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Hongkong

Hong Kong (Chinese: ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,is a territory located on China's south coast on the Pearl River Delta, and borders Guangdong province in the north and faces the South China Sea in the east, west and south. It has a population of 6.9 million people, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Beginning as a trading port, Hong Kong became a dependent territory of the United Kingdom in 1842, and remained so until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997.Along with Macau, Hong Kong is one of two special administrative regions and is not considered as part of mainland China. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy, is largely self-governing, and maintains a highly capitalist economy.The Special Administrative region is also listed as the 7th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita.

Renowned for its expansive skyline and natural setting, Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial capitals and a major business and cultural hub.Its identity as a cosmopolitan centre where east meets west is reflected in its cuisine, cinema, music and traditions,and although the population is predominantly Chinese, residents and expatriates of other ethnicities form a small but significant segment of society.

Geography

The hilly terrain of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
Areas of urban development and vegetation are visible in this false-colour satellite image.

Hong Kong is located on China's south coast, 60 km (37 mi) east of Macau on the opposite side of the Pearl River Delta. It is surrounded by the South China Sea on the east, south, and west, and borders the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province to the north over the Sham Chun River. The territory's 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) land area consists primarily of Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories as well as some 260 other islands.

As much of Hong Kong's terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, less than only 25% of the territory's landmass is developed, and about 40% of the remaining land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves.Most of the territory's urban development exists on Kowloon peninsula, along the northern edge of Hong Kong Island and in scattered settlements throughout the New Territories. The highest elevation in the territory is at Tai Mo Shan, at a height of 958 metres (3,140 ft) above sea level. Hong Kong's long, irregular and curvaceous coastline also affords the territory with many bays, rivers and beaches.

Despite Hong Kong's reputation of being intensely urbanised, the territory has made much effort to promote a green environment, and recent growing public concern has prompted the severe restriction of further land reclamation from Victoria Harbour. Awareness of the environment is growing as Hong Kong suffers from increasing pollution compounded by its geography and tall buildings. Approximately 80% of the city's smog originates from other parts of the Pearl River Delta.

Situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong's climate is humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cwa). Summer is hot and humid with occasional showers and thunderstorms, and warm air coming from the southwest. It is also the time when tropical cyclones are most likely, sometimes resulting in flooding or landslips. Winter weather usually starts sunny and becomes cloudier towards February, with the occasional cold front bringing strong, cooling winds from the north. The most pleasant seasons are spring, although changeable, and autumn, which is generally sunny and dry. Hong Kong averages 1,948 hours of sunshine per year, while the highest and lowest ever recorded temperatures at the Hong Kong Observatory are 36.1 C (97.0 F) and 0.0 C (32.0 F), respectively.

Economy

2 International Finance Centre, the pinnacle of high-rise architecture in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the world's leading financial centres.Its highly capitalist economy has been ranked as the most free economy in the world in the Index of Economic Freedom for 14 consecutive years. It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with the greatest concentration of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, and is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers for its high growth rates and rapid industrialisation between the 1960s and 1990s. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of US$2.97 trillion as of October 2007, and the second highest value of initial public offerings, after London.The currency used in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar, which has been pegged to the US dollar since 1983.

The Government of Hong Kong plays a passive role in the financial industry, mostly leaving the direction of the economy to market forces and the private sector. Under the official policy of positive non-interventionism, Hong Kong is often cited as an example of laissez-faire capitalism. Following World War II, Hong Kong industrialised rapidly as a manufacturing centre driven by exports, and then underwent a rapid transition to a service-based economy in the 1980s. Hong Kong matured to become a financial centre in the 1990s, but was greatly affected by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, and again in 2003 by the SARS outbreak. A revival of external and domestic demand has led to a strong recovery, as cost decreases strengthened the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports and a long deflationary period ended.

The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it must import most of its food and raw materials. Hong Kong is the world's eleventh largest trading entity,with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. Much of Hong Kong's exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong. Even before the 1997 handover, Hong Kong had established extensive trade and investment ties with mainland China, and its autonomous status now enables it to serve as a point of entry for investment flowing into the mainland. At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million people employed full-time, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1%, the fourth straight year of decline. Hong Kong's economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP, while industry now constitutes just 9%. Inflation was at 2% in 2007, and Hong Kong's largest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.

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