History of Hong Kong


Hong Kong has been around from prehistory (Palaeolithic artefacts have been found in the Wong Tai Sin area of Hong Kong would make this one of the oldest settlements in the country as well as other Neolithic findings, through to Bronze age artefacts found on Lantau, Chek Lap Kok and Lamma islands), although it is only relatively recently (during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) that settlers came en mass from mainland China. Close on their heels were people from the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) who added to the rich legacy both from their predecessors and the native people who had been there for centuries. From 221 BC till 1842, Hong Kong was under Imperial China and western influence did not come about until the 15th century as trade was starting off with silk and tea through the Silk Road. The British started to dominate trades in this region of Southern China in the region of Guangzhou (Canton). The rules from the Chinese emperor were quite strict for the British East India Company located in Guangzhou. But the British took more and more influence by selling opium to the region and in the beginning of the 19th century opium was a huge success. In 1839, Lin Zexu was commissioned by the Emperor to end the drug trade. This started the First Opium War between Britain and China and it ended when Hong Kong was given to the British under the Convention of Chuen Pi on the 26th of January 1841 and the Union Jack flag was raised at Possession Point on Hong Kong Island. Sir Henry Pottinger was the first governor of Hong Kong and made sure that this island would have a great future as he understood very quickly the great potential of Hong Kong for trade. It then became one of the greatest port cities in the world. Later on, the British took over the New Territories and were part of Hong Kong since nowadays.

After the start of the British domination in Hong Kong, many companies transferred their companies from Guangzhou to Hong Kong which did not help relations between Britain and China and led to the Second Opium War. During the 1940s and the Second World War, Hong Kong was invaded by Japan from the 25th of December 1941, (since known as the Black Christmas), until the 15th of August of 1945. Under the Japanese occupation, Hong Kong and its population suffered greatly and when it was eventually liberated by the British and the Chinese troops, the population was cut in half from 1.6 million before the war down to 600 000. Luckily for Hong Kong when China became communist in 1949 the island had a large population of immigrants from mainland China. After that, during the 1950s, Hong Kong undertook an economic growth and expansion and started to manufacture products and not just be an international trade port. In the 1970s with the rise of China, Hong Kong had to diversify its activities and tourism became a big business there. In the meantime, Hong Kong was preparing for its future by investing in education.

In 1982, the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was preparing the hand-over of Hong Kong to China which was inevitable but they agreed that it would be one country with 2 systems. The handover happened on the first of July 1997 and again during this period, a massive emigration took place so that people wouldn’t come under the communist China influence. The handover did not change fundamentally the way Hong Kong is administrated apart from some symbolic changes like the word ‘Royal’ has been dropped for most institutions and the post boxes are now green rather than red.

Since the handover and within the years 2000s, people in Hong Kong have actually adapted and life goes on. The business there is still flourishing and the island still remains a pearl to discover in South-East Asia.

Update 9/04/2010

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