Introduction to Hong Kong
Life in the 852 (that’s Hong Kong to you) is all about split personalities. There’s the 99 years of British rule versus 15 years since the China handover. A polluted city juxtaposed with the fresh-air environs of the beaches, natural areas and outlying islands. Towering skyscrapers and verdant spaces. Chinese traditions and popular culture. Old ways and new technology. And the busy metropolis versus tranquil religious sites. What is the real Hong Kong?
The answer is all of the above. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China where it retains its own constitution, currency, government, police force, passports and laws. The population of over seven million is a mix of mostly Hong Kong Chinese and a sizeable amount of expats with the main languages of Cantonese and English. Even the street style is a hybrid with trendsetters cherry-picking the best overseas trends and designers and giving them a Hong Kong feel.
Travellers to Hong Kong can expect a truly thrilling international city with surprising natural attributes outside the confines of the concrete jungle (Hong Kongcrete). Hong Kong Island is the main part of the territory (and the original British settlement) with Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, Lantau Island and the Outlying Islands all part of the greater Hong Kong.
While there are obviously ties to China in a national and economic sense, Hong Kong is very much its own destination with a definite city versus country mentality when it comes to the SAR and the ‘Mainland’. Hong Kong maintains a capitalist economy, one of the four largest financial centres in the world in fact, and enjoys democratic freedoms not extended to socialist China. So, while ‘Honkers’ is now a colony of China instead of Britain, little has changed and Hong Kong remains Asia’s most global city.