Hong Kong

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Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. In this agreement, China promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system would not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the subsequent 50 years.



Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China

Geographic coordinates

22.15° N, 114.10° E

Area 184/257

total: 1,108 sq km

land: 1,073 sq km

water: 35 sq km

Area - comparative

six times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 33 km

regional border: China 33 km


733 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm


subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall


hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m

highest point: Tai Mo Shan 958 m

Natural resources

outstanding deepwater harbor, feldspar

Land use

agricultural land: 5%

arable land 3.2%; permanent crops 0.9%; permanent pasture 0.9%

forest: 0%

other: 95% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

occasional typhoons

Environment - current issues

air and water pollution from rapid urbanization

Environment - international agreements

party to: Marine Dumping (associate member), Ship Pollution (associate member)

Geography - note

composed of more than 200 islands

People and Society


noun: Chinese/Hong Konger

adjective: Chinese/Hong Kong

Ethnic groups

Chinese 93.1%, Indonesian 1.9%, Filipino 1.9%, other 3% (2011 est.)


Cantonese (official) 89.5%, English (official) 3.5%, Putonghua (Mandarin) 1.4%, other Chinese dialects 4%, other 1.6% (2011 est.)


eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%

Population 103/238

7,141,106 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 12.11% (male 458,458/female 406,506)

15-24 years: 11.13% (male 410,701/female 383,902)

25-54 years: 46.16% (male 1,408,524/female 1,887,927)

55-64 years: 15.26% (male 531,684/female 557,904)

65 years and over: 15.34% (male 516,255/female 579,245) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 37%

youth dependency ratio: 16.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 20.6%

potential support ratio: 4.8% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 43.6 years

male: 43 years

female: 44 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 166/233

0.38% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 206/224

9.23 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 131/225

7.07 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 55/222

1.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 100% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.74% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Hong Kong 7.26 million (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.13 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.75 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

29.8 (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate 215/224

total: 2.73 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 2.96 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 2.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 7/224

total population: 82.86 years

male: 80.24 years

female: 85.78 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 221/224

1.18 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

79.5% (2007)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Education expenditures 124/173

3.8% of GDP (2013)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 16 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 106/134

total: 9.4%

male: 11.3%

female: 7.8% (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

conventional short form: Hong Kong

local long form: Heung Kong Takpit Hangching Ku (Eitel/Dyer-Ball); Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu (Hanyu Pinyin)

local short form: Heung Kong (Eitel/Dyer-Ball); Xianggang (Hanyu Pinyin)

abbreviation: HK

etymology: probably an imprecise phonetic rendering of the Cantonese name meaning "fragrant harbor"

Government type

limited democracy

Administrative divisions

none (special administrative region of China)


none (special administrative region of China)

National holiday

National Day (Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October (1949); note - 1 July 1997 is celebrated as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day


several previous (governance documents while under British authority); latest drafted April 1988 to February 1989, approved March 1990, effective 1 July 1997 (Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China serves as the constitution); note - since 1990, China's National People's Congress has interpreted specific articles of the Basic Law (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of common law based on the English model and Chinese customary law (in matters of family and land tenure)


see China


18 years of age in direct elections for half the legislature and a majority of seats in 18 district councils; universal for permanent residents living in the territory of Hong Kong for the past seven years; note - in indirect elections, suffrage is limited to about 220,000 members of functional constituencies for the other half of the legislature and a 1,200-member election committee for the chief executive drawn from broad sectoral groupings, central government bodies, municipal organizations, and elected Hong Kong officials

Executive branch

chief of state: President of China XI Jinping (since 14 March 2013)

head of government: Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying [C.Y. LEUNG] (since 1 July 2012)

cabinet: Executive Council or ExCo appointed by the chief executive

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by National People's Congress for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 5-17 March 2013 (next to be held in March 2018); chief executive indirectly elected by the Election Committee and appointed by the Central People's Government for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term) ; LEUNG Chun-ying [C.Y.LEUNG] elected chief executive on 25 March 2012 and took office on 1 July 2012 (next to be held in March 2017)

election results: LEUNG Chun-ying elected chief executive; Election Committee vote - LEUNG Chun-ying 689, Henry TANG 285, Albert HO 76

note: the Legislative Council voted in June 2010 to expand the electoral committee to 1,200 seats for the 2012 election

