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Hong Kong - Overview

by Amanda O

Hong Kong is one of the most popular destinations in the world for Asians and Westerners alike. It currently has a population of 7 million people with 95% of them being Chinese. The legal currency is the Hong Kong Dollar (HK$) and this is separate from China’s currency. Cantonese is the official dialect that is spoken in the Guangdong province and is the central language. However, Mandarin is also very important. English is also popular and you are likely to find it spoken in business areas, main tourist areas, and in large hotels. Signs are generally in both English and Chinese.

Hong Kong is 8 hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). Hong Kong does not recognize Daylight Savings Time. The dialing code for the country is +852. The metric system is the official system used, but you might also find other systems such as the Chinese and imperial measurement systems.

Hong Kong’s climate is a sub-tropical one. The summer can be long, hot, and humid. At their peak, temperatures can reach as high as 35C (95F) with humidity reaching 100%. Winters, on the other hand, can be very cold and cloudy with only a few hours of sunshine. Both fall and spring can be pleasant in terms of temperature but can also see rain storms. Black rainstorms and typhoons can be seen from May until October.

Hong Kong itself is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. Located on China’s south coast, it is bordered by the South China Sea and the Pearl River Delta. It is 60 km (37 miles) east of Macau and borders the Guangdong city of Shenzhen on the north. It has a world famous modern skyline and a deep harbor, thanks to its watery borders. The land mass is 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) with such a large population, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Chinese majority of the population comes from Taishan and Guangzhou, located in the nearby Guangdong province.

A lot of Hong Kong's terrain is hilly and mountainous and has steep slopes. As of now, less than 25% of its landmass is developed. Although Hong Kong Island is a densely populated area and a large, major city, there are actually many parks and natural areas throughout Hong Kong. In fact, around 40% of the land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves. The majority of the development is on Kowloon peninsula and in settlements throughout the New Territories. There are many beaches, bays, and rivers thanks to Hong Kong’s coast and the Hong Kong National Geopark is one of UNESCO’s Global Geopark Network.

The territory itself consists of Hong Kong Island, the New Territories, the Kowloon Peninsula, and more than 200 offshore, our outlying, islands. The biggest of these is Lantau Island which is where both Disneyland Hong Kong and the airport are located. Within these areas, there are further divisions in terms of neighborhoods. For instance, on Hong Kong Island you can find it divided into the Central & Western, Wan Chai, Eastern and Southern districts. There are also the Lan Kwai Fong and Soho neighborhoods.

In Kowloon, neighborhoods include Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mongkok. There are many museums, shopping malls, and restaurants in Kowloon and the waterfront area of Tsim Sha Tsui is a popular place.

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