Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR), is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. With over 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, it is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, it maintains separate governing and economic systems from mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Originally a sparsely populated area of farming and fishing villages, the territory has become one of the world’s most significant financial centers and commercial ports. It is the world’s tenth-largest exporter and ninth-largest importer. Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterized by low taxation and free trade, and its currency, the Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world.
Hong Kong is a highly developed territory and ranks fourth on the UN Human Development Index. The city has the largest number of skyscrapers of any city globally, and its residents have some of the highest life expectancies in the world. The dense space led to a developed transportation network with public transport rates exceeding 90 percent.