Hong Kong is a special region situated on the southeastern coast of China. With a population of over 7 million on an area of 1,000 square kilometers Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. The city consists of four parts. Hong Kong Island is where the British originally set up their trading post. It is the richest part of the city with modern skyscrapers and shopping malls. Kowloon Peninsula is part of the Asian mainland with a mix of apartment buildings, shopping malls and street markets. The New Territories is the countryside to the north of Kowloon that the British took over from China in 1898. There are also over 200 islands around Hong Kong.
The coastline of Hong Kong is very irregular with many bays and inlets. Much of the coast has been filled with earth to in order to create new land. In the 1990s a new airport was built on an island created in the sea.
Most of Hong Kong’s population is Chinese; either from the surrounding provinces or from families who came to Hong Kong after the Communists took over China in 1949. In the 1970s and 80s thousands of Vietnamese fled their home country after the Vietnam War and came to Hong Kong. Most people speak Cantonese, a southern Chinese language, and English.
Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842 after China and Great Britain had led a war on opium trade. At that time Hong Kong had already become an important trading post. At first the British only occupied Hong Kong Island; later on it expanded to Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories.
Britain controlled the colony until 1997 when it became a special administrative region of China. Hong Kong has a different political system than China. It is a city state that governs itself. The Chinese agreed to give Hong Kong this special autonomy until 2047.
Hong Kong is not only one of China’s leading economic centers but also a major Asian financial center. It has a strong stock market and its currency is one of the most traded in the world. 90% of the income comes from the service sector. Although Hong Kong has very limited raw materials industry has grown, especially in the New Territories.
Its natural harbor and one of the busiest container ports in the world make Hong Kong a centre of trade throughout the Pacific region. For many decades Hong Kong was China’s gate to the world.
One of Hong Kong’s main problems is its limited space. Therefore construction has gone upwards instead of expanding horizontally. It is also one of the cities with the best public transportation systems in the world.
Way of Life
The British introduced their way of life to the colony. Street and place names are British. Schools, colleges and universities follow the British educational system. British customs like horse racing or five o’clock tea time are also common in Hong Kong. Western entertainment is dominant all across the city. Fast food restaurants mix with typical Chinese cuisine.
Hong Kong is a very expensive place to be. Housing prices are generally high, rich people live in high rise apartment buildings while the poorer population often has small huts or houses and only a few square meters of land.
Visitors to Hong Kong can enjoy numerous places to go to and sights to see. A trip by tram to Victoria Peak gives tourists a magnificent view of Kowloon peninsula and Hong Kong Island.
Victoria Harbor is a traditional place of interest for Hong Kong tourists. Because of its outstanding location between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula it is the starting place for boat rides and offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline.
Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island gives tourists an insight of historical and traditional Hong Kong with fruit and vegetable markets. Ladies Market in Mong Kok is over one kilometer long and offers clothing for women of all ages. Temple Street is full of goods that are typical of Hong Kong.
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- agree = to say yes
- although = while
- area = size
- autonomy = the ability to control and rule yourself
- bay = part of the sea that has a curve in the coastline
- busy = full of activity
- city state = independent country that only consists of a city and the neighboring countryside
- clothing = clothes
- colony = country or area that is controlled by a bigger more powerful one
- common = popular, liked
- consist of = made up of
- cuisine = food
- currency = the official money of a country
- custom = tradition
- decade = a period of ten years
- densely populated = many people live on very little land
- dominant = leading
- either = whichever
- entertainment = activities like films, theater performances, television etc.. that people can enjoy in their free time
- especially = above all
- expand =to make larger
- flee – fled = escape from a place during a dangerous situation
- gate = entrance, door
- goods = products
- govern = rule
- high rise = very tall building
- hut = small house
- income = money
- inlet = narrow area of water that reaches from the sea into the land
- insight = clear understanding of something
- instead of = in something’s place
- irregular = not straight
- leading = number one
- limited = not enough
- magnificent = great
- mainland = main area of land that forms a country; not the islands
- numerous = very many
- occupy = to enter a place with an army and control it
- opium = powerful drug made from small black seeds of the poppy flower
- originally = at first
- public transportation = buses, trains etc.. that everyone can use
- service sector = part of the economy that does not produce anything, like tourism or transportation
- shopping mall = shopping centre
- situated = located, to be found
- skyline = outline of the buildings of a city that you can see from the sea
- skyscraper = very tall modern city building
- spectacular = fantastic, amazing
- stock market = place where parts of a company are traded
- surrounding = neighboring
- therefore = that is why
- trading post = a place in the past where people could buy and sell their goods
- tram = streetcar