Hong Kong, described as a 'barren rock' over 150 years ago, has become a world-class financial, trading and business centre and, indeed, a great world city.
Hong Kong has no natural resources, except one of the finest deep-water ports in the world. A hardworking, adaptable and well-educated workforce of about 3.58 million, coupled with entrepreneurial flair, is the bedrock of Hong Kong's productivity and creativity.
Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997, after a century and a half of British administration. Under Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, the existing economic, legal and social systems will be maintained for 50 years. The SAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy except in defence and foreign affairs.
Situated at the south-eastern tip of China, Hong Kong is ideally positioned at the centre of rapidly developing East Asia. With a total area of 1 104 square kilometres, it covers Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula just opposite, and the New Territories – the more rural section of Hong Kong, which also includes 262 outlying islands. [ HKSAR Map ] [ Hong Kong in its Regional Setting ]
Hong Kong's population was about 6.94 million in mid-2005. The population density was 6 420 people per square kilometre. Hong Kong had a large foreign population of about 517 560. The top three nationalities came from the Philippines (130 810), Indonesia (114 020) and Thailand (28 360).
Chinese and English are the official languages. English is widely used in the Government and by the legal, professional and business sectors. There is no shortage of well- educated competent bilingual or even trilingual professionals who speak English, Cantonese and Putonghua. These are vital staff for any enterprise trading in Hong Kong or doing business with the Mainland and Taiwan.
Hong Kong's climate is sub-tropical, tending towards the temperate for nearly half the year. Temperatures can drop below 10 degrees Celsius in winter and exceed 31 degrees Celsius in summer. About 90 per cent of the rainfall occurs between April and September. [ Hong Kong Ovservatory ]
Major International Trading Centre
Hong Kong is the world's 11th largest trading economy, the world's sixth largest foreign exchange market, the world's 15th largest banking centre, and Asia's second biggest stock market. Hong Kong is one of the world's top exporters of garments, watches and clocks, toys, games, electronic products and certain light industrial products.
Global Services Centre
Hong Kong was the world's 11th largest exporter of services in 2005. Travel and tourism, trade-related services, transportation services, financial and banking services and professional services are the main components of trade in services.
International Corporate Base
About 3 900 international corporations have established regional headquarters or offices in Hong Kong. The major types of business include the wholesale/retail and import/export trades, other business services (e.g. accounting, advertising and legal services), finance and banking, manufacturing, transport and related services.
Free Trade and Free Market
Hong Kong advocates and practises free trade – a free and liberal investment regime, the absence of trade barriers, no discrimination against overseas investors, freedom of capital movement, well-established rule of law, transparent regulations, and low and predictable taxation.
Hong Kong has a small and efficient government structure. Corporate and personal taxes are low and simple to calculate. The HKSAR Government is well known for its efficiency, transparency and fairness. It is ready to lend a helping hand to business people and companies under a long-established philosophy of 'maximum help and minimum interference' for business.
The objective of Hong Kong's monetary policy is to maintain currency stability. Given the highly externally oriented nature of the economy, this objective is further defined as a stable external value for the Hong Kong dollar in terms of a linked exchange rate against the US dollar at the rate of $7.80 to US$1. This objective is achieved through the Linked Exchange Rate System introduced in October 1983.
The Rule of Law
Hong Kong has a well-established and trusted legal system based on the common law. The rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and those living here are founded upon the impartial rule of law, an independent judiciary, a comprehensive system of legal aid, and a free and active press. [ Judiciary ]
Hong Kong is a major international and regional aviation centre. Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest in the world, is served by major international airlines that provide about 4 900 scheduled passenger services and 700 freight services weekly from Hong Kong to 139 cities worldwide. When fully developed, the airport will be able to handle up to 87 million passengers and 9 million tonnes of cargo a year. Hong Kong International Airport has been named the world's best airport from 2001 to 2005 in a survey conducted by British-based Skytrax Research.
In 2005, Hong Kong handled 22.6 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containers, making it the world's second busiest container port. The nine container terminals at Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi are under the management of five operators. Covering an area of 270 hectares, the container terminals provide 24 berths with 8 530-metre frontage. The water depth of the Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi basin is 15.5 metres and the total handling capacity of the terminals is over 18 million TEUs per year. During 2005, some 39 140 ocean-going vessels and 192 680 river trade vessels called at Hong Kong. These vessels handled 230.1 million tonnes of cargo and 21.5 million passengers. top