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Home > Hong Kong Hotels > Hong Kong The Country

Hong Kong Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations


Discount Hotels in Hong Kong : Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, Lantau Island


Hong Kong The Country – with Wired Destinations

Hong Kong covers an area of 1,095 km2 and has a population of around 6.8 million. The population density is therefore 6,210 people km2 making it one of the most crowded places in the world.

Since 1 July 1997, Hong Kong has been a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, after being a British colony from 1841. The Hong Kong government, however, enjoys a certain degree of autonomy from the rest of China. The Hong Kong Basic Law guarantees (on paper) that the territory's capitalist system and ways of life will remain unchanged until at least 2047. Under the principle of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" the territory's chief executive must be a Hong Kong citizen. The legislature consists of a mixture of appointed and elected Hong Kong residents. Hong Kong also maintains separate customs regulations, laws and tax systems from the rest of China.

The term Hong Kong is both an administrative and geographical one. For convenience, Hong Kong is divided into three sections: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Kowloon refers to the mainland area on the other side of the harbor from Hong Kong Island. The New Territories is the area between Kowloon and mainland China that was leased by Britain in 1898 for 99 years. The area includes Hong Kong's 200-odd outlying islands. The original term Hong Kong referred to Hong Kong Island only but has since come to refer to the combined Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.

A greater proportion of the population has gradually spread to the New Territories, reflecting the government's policy to develop new towns where there is much more space. Nearly 50 percent of the population is in the New Territories, 30 percent in Kowloon, and 20 percent on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong Language

Despite the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty, English remains an official language in the territory, together with Cantonese. All street signs continue to be written in both English and Chinese characters. Street names have not been changed since the handover.

English is widely spoken, since it is the language of business and commerce, though the majority of citizens are much more comfortable with Cantonese. However, you are unlikely to encounter many difficulties with communicating in English either in Hong Kong hotels or with business contacts.

The majority of the population is native Cantonese speakers. The Cantonese dialect is a harsh-sounding, guttural and tonal language that is almost impossible for most visitors to attempt without considerable prior knowledge. As a general rule, most of the younger generation can speak English, while the older generation may be less fluent in it.

Since many people have been brought up in a bilingual society, they hop from one language to another almost without realizing it. As more and more people are familiar with English, it has become easier to simply incorporate words into the language rather than attempting any complicated translations to Chinese.

Mandarin Chinese (also known as standard Chinese or putonghua) is the principal language of mainland China and is becoming more prevalent, though you will still stand more chance of being understood if you speak to a Hong Kong Chinese resident in English than in Mandarin.

At the immigration department, notices and announcements are also given in Tagalog and Thai, reflecting the increasing number of South East Asian migrant workers in the territory.

Hong Kong Media

Newspapers and Magazines

Hong Kong has a large number of newspapers and magazines, most of which are published in Chinese. Hong Kong continues to enjoy a free press despite being part of China, and the territory is noted as a media center for the region.

The most influential newspaper in Hong Kong is the daily English-language South China Morning Post. Another English daily is the Hong Kong Standard. Two of the most popular Chinese-language dailies are the rather sensationalist Oriental Daily News and the Apple Daily News.

One magazine worth looking out for is the weekly English-language HK Magazine, which is published every Friday and distributed free at most popular bars, restaurants and bookshops in the territory. It is aimed at residents but tourists who want an opinionated insider's view will find its restaurant and entertainment reviews worth a read.

Radio and Television

Over a dozen radio stations are broadcast in Hong Kong, though there is only one dedicated English-language channel now: Some other channels offer an element of programming in English. The BBC World Service is available 24 hours a day.

There are two English-language and two Chinese-language TV stations. The English-language stations show programs mainly from the UK and US. At certain times of the day, these channels broadcast programming in Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. If you are staying in a major international Hong Kong hotel, you will also have access to international satellite TV channels and the Hong Kong Channel, a special tourist information channel broadcast to the hotels only.

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