Hong Kong Island became a British colony when it was ceded from China in 1842. Prior to this the island had been a sparsely populated fishing community whose ports were used by the British to export tea, silk and porcelain to England. At this time China accepted silver bullion as payment for goods. At the start of the 1800s, however, Britain realized that they could purchase goods in exchange for opium. China outlawed the drug but many were already addicted causing the Chinese economy to suffer greatly. Striking back the Chinese publicly destroyed a British ship that was carrying a consignment of opium. This marked the beginning of the Opium Wars and in January 1841 the British navy claimed Hong Kong island. The wars finally ended in 1898 but not before Britain had executed a ninety-nine year lease on the New Territories.
Yet, despite being under British rule for a century and a half, Hong Kong has always remained a Chinese city. With 98% of the population of seven million being Chinese it is understandable that this should be the case but when you consider the amount of upheaval that the natives have gone through in recent years, it is admirable that they have preserved their culture so whole heartedly.
Furthermore, ideally positioned at the centre of East Asia, Hong Kong is currently the fastest growing region in the world. It is now a world-class financial, trading and business centre and is the world’s eighth largest trading economy and the tenth largest exporter of services. It has also played a significant role in global politics for the duration of its time under British rule.
For the visitor, Hong Kong is a fascinating place offering a mix of sights and sounds that no other place on earth could begin to rival. All that’s left for you to do is explore and immerse yourself in the unique way of life which the region has to offer.