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Council or LegCo (70 seats; members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by several majority vote methods based on the rules of the individual constituencies; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 9 September 2012 (next to be held in September 2016)

election results: percent of vote by block - pro-democracy 56.2%; pro-Beijing 42.7%, independent 3.2%; seats by block/party - pro-Beijing 43 (DAB 13, BPA 7, FTU 6, Liberal Party 5, NPP 2, other 10); pro-democracy 27 (Democratic Party 6, Civic Party 6, Labor Party 4, PP 3, Professional Commons 2, LSD 1, ADPL 1, PTU 1, Neo Democrats 1, NWSC 1); independent 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Final Appeal (consists of the chief justice, 3 permanent judges and 20 non-permanent judges); note - a sitting bench consists of the chief justice and 3 permanent and 1 non-permanent judges

judge selection and term of office: all judges appointed by the Hong Kong Chief Executive upon the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission, an independent body consisting of the Secretary for Justice and other judges, judicial and legal professionals; permanent judges appointed until normal retirement at age 65, but can be extended; non-permanent judges appointed for renewable 3-year terms without age limit

subordinate courts: High Court (consists of the Court of Appeal and Court of First Instance); District Courts (includes Family and Land Courts); magistrates' courts; specialized tribunals

Political parties and leaders


Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood or ADPL [Bruce LIU Sing-lee]

Business and Professional Alliance or BPA [Andrew LEUNG Kwan-yuen]

Civic Party [Audrey EU]

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong or DAB [Starry LEE Wai-king]

Democratic Party [Emily LAU]

Federation of Trade Unions or FTU [Stanley NG Chau-pei]

Labor Party [LEE Cheuk-yan]

League of Social Democrats or LSD [LEUNG Kwok-hung]

Liberal Party [Felix CHUNG Kwok-pan]

Neighborhood and Workers Service Center or NWSC [LEUNG Yui-chung]

Neo Democrats [collective leadership]

New People's Party or NPP [Regina IP Lau Su-yee]

People Power or PP [Erica YUEN Mi-ming]

Professional Commons (think tank) [Charles Peter MOK]

Professional Teachers Union or PTU


Confederation of Trade Unions or CTU [LEE Cheuk-yan]

note: political blocks include: pro-democracy - ADPL, Civic Party, Democratic Party, Labor Party, LSD, PP, Professional Commons; pro-Beijing - DAB, FTU, Liberal Party, NPP, BPA; there is no political party ordinance, so there are no registered political parties; politically active groups register as societies or companies

Political pressure groups and leaders

Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (pro-China)

Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong

Civic Act-up [Cyd HO Sau-lan, Legislative Council of Hong Kong member] (pro-democracy)

Federation of Hong Kong Industries

Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China [LEE Cheuk-yan, chairman]

Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Union Council (pro-Taiwan)

Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union [FUNG Wai-wah, president]

International organization participation

ADB, APEC, BIS, FATF, ICC (national committees), IHO, IMF, IMO (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITUC (NGOs), UNWTO (associate), UPU, WCO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

red with a stylized, white, five-petal Bauhinia flower in the center; each petal contains a small, red, five-pointed star in its middle; the red color is the same as that on the Chinese flag and represents the motherland; the fragrant Bauhinia - developed in Hong Kong the late 19th century - has come to symbolize the region; the five stars echo those on the flag of China

National symbol(s)

orchid tree flower; national colors: red, white

National anthem

note: as a Special Administrative Region of China, "Yiyongjun Jinxingqu" is the official anthem (see China)


Economy - overview

Hong Kong has a free market economy, highly dependent on international trade and finance - the value of goods and services trade, including the sizable share of re-exports, is about four times GDP. Hong Kong has no tariffs on imported goods, and it levies excise duties on only four commodities, whether imported or produced locally: hard alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol. There are no quotas or dumping laws.

