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Thursday 23rd May
Hong Kong Information - Page 1
Hong Kong is an island at the mouth of the Pearl River, on the south eastern coast of China and just south of the Tropic of Cancer. Its natural harbour is the reason for its importance as a trading centre in South East Asia.

Hong Kong territory consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula on the mainland opposite Hong Kong Island, the New Territories (365 square miles of the mainland) and the Outlying Islands. There are 234 islands, the largest is Lantau, the site of the new airport and the smallest are little more than rocks.

The climate is subtropical with cool winters and hot humid summers (June to September) with occasional storms. The terrain is hilly. Air pollution is sometimes a problem in the major towns.

The natural environment of Hong Kong suffered from hundreds of years of deforestation and land erosion before the pressures of development and population growth of the last 150 years.

Trees were cut down between 920 and 1279. This deforestation ruined animal habitats and as a consequence, few of the original fauna such as wild boar, porcupines, otters, shrews and bats survive. Hong Kong is rich in natural bird life with over 250 species.

In recent years measures have been taken to improve the natural environment. New standards governing sewage treatment and waste disposal are cleaning up the water and air pollution control is also improving. Almost all the land over 200m high is now protected within country parks. Much of the New Territories remains rural and a large percentage of Lantau's land is country parkland.

The earliest structure remaining in the Hong Kong territories is a 2,000 year old Han dynasty tomb in Kowloon. Walled villages and ancestral halls, along with ancient temples are preserved in the New Territories.

Some Victorian public and military buildings remain in daily use but Hong Kong is most famous for its modern commercial buildings. The Hong Kong Bank Headquarters (HSBC) designed by Sir Norman Foster and the Bank of China Tower designed by I M Pei are the two most famous new landmarks.

One aspect of construction in Hong Kong which deserves a mention is Feng Shui(wind/water beliefs) which is still an important consideration in the design of buildings. Feng Shui is the study of the harmonies of location, light, air and water and the alignment of buildings and their elements (doors, windows, etc.) to ensure good luck and harmonious living. Geomancers are employed to divine the harmonies of the site and even furniture is positioned to balance the eight elements of nature and the spirit of Yin and Yang.

The Bank of China is an example of bad feng shui. This building has many pointed corners which bring bad luck to buildings in its path. One corner pointed at Government House where Chris Patten, the last governor lived, so a tree was planted to divert the bad luck away.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. 7.2 million people live in 415 square miles (2016). Ninety-five percent are ethnic Chinese originating from the Guangdong Province.

The original population were the Tanka nomadic boat people and the Hakka people who farmed the New Territories.

The official languages in Hong Kong are English and Cantonese (a south eastern Chinese dialect originating in the Guangdong Province). Cantonese is spoken more widely than English but English is the language used in business. Mandarin has become more important since Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China.

In Hong Kong there are three main religions/ways of life: Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Hong Kong has approximately six hundred temples, monasteries and shrines which are mainly Buddhist and Taoist. The largest monasteries are the Po Lin Monastery (which has the world's largest outdoor Buddha) and the Sha Tin Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. There are also synagogues, mosques, two cathedrals and Sikh and Hindu temples

As a major international business centre with many years of history and as a key port of South East Asia, Hong Kong shows in its food and cookery the influence of many countries.

As well as the main styles of Chinese food such as Canton, Peking, Shanghai and Szechuan there is also food from the other eastern countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Restaurants serving western food and fast food from chains such as McDonald's and Pizza Hut are also popular.

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