Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Occupied by the UK in 1841, Hong Kong was formally ceded by China the following year; various adjacent lands were added later in the 19th century. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and the UK on 19 December 1984, Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997.

In this agreement, China promised that, under its “one country, two systems” formula, China’s socialist economic system would not be imposed on Hong Kong and that Hong Kong would enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the subsequent 50 years.

Hong Kong Flag

Hong Kong Flag


Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China

Geographic coordinates:
22 15 N, 114 10 E

Map references:
Southeast Asia

total: 1,104 sq km
country comparison to the world: 184
land: 1,054 sq km
water: 50 sq km

Area – comparative:
six times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
total: 30 km
regional border: China 30 km

733 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 3 nm

subtropical monsoon; cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy from spring through summer, warm and sunny in fall


hilly to mountainous with steep slopes; lowlands in north

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Tai Mo Shan 958 m

Natural resources:
outstanding deepwater harbor, feldspar

Land use:
arable land: 5.05%
permanent crops: 1.01%
other: 93.94% (2011)

Irrigated land:
NA; note – included in the total for China

Natural hazards:

occasional typhoons

Environment – current issues:
air and water pollution from rapid urbanization

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Marine Dumping (associate member), Ship Pollution (associate member)

Geography – note:
composed of more than 200 islands

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People & Society

noun: Chinese/Hong Konger
adjective: Chinese/Hong Kong

Ethnic groups:
Chinese 93.1%, Indonesian 1.9%, Filipino 1.9%, other 3% (2011 est.)

Cantonese (official) 89.5%, English (official) 3.5%, Putonghua (Mandarin) 1.4%, other Chinese dialects 4%, other 1.6% (2011 est.)

eclectic mixture of local religions 90%, Christian 10%

7,112,688 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102

Age structure:
0-14 years: 12.1% (male 456,638/female 402,462)
15-24 years: 11.5% (male 417,300/female 398,270)
25-54 years: 46.9% (male 1,430,036/female 1,905,585)
55-64 years: 14.7% (male 517,045/female 537,290)
65 years and over: 14.4% (male 493,399/female 554,663) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 35.5 %
youth dependency ratio: 15.9 %
elderly dependency ratio: 19.6 %
potential support ratio: 5.1 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 43.2 years
male: 42.8 years
female: 43.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.41% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Birth rate:
9.38 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Death rate:
6.93 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136

Net migration rate:
1.69 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51

urban population: 100% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.04% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.13 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.75 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
29.8 (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 2.73 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 217
male: 2.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 82.78 years
country comparison to the world: 6
male: 80.18 years
female: 85.71 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.17 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 221

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
79.5% (2007)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,600 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114

Education expenditures:
3.5% of GDP (2012)
country comparison to the world: 124

definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 93.5%
male: 96.9%
female: 89.6% (2002)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 9.3%
country comparison to the world: 115
male: 10.9%
female: 7.8% (2012)

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Country name:
conventional long form: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
conventional short form: Hong Kong
official long form: Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu
official short form: Xianggang
abbreviation: HK

Dependency status:
special administrative region of China

Government type:
limited democracy

Administrative divisions:
none (special administrative region of China)
none (special administrative region of China)

National holiday:
National Day (Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China), 1 October (1949); note – 1 July 1997 is celebrated as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day

several previous (governance documents while under British authority); latest drafted April 1988 to February 1989, approved March 1990, promulgated 4 April 1990 (Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China serves as the constitution); note – since 1990, China’s National People’s Congress has interpreted specific articles of the Basic Law (2013)

Legal system:
mixed legal system of common law based on the English model and Chinese customary law (in matters of family and land tenure)

18 years of age in direct elections for half the legislature and a majority of seats in 18 district councils; universal for permanent residents living in the territory of Hong Kong for the past seven years; note – in indirect elections, suffrage is limited to about 220,000 members of functional constituencies for the other half of the legislature and an 1,200-member election committee for the chief executive drawn from broad sectoral groupings, central government bodies, municipal organizations, and elected Hong Kong officials

Executive branch:
chief of state: President of China XI Jinping (since 14 March 2013)
head of government: Chief Executive LEUNG Chun-ying [C.Y. LEUNG] (since 1 July 2012)
cabinet: Executive Council or ExCo consists of 15 official members and 14 non-official members
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: chief executive elected for five-year term by a 1,200-member election committee; on 25 March 2012 LEUNG Chun-ying [C.Y.LEUNG] was elected chief executive by a 1,193-member election committee; he took office on 1 July 2012; (next to be held in March 2017)
note: the Legislative Council voted in June 2010 to expand the electoral committee to 1,200 seats for the 2012 selection
election results: LEUNG Chun-ying was selected with 689 votes; Henry TANG received 285 votes, and Albert HO received 76 of the 1,132 votes cast; 82 ballots were deemed invalid; most were blank

Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Council or LegCo (70 seats; 35 members indirectly elected by functional constituencies, 35 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms)
note: the LegCo voted in June 2010 to expand to 70 seats for the 2012 election; the measure was approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in August 2010
elections: last held on 9 September 2012 (next to be held in September 2016)
election results: percent of vote by block – pro-democracy 56%; pro-Beijing 41%, independent 3%; seats by parties – (pro-Beijing 43) DAB 13, BPA 7, FTU 6, Liberal Party 5, NPP 2, others 10; (pro-democracy 27) Democratic Party 6, Civic Party 6, Labor Party 4, People Power 3, Professional Commons 2, League of Social Democrats 1, ADPL 1, PTU 1, Neo Democrats 1, NWSC 1; independent 2

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Court of Final Appeal (consists of the chief justice, 3 permanent judges and 20 non-permanent judges); note – a sitting bench consists of the chief justice and 3 permanent and 1 non-permanent judges
judge selection and term of office: all judges appointed by the Hong Kong Chief Executive upon the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission, an independent body consisting of the Secretary for Justice and other judges, judicial and legal professionals; permanent judges appointed until normal retirement at age 65, but can be extended; non-permanent judges appointed for renewable 3-year terms without age limit
subordinate courts: High Court (consists of the Court of Appeal and Court of First Instance); District Courts (includes Family and Land Courts); magistrates’ courts; specialized tribunals

Political parties and leaders:
Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood or ADPL [Bruce LIU Sing-lee]
Business and Professional Alliance or BPA [Andrew LEUNG]
Civic Party [EU Audrey]
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong or DAB [TAM Yiu-chung]
Democratic Party [Emily LAU]
Labor Party [LEE Cheuk-yan]
League of Social Democrats or LSD [LEUNG Kwok-hung]
Liberal Party [James TIEN]
Neo Democrats [joint leaders]
New People’s Party [Regina IP Lau Su-yee]
People Power [Erica YUEN Mi-ming]

Confederation of Trade Unions or CTU
Federation of Trade Unions or FTU
Neighborhood and Workers Service Center or NWSC
Professional Commons (think tank) [Charles Peter MOK]
Professional Teachers Union or PTU
note: political blocs include: pro-democracy – ADPL, Civic Party, Democratic Party, Labor Party, LSD, People Power, Professional Commons; pro-Beijing – DAB, FTU, Liberal Party, New People’s Party, BPA; there is no political party ordinance, so there are no registered political parties; politically active groups register as societies or companies

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (pro-China); Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong; Confederation of Trade Unions or CTU (pro-democracy) [LEE Cheuk-yan, general secretary]; Federation of Hong Kong Industries; Federation of Trade Unions or FTU (pro-China) [CHENG Yiu-tong, executive councilor]; Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China [LEE Cheuk-yan, chairman]; Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Union Council (pro-Taiwan); Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce; Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union [FUNG Wai-wah, president]; Neighborhood and Workers’ Service Center or NWSC [LEUNG Yiu-chung, LegCo member] (pro-democracy); Civic Act-up [Cyd HO Sau-lan, LegCo member] (pro-democracy)

International organization participation:
ADB, APEC, BIS, FATF, ICC (national committees), IHO, IMF, IMO (associate), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITUC (NGOs), UNWTO (associate), UPU, WCO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (Special Administrative Region of China); Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) carries out normal liaison and communication with the US Government and other US entities
commissioner: Clement C.M. LEUNG
office: 1520 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] 202 331-8947
FAX: [1] 202 331-8958
HKETO offices: New York, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Consul General Clifford A. HART Jr. (since 30 July 2013); note – also accredited to Macau
consulate(s) general: 26 Garden Road, Hong Kong
mailing address: Unit 8000, Box 1, DPO AP 96521-0006
telephone: [852] 2523-9011
FAX: [852] 2845-1598

Flag description:
red with a stylized, white, five-petal Bauhinia flower in the center; each petal contains a small, red, five-pointed star in its middle; the red color is the same as that on the Chinese flag and represents the motherland; the fragrant Bauhinia – developed in Hong Kong the late 19th century – has come to symbolize the region; the five stars echo those on the flag of China

National symbol(s):
orchid tree flower

National anthem:
note: as a Special Administrative Region of China, “Yiyongjun Jinxingqu” is the official anthem (see China)

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Economy – overview:
Hong Kong has a free market economy, highly dependent on international trade and finance – the value of goods and services trade, including the sizable share of re-exports, is about four times GDP. Hong Kong has no tariffs on imported goods, and it levies excise duties on only four commodities, whether imported or produced locally: hard alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol. There are no quotas or dumping laws. Hong Kong’s open economy left it exposed to the global economic slowdown that began in 2008. Although increasing integration with China, through trade, tourism, and financial links, helped it to make an initial recovery more quickly than many observers anticipated, its continued reliance on foreign trade and investment leaves it vulnerable to renewed global financial market volatility or a slowdown in the global economy.

