A Little About Exotic Hong Kong - Homebase of Sam's Exotic Travels
Lying at the southeastern tip of China, Hong Kong adjoins the province of Guangdong (Canton). The total land area of Hong Kong is 1,078 square kilometers, the New Territories, including 235 outlying islands that make up the largest part of this (955 square kilometers), whereas Hong Kong Island is only 77.5 square kilometers large and Kowloon, the peninsula north of Hong Kong Island, only 45.5 square kilometers. The terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes. The highest mountain is Tai Mo Shan in the New Territories with 958 m altitude.
Hong Kong, especially Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world; with almost 7 million inhabitants. 95 percent of the population is Chinese and Cantonese is the most widely spoken Chinese dialect. Hong Kong has an outstanding natural deep water harbour, and much its present wealth come from trading. It is still an important international trading post and one of the world's largest financial centers.
Hong Kong was "founded" in 1841 by British after its Navy defeated China as an aftermath of China's expulsion of British merchants from Canton in what is known as the First Opium War. If you are interested in this period, James Clavell's novel Tai-Pan, provides an entertaining account of Hong Kong's founding and is fairly true to historical events.
Hong Kong stayed under British control until 1 July 1997, when the former colony was handed back to China. Hong Kong is now part of China's "One Country, Two System" government. While China now controls Hong Kong, the city/state retains many of the freedoms gained under British rule, including the right of peaceful protest and freedom of the press. In 2004, almost 500,000 people took the street on July 1 (holiday for the day China took control) for the second straight year demanding more democracy. Large crowds also marched and held a candlelight vigil in memory of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on 4 Jun 1989. Click to view pictures. Other demonstrations have also been documented, including the March of the Yellow Umbrellas – Hong Kong 8 Oct 07 and the Protest March of 1 Jul '06 (color) and in Black & White
Hong Kong is divided into four main areas - Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories are on a peninsula of the Chinese mainland, on the northern side of Victoria Harbour; Hong Kong Island is on the southern side of the harbour facing Kowloon; the Outlying Islands simply refers to any of the other 234 islands. The New Territories has a 20km (12mi) land border with China proper.
Of Hong Kong’s 1,100 square kilometers, the majority of its population is confined to an intensely developed 184-square-kilometer urban area largely concentrated on the Kowloon peninsula and the northern periphery of Hong Kong Island. The remainder of the territory, however, is rural with over twice the urban area devoted to country parks and conservation areas.
Public transportation is excellent. Train service provided by the MTR between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and the KCR between Kowloon and the New Territories (continuing on into mainland China) is so good that few people (including me) drive. In addition to the train, which also runs an airport express, there are extensive bus and minibus throughout Hong Kong, and streetcars (trams) are popular in the Central District of Hong Kong, as well as regular ferry services between the outlying islands, Macau and mainland China. While trains and train stations are modern, the streetcars and many sides of buses are moving billboards and are quite interesting, as the following pictures demonstrate . Check it out.
Government policies have met some success in preserving and expanding the territory’s scrub forest, grasslands, wetlands and woodlands that harbor 2,900 species of vascular plants, 300 varieties of birds, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles and 230 different kinds of butterfly. Much of the territory that makes up Hong Kong consist of rugged mountains which have not been developed, and hiking trails abound.
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