of fertile soil is concentrated in the mainland portion of the New Territories, near Deep Bay. Few large wild animals inhabit the dependency.

Although within the Tropics, Hong Kong has a subtropical climate because of the southwestern monsoon, a moist, warm, equatorial wind that brings a rainy season between May and August. The mean annual temperature is 22.2° C (72° F), with a range from 15° C (59° F) in February to 27.8° C (82° F) in July. Typhoons occasionally cause great destruction.

People and Principal Cities
The population of Hong Kong is about 97 percent Chinese, with some Filipinos, British, Indians, Portuguese, and Americans. The population of Hong Kong (1990 estimate) was 5,575,900. The overall population density was 5351 people per sq km (13,874 per sq mi), making Hong Kong one of the most densely populated regions in the world.
Chinese culture dominates in Hong Kong. Yet, as a port inhabited and visited by people of many nationalities, the dependency is subject to diverse influences, especially that of the British. Most people adhere to a version of the Chinese folk religion, which combines elements of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and other beliefs. About 8 percent of the people are Christian.
The capital and cultural center of Hong Kong is Victoria, which is on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. Also of major importance are Kowloon and New Kowloon, extending from the Kowloon Peninsula into the New Territories. Kowloon and Victoria are separated from each other by Victoria Bay.

Language and Education
English and the Cantonese form of Chinese are the official languages of Hong Kong, but Chinese is the most widely used. Primary and junior secondary education is free and compulsory. In the late 1980s about 534,500 pupils attended primary schools, and some 450,100 students were enrolled in secondary and vocational schools. The main institutions of higher education are the University of Hong Kong (1911), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1963), and Hong Kong Polytechnic (1972).

Agriculture and Fishing
Because of the land shortage, Hong Kong imports much of its food supply. Vegetables are the primary crop. Farming is largely confined to the New Territories. Fishing is an important occupation; in the late 1980s some 228,000 metric tons of fish were caught annually. A large portion of the fish catch is exported.

Partly because of the large influx of skilled immigrants from China after 1950, Hong Kong has developed important manufacturing industries. The principal products include textiles, clothing, footwear, electronic and electrical equipment, ships, fabricated metal, chemicals, rubber goods, precision instruments, timepieces, printed materials, toys, and processed food.

Currency, Banking, and Transportation
The unit of currency is the Hong Kong dollar (7.5853 Hong Kong dollars equal U.S.$1; 1991). The dependency is an important international financial center, with many offices of foreign banks. It has several stock exchanges.
Hong Kong had about 1465 km (about 910 mi) of roads in the late 1980s. With more than 400,000 motor vehicles, Hong Kong has one of the highest vehicle densities in the world. The dependency is connected by railroad with China and has a subway system. Ferries and hydrofoils link various parts of the dependency, which is also served by a major international airport near Kowloon. Construction on a new airport began in 1992.

Foreign Trade
Hong Kong is important as a port primarily