Hong Kongremains one of the world’s most important cities and certainly one of the most dramatically located anywhere on the planet. It is an Alpha + city, ranking as the 3rd most important financial centre in the world after New York and London. As soon as you hear it’s name the image of it’s skyscraper strewn skyline on the harbour immediately springs to mind and despite having been under British, Japanese and Chinese rule over the last century, it has developed it’s own unique “East meets West” culture.
Colonial Hong Kong
Hong Kong Island first became a colony of Britain at the end of the First Opium War in 1842 with Kowloon following in 1860 and the New Territories in 1898. It was run under a system of minimal government intervention that has greatly shaped its culture. It was ceded to the Japanese during World War II but returned to British rule after the war until 1997 when it returned to Chinese rule under the “One country, Two systems” that was set up to protect Hong Kong’s largely autonomous rule.
When the British took charge of Hong Kong Islandthe population was only roughly 7,000 fisherman and charcoal burners. It’s status as a British free port started to attract more and more Chinese and Europeans alike. By 1898 it had expanded it’s territory to the size we now know as Hong Kong. Apart from the 4 year period from 1941-45 that the Japanese took control, the population and living standards continued to grow especially driven by textile exports. By the time it was to be handed over to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, the Hong Kong people enjoyed a much higher standard of living than their compatriots in the PRC.
Handover to China
On 1st July 1997 Hong Kong became the first Special Administrative Region of the PRC and despite some tensions between the people of the islands and the Beijing government much has remained unchanged from the times of British rule.
Since the 1980’s, Hong Kong changed to a service sector model and that has resulted in a booming tourist industry that now is one of the three main sources of income for the islands along with international trade and financial services. Nowadays most of those tourists come from Mainland China with the Chinese love of international luxury brands been more than catered for. It boasts one of the world’s most famous hotels in the Peninsula, with afternoon tea there still a highlight for many visiting. The Peninsula, along with hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental have set the standards for other Asian hotels and even those worldwide.
Popular tourist sights of Hong Kong
Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay, Victoria Harbour Stanley and Lan Kwai Fong are just a few of the names of places that are popular with tourists on the island but there is much to explore on the peaceful islands of Lantau and Lama as well as bargains to be found in the busy shops of Kowloon. The food is world class as is the nightlife and it is the perfect place to let your hair down after any China tour.