"Fragrant Harbour" Hong Kong's English name is derived from two Chinese characters, Heung and Gong, usually translated as "Fragrant Harbour," though the actual origins of the name are obscure.
Originally it was only the name of a small settlement near Aberdeen, the main fishing and entrepot port on pre-colonial Hong Kong Island. Some historians suggest that Hong Kong's Chinese name was inspired by its export of fragrant incense.
Kowloon: "Nine Dragons" ( click for postcard )
The explanation for Kowloon's name is even more romantic. In Chinese, the peninsula's name is Gow Lung, meaning "Nine Dragons". The name is thought to have been coined by Emperor Ping, one of two boy- emperors of the doomed Sung Dynasty whose court fled to Hong Kong eight centuries ago. He is said to have counted eight mountains in the area, and decided to name it "Eight Dragons" (in accordance with the belief that every mountain is inhabited by a dragon).
The Emperor's tally of the peaks was corrected by a quick-witted courtier who pointed out that as emperors were also believed to be dragons, the place should be named "Nine Dragons" - Ping being the ninth. The origin of Kowloon's name may be a legend, but it is a historical fact that the boy-emperor's travelling palace stayed there. One ancient carved-rock inscription recording the imperial visit stands in a small park on the very edge of Hong Kong International Airport.
The British Dependent Territory of Hong Kong consists of Victoria (commonly known as Hong Kong Island), the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and 235 outlying islands, totalling 1,078 sq km. It is situated on the southeastern coastline of China, facing the South China Sea. To its north is the province of Guangdong (formerly called Canton) whose provincial capital of Guangzhou (Canton City), is 135 km away from Hong Kong. China's capital city of Beijing (Peking) is about 2,000 km further north. The territory measures 38 km from north to south and 50 km from east to west.
Hong Kong Island is 77.5 sq km; urban areas are concentrated along the northern shore, its centre and south coast being dominated by mountains.
Kowloon, although only 45.5 sq km, is flatter and therefore more urbanised. Containing most of the territory's land mass (955 sq km including the Outlying Islands), the New Territories is mostly rural, but has growing regional centres which are self-sufficient "New Towns".
More than 70% of Hong Kong is countryside, and 21 official country parks account for 40% of the rural land area.
To be exact, Hong Kong's location is 22� �� � 16.903 'N, 114� �� � 9.493'E. What this really means is that Hong Kong's climate is sub-tropical with distinct seasons. It is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer at approximately the same latitude as the Bahamas, Hawaii and Mexico City.
THE MAIN AREAS OF INTEREST TO VISITORS:
Hong Kong Island ( click for postcard )
- Central: the government headquarters, transport hub, and financial and banking centre, also an exclusive shopping district.
- Western: Hong Kong's most typical traditional "Chinatown" area.
- Wan Chai: ( click for postcard ) once famous as a sailor's paradise, this colourful district still offers exciting nightlife as well as arts centres, office plazas, and superb ethnic restaurants.
- Causeway Bay: long a popular nightlife, dining and shopping area.
- Aberdeen: on the island's south side, Aberdeen is an ancient fishing port whose maritime heritage offers scenic delights.
- South Coast: the beaches of Repulse Bay and
Deep Water Bay ( click for postcard ) and the fishing village of Stanley are among the scenic treasures here.
- Tsim Sha Tsui: one of Hong Kong's major shopping, dining and entertainment areas, featuring a blaze of neon and the famous shopping street Nathan Road.
- Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok: a bustling and fascinating area full of speciality shops and open markets.
The New Territories features rural retreats, traditional villages, handsomely landscaped "New Towns", walking trails, and many cultural attractions.
A varied collection of outlying islands are accessible by tourists for outings. They include rural Lantau, which is twice as large as Hong Kong, charming and tiny Cheung Chau, picturesque Peng Chau, and Lamma, which is famed for its seafood restaurants.
While Hong Kong's sub-tropical climate does not offer the extremes endured by regions to north and south, there is a definite seasonal variation that should be taken into account.
Spring:March - mid-May
Summer: late May - mid-September
Autumn: late September - early December
Winter: late December - February
English and Chinese are Hong Kong's two official languages. The Cantonese dialect is the most commonly spoken language in the territory, though English is the language of the business and service industries; hotel employees, many urban Hong Kong residents, most young people and shop and service personnel understand and speak it to some degree. Other Chinese dialects. such as Mandarin (Putonghua), Shanghainese, and Chiu-Chow can be heard as well.
Major hotels have employees with knowledge of other languages, such as French, German, Japanese and Mandarin. Translation services in many languages are also available from major hotels' business centres.
English-speaking policemen can be identified by the red tags under their shoulder numbers.
The HKTA has introduced a colour-coded system of badges in its Information and Gift Centres. The badges show which languages, in addition to English, are spoken by staff members. A red stripe indicates that the wearer speaks Japanese, a green stripe that he or she speaks Mandarin, a purple stripe indicates a German-speaker and a blue stripe shows proficiency in French.
There are more than seven million people in Hong Kong. About 1.3 million live on Hong Kong Island, around 2 million in mainland Kowloon, and the remainder in the New Territories and Outlying Islands. For administrative and electoral purposes, the territory is divided into various Districts.
Almost 95% of the population is ethnic Chinese; the international community includes various nationalities.