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August 10th, 2013 

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Hong Kong

Hong Kong


 Hong Kong is home to 7,055,000 inhabitants (2009 est.) living in an area of about 1,100 square kilometers. If it were its own country, it would have the thirteenth highest GDP per capita in the world, as well as the fifth highest life expectancy. The primary language is Cantonese, a language which is very different from the Mandarin of mainland China. The climate is cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy in spring and summer, and sunny and warm in autumn.

 We know from archeological evidence that human beings have been living in the area now known as Hong Kong for at least thirty thousand years. It was annexed by China under the first Chinese emperor, Qin Shi Huang, late in the third century BC. Hong Kong's fortunes waxed and waned through the centuries along with that of China as a whole. By and large, it was no more remarkable than any other part of China during much of the imperial era. When European explorers arrived, however, they focused their trading mostly in the southern areas of China, including Hong Kong. The most notable European company to trade in Hong Kong would prove to be the British East India Company.

 When the Chinese objected to British involvement in the opium trade, it sparked the First Opium War, which lasted from 1839-1842. The Treaty of Nanking, which ended the war, ceded Hong Kong island to the victorious British. Two further territorial cessations later in the century created the larger area we know today as Hong Kong. In 1898, as part of a treaty to acquire more nearby land, Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to the Chinese after ninety-nine years. British government led to an increase in Hong Kong's wealth as it became a major port, although, as always, colonisation brought many disadvantages to the people as well.


 Hong Kong's prosperity was shattered by a nearly four-year-long occupation by Japanese troops during World War II. Ironically, the island was at last liberated in 1945 by a combined force of British and Chinese troops. Another irony arose after the war: though Hong Kong had once suffered from the rule of a foreign empire, it was now much freer than mainland China, as Britain grew more democratic and China fell to Communist rule. When the time came for the return of the area to Chinese control, Chinese officials agreed to provide Hong Kong with a certain level of internal self-government, a concept known as "One Country, Two Systems."

 Important attractions in Hong Kong include Victoria Peak, the largest mountain on the island, which affords a remarkable view of the city; Victoria Harbour, which offers an equally stunning view; and Ocean Park, which Forbes Magazine named the one of the world's most popular theme parks. There are also many beaches, museums, and shopping locations that should not be missed. Visitors may also wish to plan their Hong Kong trips to coincide with an important event or festival.

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