Hong Kong - Statistics & Facts

Hong Kong is a city and special administrative region of China. Ruled by the British until 1997, Hong Kong retains a good deal of economic and political autonomy from Beijing. The Chinese and Western influences keep the culture and economy vibrant. At over 7.4 million people, Hong Kong is one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia. 2017's gross domestic product was recorded as 2.6 trillion Hong Kong dollars - roughly 340 billion U.S. dollars - an immensely impressive figure.

The service sector dominates the economy of Hong Kong - much of this is tourism, catering both to international and mainland Chinese tourists. Given Hong Kong's unique position as a Chinese special administrative region, many foreign investments into China use firms in the city as a conduit. Historically a port city, Hong Kong also imports and exports a high volume of products to and from a variety of trading partners.

The people of Hong Kong benefit from this economic success: Life expectancy is very high, particularly for women. Unemployment is also low and stable, only rising slightly during the financial crisis of 2009, but quickly re-stabilizing afterwards. Technology is also advanced, with faster average internet speed than most European countries, for example.

The vast majority of the population speaks Cantonese, though some speak Mandarin and other Chinese dialects at home, as well as English. This contrasts with the policy of the Beijing government to spread Mandarin to the south of China. Additionally, even the gender distribution is a reminder that Hong Kong did not follow China’s route and ignored its “One Child” policy, resulting in Hong Kong having more women than men, unlike the mainland.

Hong Kong’s special administrative status extends to social freedoms as well: For example, the Great Firewall of China, Beijing’s infamous internet censorship program, does not cover Hong Kong. As a result, most of Hong Kongese use Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, platforms which China does not normally allow. However, Beijing’s influence in municipal matters and perceived political stagnation still anger many in the city. This led to the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, a series of student-led protests catalyzed by proposed electoral reforms. The protesters are quiet now, but the episode serves to emphasize the balance between Hong Kong’s Western past and Eastern future.

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