Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is a territory located on China's south coast on the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east, west and south. It has a population of 6.9 million people, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Beginning as a trading port, Hong Kong became a dependent territory of the United Kingdom in 1842, and remained so until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997. Along with Macau, Hong Kong is one of two special administrative regions and is not considered part of mainland China. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy, is largely self-governing,and maintains a highly capitalist economy.
Hong Kong is subdivided into 18 geographic districts for administrative purposes, each represented by a district council that advises the government on local matters such as public facilities, community programmes, cultural activities and environmental improvements. There are a total of 534 district councils seats, 405 of which are elected, while the rest are appointed by the Chief Executive and 27 ex officio chairmen of rural committees.The government's Home Affairs Department communicates government policies and plans to the public through the district offices.
The 18 districts can be split into three areas, often used for statistical purposes. Hong Kong Island is the original 1842 colony, and contains Hong Kong's financial core on its northern coast. Kowloon is to the north across Victoria Harbour, the southern part of which was ceded in 1860. The much larger New Territories was the final addition to Hong Kong's territory in 1898.
About 95% of Hong Kong's population is of Chinese descent, the majority of which is Cantonese or from ethnic groups such as Hakka and Teochew. The remaining 5% of the population is composed of non-ethnic Chinese forming a highly visible group despite their smaller numbers. A South Asian population of Sindhis, Indians, Pakistanis and Nepalese are found. Vietnamese refugees have become permanent residents of Hong Kong. An increasing number of domestic workers also originate from Indonesia. There are also a number of Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans working in Hong Kong's commercial and financial sector.
Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where East meets West, reflecting the culture's mix of the territory's Chinese roots with the culture brought to it during its time as a British colony. Although over a decade has passed since the handover, Western cultural practices remain, and coexist seamlessly with the traditional philosophy and practices of Chinese culture. Hong Kong still has a traditional English morris dancing team, for example, the Hong Kong Morris.
One of the more noticeable contradictions is Hong Kong's balancing of a modernised way of life with traditional superstitious Chinese practices. Concepts like Fung shui are taken very seriously, with expensive construction projects often hiring expert consultants, and are often believed to make or break a business. Other objects like bagua mirrors are still regularly used to deflect evil spirits, and buildings often lack any floor number that has a 4 in it, due to its similarity to the word for "die" in the Chinese language. The fusion of east and west also characterises Hong Kong's cuisine, where dim sum or da been lo restaurants can be found next to fast food joints.
While Hong Kong is a recognised global centre of trade, its most famous export is its entertainment industry, particularly in the martial arts genre which gained a high level of popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s. Several Hollywood performers have originated from Hong Kong cinema, notably Bruce Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, and Jackie Chan. A number of Hong Kong film-makers have also achieved widespread fame in Hollywood, such as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai and Tsui Hark. Homegrown films such as Chungking Express, Infernal Affairs, Shaolin Soccer, Rumble in the Bronx, and In the Mood for Love have gained international recognition. Hong Kong is also the world's main centre for Cantopop music, which draws its influence from other forms of Chinese music, and more international styles including jazz, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, electronic music, western pop music and others, and has a multinational fanbase.
Hong Kong has a highly developed transportation network, encompassing both public and private transport. Over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport, making it the highest percentage in the world. The Octopus card, a stored value smart card payment system, can be used to pay for fares on almost all railways, buses and ferries, and also for car parks and parking meters.