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 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 defence affairs for the next 50 years.


Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates: 22 15 N, 114 10 E
Population: 7,153,519 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 11.6% (male 431,728/female 394,898)

15-64 years: 74.8% (male 2,573,929/female 2,757,095)

65 years and over: 13.5% (male 452,278/female 512,580) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

conventional short form: Hong Kong

local long form: XianggangTebieXingzhengqu

local short form: Xianggang

abbreviation: HK

Dependency status: special administrative region of China
Government type: limited democracy
Telephones – main lines in use:  4.345 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 13.416 million (2009)
Airports: 2 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; Hong Kong garrison of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) includes elements of the PLA Ground Forces, PLA Navy, and PLA Air Force; these forces are under the direct leadership of the Central Military Commission in Beijing and under administrative control of the adjacent Guangzhou Military Region (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 1,704,090

Females age 16-49: 1,873,175 (2010 est.)


Hong Kong has a free market economy highly dependent on international trade. In 2006, the total value of goods and services trade, including the sizable share of re-exports, was equivalent to 400% of GDP. The territory has become increasingly integrated with mainland China over the past few years through trade, tourism, and financial links. The mainland has long been Hong Kong’s largest trading partner, accounting for 46% of Hong Kong’s total trade by value in 2006.


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 13.6 million in 2006, when they outnumbered visitors from all other countries combined. Hong Kong has also established itself as the premier stock market for Chinese firms seeking to list abroad. Bolstered by several successful initial public offerings in early 2007, by September 2007 mainland companies accounted for one-third of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and more than half of the Exchange’s market capitalization.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Illicit drugs: despite strenuous law enforcement efforts, faces difficult challenges in controlling transit of heroin and methamphetamine to regional and world markets; modern banking system provides conduit for money laundering; rising indigenous use of synthetic drugs, especially among young people