Hong Kong's open economy left it exposed to the global economic slowdown that began in 2008. Although increasing integration with China, through trade, tourism, and financial links, helped it to make an initial recovery more quickly than many observers anticipated, its continued reliance on foreign trade and investment leaves it vulnerable to renewed global financial market volatility or a slowdown in the global economy.

The Hong Kong government is promoting the Special Administrative Region (SAR) as the site for Chinese renminbi (RMB) internationalization. Hong Kong residents are allowed to establish RMB-denominated savings accounts; RMB-denominated corporate and Chinese government bonds have been issued in Hong Kong; and RMB trade settlement is allowed. The territory far exceeded the RMB conversion quota set by Beijing for trade settlements in 2010 due to the growth of earnings from exports to the mainland. RMB deposits grew to roughly 12.5% of total system deposits in Hong Kong by the end of 2014. The government is pursuing efforts to introduce additional use of RMB in Hong Kong financial markets and is seeking to expand the RMB quota.

The mainland has long been Hong Kong's largest trading partner, accounting for about half of Hong Kong's total trade by value. Hong Kong's natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. As a result of China's easing of travel restrictions, the number of mainland tourists to the territory has surged from 4.5 million in 2001 to 47.3 million in 2014, outnumbering visitors from all other countries combined. Hong Kong has also established itself as the premier stock market for Chinese firms seeking to list abroad. In 2014 mainland Chinese companies constituted about 50% of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and accounted for about 60.1% of the Exchange's market capitalization. During the past decade, as Hong Kong's manufacturing industry moved to the mainland, its service industry has grown rapidly. In 2014, Hong Kong and China signed a new agreement on achieving basic liberalization of trade in services in Guangdong Province under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, adopted in 2003 to forge closer ties between Hong Kong and the mainland. The new measures, effective from March 2015, cover a negative list and a most-favored treatment provision, and will improve access to the mainland's service sector for Hong Kong-based companies.

Credit expansion and tight housing supply conditions have caused Hong Kong property prices to rise rapidly; consumer prices increased 4.4% in 2014, but slowed to 2.9% in 2015. Lower and middle income segments of the population are increasingly unable to afford adequate housing. Hong Kong continues to link its currency closely to the US dollar, maintaining an arrangement established in 1983.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 45/230

$414.5 billion (2015 est.)

$404.3 billion (2014 est.)

$394.4 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$307.8 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 124/225

2.5% (2015 est.)

2.5% (2014 est.)

3.1% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 17/230

$57,000 (2015 est.)

$55,600 (2014 est.)

$54,300 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 47/179

25.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

25.9% of GDP (2014 est.)

25.5% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 65.7%

government consumption: 9.5%

investment in fixed capital: 22.9%

investment in inventories: 0.2%

exports of goods and services: 201.6%

imports of goods and services: -199.9%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.1%

industry: 7.2%

services: 92.8% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

fresh vegetables and fruit; poultry, pork; fish


textiles, clothing, tourism, banking, shipping, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks

Industrial production growth rate 140/202

1.2% (2015 est.)

Labor force 93/233

3.883 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

manufacturing: 3.8%

construction: 2.8%

wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels: 53.3%

financing, insurance, and real estate: 12.5%

transport and communications: 10.1%

community and social services: 17.1%

note: above data exclude public sector (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate 21/207

2.9% (2015 est.)

3.2% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

19.6% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index 12/144

53.7 (2011)

53.3 (2007)


revenues: $63.72 billion

expenditures: $62.7 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 152/219

20.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 22/220

0.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 114/176

39.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

39.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 135/226

2.9% (2015 est.)

4.4% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 129/156

0.5% (31 December 2013)

0.5% (31 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 146/184

5.1% (31 December 2015 est.)

5% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 18/192

$252.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$220.3 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 12/193

$1.576 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.42 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 19/191

$749.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$687.7 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 5/121

$3.082 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

$2.814 trillion (31 December 2012)

$2.248 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance 26/197

$6.782 billion (2015 est.)

