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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
is one of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the other being Macau. The territory, comprising over 260 islands, is commonly known as Hong Kong, but was often written Hongkong in older English texts. The Hong Kong Government officially changed the name of Hongkong to Hong Kong on 3 September
1926. In Chinese, it means "The Fragrant Harbor," and it has also been called "The Pearl of the Orient," "The Gateway to the East."
Hong Kong is situated on the eastern banks of the Pearl River Delta on the southeastern coast of the People's Republic of China, facing the South China Sea in the south and bordering Guangdong Province in the north. Boasting the world's most liberal economy and being a global centre of finance and trade, Hong Kong is China's richest region in terms of GDP per capita and gross metropolitan product figures.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1842 until the People's Republic of China resumed the exercise of sovereignty in 1997. It is governed as a special administrative region under the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the territory's constitution. Under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law, Hong Kong will retain a relatively high degree of autonomy until at least 2047, fifty years after the transfer of sovereignty. Under China's "One Country, Two Systems" policy, Hong Kong maintains its own legal system, currency, customs policy, cultural delegation, international sport teams, and immigration laws while the PRC represents the territory in diplomatic and military affairs.
The population of Hong Kong increased markedly during the 1990s, reaching 6.86 million in 2005. About 96% of Hong Kong's population are of Chinese descent, the majority of which are Cantonese. Groups such as the Hakka and Teochew are also substantial. Cantonese, used in government matters, is spoken by most of the local Chinese population at home and at work, although English is also widely understood, spoken and used at work by more than one-third of the population. Since the British handover to China, a new group of immigrants from mainland China have increased the ethnic diversity of the Chinese population and intensified the usage of Mandarin in the territory, in addition to the indirect effects of closer communication with mainland China, where Mandarin is the official language.
Considered as a dependency, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries/dependencies in the world, with an overall density of more than 6,200 people per km².
Despite its population density, Hong Kong was reported to be one of the greenest cities in
Asia. Hong Kong is as of 2006 the fourth most expensive city in the world to live
in. The majority of people live in flats (apartments) in high-rise buildings. The rest of the open spaces are often covered with parks, woods and shrubs. About 40% of the
land is designated as Country Parks and Nature Reserves. Hiking and camping are popular outdoor activities in Hong Kong's hilly country parks. The irregular and long coastline of Hong Kong also provides many bays and fine beaches for its inhabitants. Environmental concern and awareness is growing, however, as Hong Kong also ranks as one of the most (air-)polluted cities in the world. Estimates are that 70–80% of the city's air pollution comes from other parts of the Pearl River Delta.
Hong Kong's climate is subtropical and prone to monsoons. It is cool and dry in the wintertime which lasts from around January to March, and is hot, humid and rainy from spring through summer. It is warm, sunny, and dry in autumn. Hong Kong occasionally has typhoons in the summer and early autumn. The ecology of Hong Kong is mostly affected by the results of climatic changes. Hong Kong's climate is seasonal due to alternating wind direction between winter and summer. Hong Kong has been geologically stable for millions of years, though landslides are common especially after rain. Flora and fauna in Hong Kong are altered by climatic change, sea level alternation and human impact.
The highest recorded temperature in Hong Kong is 36.1°C (97°F) while the lowest recorded temperature is 0.0°C (32°F). The average temperature in the coldest month, January, is 15.8°C (61°F) while the average temperature in the hottest month, July, is 28.8°C (82°F). The territory is situated south of the Tropic of Cancer which is approximate to Hawaii in latitude. In winter, strong and cold winds generate from the north cool the city; in the summer, the wind's direction reverses and brings the warm and humid air in from the south. This climate can support a tropical rainforest.
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