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ABOUT HONG KONG

Photo: The Panoramic view of Hong KongHong Kong, described as a 'barren rock' over 150 years ago, has become a world-class financial, trading and business centre and, indeed, a great world city.
Hong Kong has no natural resources, except one of the finest deep-water ports in the world. A hardworking, adaptable and well-educated workforce of about 3.5 million, coupled with entrepreneurial flair, is the bedrock of Hong Kong's productivity and creativity.

Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997, after a century and a half of British administration. Under Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, the existing economic, legal and social system will be maintained for 50 years. The SAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy except in defence and foreign affairs.

Location

Positioned at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta on the coast of southern China, Hong Kong’s geographical position as a gateway between the East and West has made it an attractive centre for international trade. As a reflection of this, the heart of Asia’s world city has always been the bustling and beautiful Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong Island lies to the south of the harbour, while the Kowloon Peninsula forms its northern shores. To the north of Kowloon lies the New Territories, which stretch all the way to Mainland China. With a total area of 1 103 square kilometres, Hong Kong is also home to 262 Outlying Islands, including Lantau Island, where Hong Kong International Airport is located.

History

Hong Kong as we know it today was born when China’s Qing dynasty government was defeated in the First Opium War in 1842, when it ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain. Within 60 years, Kowloon, the New Territories and 235 Outlying Islands were also leased to Britain. However, the history of the more than 1100 square kilometres that Hong Kong now occupies predates the events of the Qing dynasty by more than a thousand years. And, as you explore the city’s colourful heritage, you’ll discover stories of powerful clans, marauding pirates and European traders. 
From its earliest days as a British colony, Hong Kong served as a centre of international trade. In the turbulent years of the early 20th century, the city’s population was bolstered by refugees, mostly from China. The arrival of immigrants in large numbers helped launch a new role for Hong Kong as a major manufacturing hub. It also brought economically stimulating energy and industry to the city’s character. In recent decades, as the economy of Mainland China has undergone a process of opening up, Hong Kong has transformed yet again – this time into a service-based economy as well as an important gateway to the world’s largest market.

Under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. This arrangement allows the city to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, including retaining its capitalist system, independent judiciary and rule of law, free trade and freedom of speech.

A look at the city’s history could give a strong impression that change is the only constant here. However, despite all its reinventions, Hong Kong’s spirit has never changed. In fact, the same energy and dynamism that turned a group of sleepy fishing villages into a crossroads of international trade is now taking Asia’s world city into the 21st century.

Population

Hong Kong's population in 2011 was 7.07 million, with an average annual growth rate of 0.6% over the previous five years.  Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with an overall density of some 6,500 people per square kilometre.  Chinese make up 91.8% of the population with the other groups floating at around 8%. The top nationalities come from Indonesia, the Philippines, and the USA.

Language

Hong Kong can mostly thank its colonial history and international harbour for the rich blend of cultures that give it its unique character. While the majority of the city’s population are Chinese speakers, simply walking the streets will expose you to a medley of Asian and European languages.

Chinese
Cantonese, a minority dialect of Mainland China, is spoken by 88 per cent of people in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, other Chinese dialects, such as Hakka, Taishanese and Teochiu are also present, as is Mandarin of course – China’s official dialect, which has become more widely spoken in Hong Kong since the reunification in 1997.

English
From Hong Kong’s establishment as a colonial port, through its period as a manufacturing hub, and up until its current role as an international financial centre, the city’s population has always looked outwards. As a result, English is widely spoken. Today, it is the language of preference in the government, business and tourism sectors. All official signs and public transport announcements, as well as most menus, are bilingual. Visitors can expect to encounter minimal problems communicating in English as most taxi drivers, salespeople, tourism industry employees and police have reached competent levels of the language. In fact, many locals even pepper their Chinese speech with English words and phrases.

Multiculturalism
The comfort with which these languages and dialects co-exist reflects the high level of cultural tolerance in Hong Kong, where multiple denominations of Christian churches share space with Chinese joss houses; Buddhist, Taoist and Sikh temples; mosques and synagogues. Moreover, the presence of enduring and ancient cultures in a society that has had to constantly adapt to change has created a unique contemporary culture that is a true mixture of tradition and innovation. Hong Kong is where you’ll see elderly men playing ancient Chinese board games on digital tablets, where Christmas is celebrated with as much fervour as Chinese New Year, and where state-of-the-art skyscrapers are designed in consultation with feng shui masters.

Climate

Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November. You can find detailed information about current and seasonal weather on the Hong Kong Observatory website.

Spring

 

Spring (March to May)
Temperature and humidity are rising. Evenings can be cool.
Average Temperature: 17oC – 26 oC

Summer

 

Summer (June to August)
Hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter.
Average Temperature: 26oC – 31 oC

Autumn

 

Autumn (September to November)
There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to visit Hong Kong.
Average Temperature: 19oC – 28 oC

Winter

 

Winter (December to February)
Cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas.
Average Temperature: 12oC – 20 oC

Education

Pre-school Education
Pre-school Education in Hong Kong is separated into Child Care Centre and Kindergarten.  Child Care Centre provides nursery service for parents of children below the age of 3.  Kindergarten education is offered to children in the 3-5 age group in private kindergartens which are run by voluntary organizations or private bodies. These kindergartens are registered with, and supervised by the Education Bureau (EDB).  Existing government assistance to kindergartens includes rent, rates and government rent reimbursement to non-profit-making kindergartens, allocating purpose-built kindergarten premises in public housing estates, the remission of fees to needy parents through the Kindergarten and Child Care Centre Fee Remission Scheme and provision of training programmes for teachers and principals. The Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme, introduced in the 2007/08 school year, provides direct fee subsidy for parents to meet school fees for preprimary education of their children and financial support for kindergarten teachers’ professional upgrading. In view of the curriculum reform and changes in the learning and teaching culture, the EDB has implemented the revised ‘Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum’ since September 2007, providing the basic principles and direction for pre-school educators to develop their schoolbased programmes.

Primary and Secondary Education
Every child in Hong Kong, without any reasonable excuse, is required by law to attend a primary school after the child has attained the age of 6 years. It is also required to attend a secondary school after primary education and is completed before he attains the age of 19 years.  Education in the public sector is free. 
Children receive primary education usually from the age of 6 until 12. Six subjects are studied, including English, Chinese, mathematics, General Studies, music, visual arts and physical education. At schools with religious affiliations, religious education or bible studies may be studied as well.
Secondary education is separated into junior and senior years. In junior years, the curriculum is a broad one where history, geography and science are studied alongside subjects that have already been studied at primary schools. In senior years, this becomes more selective and students have a choice over what and how much is to be studied.
International institutions provide both primary and secondary education in Hong Kong. International institutions teach with English as the primary language, with some sections bilingual in German, French and Chinese. International school students rarely take Hong Kong public exams. British students take GCSE, IGCSE and A-levels. US students take APs. Increasingly, international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) program, and enter universities through non-JUPAS direct entry. International students apply on a per school basis, whereas Hong Kong local students submit 1 application for multiple local universities as a JUPAS applicant.

Higher Education
Higher Education in Hong Kong means any education higher than secondary education, including professional, technical, and academic. It is the highest level of education in Hong Kong, regulated under the Hong Kong Law.

 

References

  1. Hong Kong Tourism Board
  2. Demographics of Hong Kong from Wikipedia
  3. Education in Hong Kong from Wikipedia

 

     
 
 
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