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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 3.5 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 system will be maintained for 50 years. The SAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy except in defence and foreign affairs.
Situated at the southeastern tip of China, Hong Kong is ideally positioned at the centre of rapidly developing East Asia. With a total area of 1 103 square kilometres, it covers Hong Kong Island, the 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 6.8 million at the end of 2003. The population density is 6 300 people per square kilometre. Hong Kong has a large foreign population of about 523 880. The top three nationalities come from the Philippines (132 770), Indonesia (95 460) and the USA (31 330).
Chinese and English are the official languages. English is widely used in the Government, the legal system and by the 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 6th largest foreign exchange market, the world's 12th largest banking centre, and Asia's 2nd 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 10th largest exporter of services in 2003. Civil aviation, shipping, travel and tourism, trade-related services, and various financial and banking services are the main components of trade in services. The prices of many services are among the lowest in the world.
International Corporate Base
More than 3 200 international corporations have established regional headquarters or offices in Hong Kong. The major types of business carried on by the regional headquarters include the wholesale/retail and import/export trades, other business services (e.g. accounting, advertising and legal services), finance and banking, manufacturing and 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 quite 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, which provide about 3 900 scheduled passenger services and 615 freight services weekly from Hong Kong to some 130 cities world-wide. 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 was named as the world's best airport for the lastest four consecutive years in a survey conducted by British-based research company Skytrax Research.
In 2003, Hong Kong handled 20 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containers, making it the world's busiest container port. The eight container terminals at Kwai Chung have 18 berths totalling about 6 000 metres of frontage with more than 200 hectares of terminal area. Up to 18 'third generation' container ships can be accommodated at these berths. During 2003, some 35 790 ocean-going vessels and about 182 270 river trade vessels called at Hong Kong. These vessels handled some 207.6 million tonnes of cargo and 18.6 million international passengers.
To meet growing demand, Hong Kong is now building a new container terminal. Container Terminal 9 will have six berths with a design capacity to handle at least 2.6 million TEUs of containers a year and will be fully completed by the end of 2004. top