The Hong Kong government is promoting the Special Administrative Region (SAR) as the site for Chinese renminbi (RMB) internationalization. Hong Kong residents are allowed to establish RMB-denominated savings accounts; RMB-denominated corporate and Chinese government bonds have been issued in Hong Kong; and RMB trade settlement is allowed. The territory far exceeded the RMB conversion quota set by Beijing for trade settlements in 2010 due to the growth of earnings from exports to the mainland. RMB deposits grew to roughly 12% of total system deposits in Hong Kong by the end of 2013. The government is pursuing efforts to introduce additional use of RMB in Hong Kong financial markets and is seeking to expand the RMB quota. The mainland has long been Hong Kong’s largest trading partner, accounting for about half of Hong Kong’s total trade by value.

Hong Kong’s natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. As a result of China’s easing of travel restrictions, the number of mainland tourists to the territory has surged from 4.5 million in 2001 to 34.9 million in 2012, outnumbering visitors from all other countries combined. Hong Kong has also established itself as the premier stock market for Chinese firms seeking to list abroad. In 2012 mainland Chinese companies constituted about 46.6% of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and accounted for about 57.4% of the Exchange’s market capitalization. During the past decade, as Hong Kong’s manufacturing industry moved to the mainland, its service industry has grown rapidly. Credit expansion and tight housing supply conditions have caused Hong Kong property prices to rise rapidly; consumer prices increased by more than 4% in 2013. Lower and middle income segments of the population are increasingly unable to afford adequate housing. Hong Kong continues to link its currency closely to the US dollar, maintaining an arrangement established in 1983.

In 2013, Hong Kong and China signed new agreements under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, adopted in 2003 to forge closer ties between Hong Kong and the mainland. The new measures, effective from January 2014, cover services and trade facilitation, and will improve access to the mainland’s service sector for Hong Kong-based companies.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$381.3 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$370.6 billion (2012 est.)
$365.1 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$272.1 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
2.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
1.5% (2012 est.)
4.8% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$52,700 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
$51,600 (2012 est.)
$51,300 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
28.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
28.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
29.7% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 66.1%
government consumption: 9.4%
investment in fixed capital: 23.7%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 230%
imports of goods and services: -229%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 0%
industry: 6.9%
services: 93% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
fresh vegetables and fruit; poultry, pork; fish

textiles, clothing, tourism, banking, shipping, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks

Industrial production growth rate:
0% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166

Labor force:
3.873 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93

Labor force – by occupation:
manufacturing: 3.8%
construction: 2.8%
wholesale and retail trade, restaurants, and hotels: 53.3%
financing, insurance, and real estate: 12.5%
transport and communications: 10.1%
community and social services: 17.1%
note: above data exclude public sector (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate:
3.1% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
3.3% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
19.6% (2012)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
53.7 (2011)
country comparison to the world: 12
53.3 (2007)

revenues: $59.33 billion
expenditures: $54.23 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
21.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
1.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20

Public debt:
35.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
37.8% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April – 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.4% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
4.1% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
0.5% (31 December 2013)
country comparison to the world: 136
0.5% (31 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
5% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
5% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$193.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
$176.6 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$1.289 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
$1.148 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$827.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
$714 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$3.082 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$2.814 trillion (31 December 2012)
$2.248 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance:
$5.614 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
$4.122 billion (2012 est.)

$456.4 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$440.3 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
electrical machinery and appliances, textiles, apparel, footwear, watches and clocks, toys, plastics, precious stones, printed material

Exports – partners:
China 57.7%, US 8.9%, Japan 4.2% (2012 est.)

$520.6 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
$501.6 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
raw materials and semi-manufactures, consumer goods, capital goods, foodstuffs, fuel (most is reexported)

Imports – partners:
China 44.5%, Japan 8%, Taiwan 6.8%, South Korea 5.5%, US 4.9% (2012 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$311.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$317.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$1.159 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 17
$1.024 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$1.502 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
$1.237 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$1.392 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$1.155 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
Hong Kong dollars (HKD) per US dollar –
7.772 (2013 est.)
7.756 (2012 est.)
7.77 (2010 est.)
7.75 (2009)
7.751 (2008)

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