Hong Kong (Chinese characters: 香港), often referred as HK or HKG, is a de-facto city-state and one of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The city lies on the southern coast of China, marks the eastern end of the Pearl River Delta, and is embraced by the South China Sea to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the east. In an area of just 1,104 square kilometres, Hong Kong houses a population of seven million, making it the fourth-most densely populated territory in the world.
During the colonial era, the territory espoused minimum government intervention from the British authorities and sheltered immigrants from different parts of the world. The resulting culture, often described as "East meets West", preserves many Chinese traditions; different religions and ethnic groups coexist in it peacefully. The English legal framework and the government's positive non-interventionism economic policy led Hong Kong to become one of the world's leading international financial centres, as well as a hub for regional transport and a famous tourist destination.
Where East meets West
Originally a fishing village on the edge of the Chinese Empire, Hong Kong was changed forever when it became a crown colony of the British Empire as a result of the First Opium War. The stability, security, and predictability of British rule enabled Hong Kong to flourish as a centre for international trade. This attracted people from all over the world to come and stay in Hong Kong, and bring in their own culture, religion and cuisine.
About 95% of the people of Hong Kong are of Chinese descent, and the remaining 5% includes Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, and Vietnamese; there are Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans who mostly work in the city's commercial and financial sector; an estimated 252,500 foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines working in Hong Kong as of 2008.
There is a high degree of religious tolerance in the territory. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity; Christians are nearly equally divided between Catholics and Protestants. Also Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Bahá'í communities coexist peacefully with each other. Minimal government intervention by the British authorities of the Chinese communities allowed Chinese paganism and traditional customs to be preserved among both indigenous residents of the New Territories and immigrants from different parts of China. Some of these traditions can be observed during traditional Chinese festivals such as Mid-Autumn Festival and Tuen Ng Festival, when various celebrations and associated activities take place across the districts of the city.
Logistics and trading have always been tightly bound to the history of Hong Kong since its foundation. Indeed, the original 19th century aim of establishing colonial Hong Kong was to build an entrepôt between the British Empire and the oriental Asian countries, primarily Mainland China. The birth of Hong Kong was a by-product of international trade, and the city's survival and growth remains inevitably bound with and influenced by its importance in international commerce.
Not long after the Second World War ended, Hong Kong prospered as a haven of political stability and legal certainty compared with its neighbours. The continued state of disagreement between mainland China and Taiwan made Hong Kong a necessary stepping stone for travel and trade between the two Chinese governments. Hong Kong's status as a trading port also drove its economical development to new heights, and the resulting prosperity was enjoyed not only by the city itself, but also the whole East Asian region.
The Rose Garden Project, announced in 1989, effected the construction of the new Hong Kong International Airport and its associated transport infrastructure. Regarded as an architectural magnificence of the 20th century and whose construction lasted for 8 years, the new Hong Kong International Airport, known locally as 'Chek Lap Kok Airport', opened on 6 July 1998. Its modern standard of construction laid a foundation stone for a new era of aviation in Hong Kong with much higher developing potential and handling ability compared with the previous Kai Tak Airport, which was infamous for its spectacular urban landings.
Nowadays travelling from and to Hong Kong is a piece of cake, whether from neighbouring regions or the opposite side of the globe. Hong Kong's airport is a primary transportation hub in Asia, served by variety of airlines; flight connections with Asian destinations are many and extremely frequent. It is also a major transit hub on the Kangaroo Routes between Australia and Europe, particularly the United Kingdom. These make Hong Kong the origin of several of the world's busiest passenger air routes, such as between Hong Kong and Sydney, London, Taipei, Tokyo and Beijing. Its accessibility and capacity gives the airport strategic importance in both regional and intercontinental travel.
Currency & money matters
The Hong Kong dollar (港幣 or HKD) is the territory's official currency. In Chinese, one dollar is known formally as the yuen (元) and colloquially as the men (蚊) in Cantonese. You can safely assume that the '$' sign used in the territory refers to HKD unless it includes other initials (e.g. US$ to stand for US Dollar). The HKD is also widely accepted in Macau in lieu of their home currency at a 1:1 rate.
Currency exchange desks are available at the airport, as well as at most banks. Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Euro, Indian Rupee, Japanese Yen, Macau Pataca, Malaysian Ringgit, New Zealand Dollar, Singaporean Dollar, South African Rand, South Korean Won, Swiss Franc, Taiwanese Dollar, Thai Baht, Pound Sterling & US Dollar are all widely exchanged.
|Currency||Equivalent of HKD 1||Equivalent in HKD|
|Australian Dollar||AUD 0.12242||HKD 8.16849|
|Canadian Dollar||CAD 0.13028||HKD 7.67552|
|Swiss Franc||CHF 0.119658||HKD 8.35715|
|Renminbi||CNY 0.815998||HKD 1.22549|
|Euro||EUR 0.09879||HKD 10.1224|
|Pound Sterling||GBP 0.08280||HKD 12.0779|
|Indian Rupee||INR 6.44689||HKD 0.15511|
|Japanese Yen||JPY 10.0553||HKD 0.09945|
|South Korean Won||KRW 145.006||HKD 0.00689626|
|Macau Pataca||MOP 1.03000||HKD 0.970874|
|Malaysian Ringgit||MYR 0.396655||HKD 2.52108|
|New Zealand Dollar||NZD 0.15888||HKD 6.29408|
|Singaporean Dollar||SGD 0.163270||HKD 6.12482|
|Thai Baht||THB 4.06593||HKD 0.245946|
|Taiwanese Dollar||TWD 3.85064||HKD 0.259697|
|US Dollar||USD 0.12885||HKD 7.76106|
|South African Rand||ZAR 1.02268||HKD 0.97782|
Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are common in urban areas. They usually accept VISA, MasterCard, and to certain degree UnionPay. Maestro and Cirrus cards are widely accepted as well. They dispense $100, $500 or rarely $1000 notes depending on the request. Credit card use is common in most shops for major purchases. Most retailers accept VISA and MasterCard, and some accept American Express as well. Maestro debit cards however are not widely accepted by retailers. Signs with the logo of different credit cards are usually displayed at the door to indicate which cards are accepted.
The Octopus card (八達通, "baat daat tung" in Cantonese) provides instant electronic access to Hong Kong's public transport system. As the world's first contactless smart debit card, it can be tapped onto a reader to transfer fare from the passenger to the carrier. It is similar to Singapore's eZ-Link card, London Underground's Oyster card and Japan Railway's IC card. In addition to being used for all forms of public transport (except most of the red-top minibuses and taxis), Octopus is accepted for payment in almost all convenience stores, restaurant chains like McDonald's and Cafe de Coral, many vending machines, all roadside parking and some car parks.
Parts of the Local information pages were adapted from relevant pages from Wikitravel, which are based on work by Claus Hansen, Martin Cox, Samuel Chan, Edison Chua and Bill Ellett, Wikitravel user(s) Globe-trotter, Timeo and Sumone10154, and anonymous editors, released under cc-by-sa 3.0 licence.