The History of Hong Kong, a business port located off the southeast coast of Eurasia. Archaeological findings suggest that the region has been inhabited since the Old Stone Age, and later with its incorporation into the Chinese empire during the Qin dynasty (221206 BC). Starting out as a farming fishing village and salt production site, Hong Kong later evolved into an important free port and eventually a major international financial centre.
Hong Kong (Chinese: , Cantonese: [h.k]), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in East Asia, south of the mainland Chinese province of Guangdong, and east of the special administrative region of Macau. With over 7.3 million Hongkongers of various nationalities[note 1] in a territory of 1,104 km2, Hong Kong is the fourth-most densely populated region in the world.
Hong Kong was formerly a colony of the British Empire, after the perpetual cession of Hong Kong Island from Qing China at the conclusion of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain acquired a 99-year lease of the New Territories starting in 1898. The Empire of Japan attacked the city as part of a greater offensive against the Allied Powers at the start of the Pacific War and held it under military occupation for the duration of the war, until the British resumed control of the colony in 1945. The entire territory, including ceded areas, was returned to China under the framework of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed by the United Kingdom and China in 1984 and marked with the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong at the end of the New Territories lease in 1997, when it became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.
Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong maintains a separate political and economic system apart from China. Except in military defence and foreign affairs, Hong Kong retains independent executive, legislative, and judiciary powers. Nevertheless, the territory does directly develop relations with foreign states and international organizations in a broad range of "appropriate fields", being actively and independently involved in institutions such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organization.
Hong Kong is one of the most significant global financial centres, holding the highest Financial Development Index score and consistently ranking as the most competitive and freest economic area in the world. As the world's seventh-largest trading entity, its legal tender, the Hong Kong dollar, is the 13th-most traded currency. Hong Kong's tertiary sector dominated economy is characterised by competitive simple taxation and supported by its independent judiciary system. Although the city boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it suffers from severe income inequality.
The territory features the most skyscrapers in the world, surrounding Victoria Harbour, which lies in the centre of the city's dense urban region. It has a very high Human Development Index ranking and the world's longest life expectancy. Over 90% of its population makes use of well-developed public transportation. Along with Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and several other major cities in Guangdong, Hong Kong forms a core part of the Pearl River Delta metropolitan region, one of the most populated areas in the world. Seasonal air pollution originating from neighbouring industrial areas of mainland China, which adopts loose emissions standards, has resulted in a high level of atmospheric particulates in winter.