$5.439 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 8/224

$499.4 billion (2015 est.)

$519.3 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

electrical machinery and appliances, textiles, apparel, footwear, watches and clocks, toys, plastics, precious stones, printed material

Exports - partners

China 53.9%, US 9.3% (2014)

Imports 8/223

$524.3 billion (2015 est.)

$549.5 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

raw materials and semi-manufactures, consumer goods, capital goods, foodstuffs, fuel (most is reexported)

Imports - partners

China 47.1%, Japan 6.9%, Singapore 6.2%, US 5.2%, South Korea 4.2% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 11/170

$341.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$328.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 17/206

$1.29 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$1.161 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 3/120

$1.838 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.686 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 5/105

$1.72 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.597 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

Hong Kong dollars (HKD) per US dollar -

7.76 (2015 est.)

7.75 (2014 est.)

7.75 (2013 est.)

7.76 (2012 est.)

7.78 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 58/220

39.97 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - consumption 53/219

44.21 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - exports 48/218

1.65 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 19/219

10.71 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 55/214

10.67 million kW (2013 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 14/214

100% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 108/214

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 178/214

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 183/212

0% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)

Crude oil - production 147/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 136/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 204/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 146/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 194/214

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 38/212

360,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 83/214

12,010 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 18/213

345,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production 201/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 77/215

2.743 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 115/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 44/214

2.743 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 150/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 43/212

88.63 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 36/219

total subscriptions: 4.43 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 62 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 60/217

total: 17.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 244 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern facilities provide excellent domestic and international services

domestic: microwave radio relay links and extensive fiber-optic network

international: country code - 852; multiple international submarine cables provide connections to Asia, US, Australia, the Middle East, and Western Europe; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Pacific Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean); coaxial cable to Guangzhou, China (2012)

Broadcast media

2 commercial terrestrial TV networks each with multiple stations; multi-channel satellite and cable TV systems available; 3 radio networks, one of which is government funded, operate about 15 radio stations (2012)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 6, FM 10, shortwave 0 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

2 (2 TV networks, each broadcasting on 2 channels) (2009)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 48/232

870,041 (2012)

Internet users 61/217

total: 5.6 million

percent of population: 79.2% (2014 est.)


Airports 201/236

2 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)


9 (2013)

Roadways 175/223

total: 2,099 km

paved: 2,099 km (2014)

Merchant marine 5/156

total: 1,644

by type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 785, cargo 198, carrier 10, chemical tanker 149, container 288, liquefied gas 31, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 156, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 7

foreign-owned: 976 (Bangladesh 1, Belgium 26, Bermuda 20, Canada 77, China 500, Cyprus 3, Denmark 42, France 4, Germany 10, Greece 27, Indonesia 10, Iran 3, Japan 79, Libya 1, Norway 48, Russia 1, Singapore 13, South Korea 3, Switzerland 5, Taiwan 25, UAE 1, UK 33, US 44)

registered in other countries: 341 (Bahamas 3, Bermuda 4, Cambodia 10, China 18, Curacao 1, Cyprus 2, Georgia 3, India 2, Kiribati 2, Liberia 48, Malaysia 8, Malta 4, Marshall Islands 3, NZ 1, Panama 144, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5, Seychelles 1, Sierra Leone 7, Singapore 46, Thailand 1, UK 12, unknown 16) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Hong Kong

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular indigenous military forces; Hong Kong garrison of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) includes elements of the PLA Ground Forces, PLA Navy, and PLA Air Force; these forces are under the direct leadership of the Central Military Commission in Beijing and under administrative control of the adjacent Guangzhou Military Region (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Hong Kong plans to reduce its 2,800-hectare Frontier Closed Area (FCA) to 400 hectares by 2015; the FCA was established in 1951 as a buffer zone between Hong Kong and mainland China to prevent illegal migration from and the smuggling of goods

Illicit drugs

despite strenuous law enforcement efforts, faces difficult challenges in controlling transit of heroin and methamphetamine to regional and world markets; modern banking system provides conduit for money laundering; rising indigenous use of synthetic drugs, especially among young people