The former British colony became a special administrative region of China in 1997, when Britain’s 99-year lease of the New Territories, north of Hong Kong island, expired.
Hong Kong is governed under the principle of “one country, two systems”, under which China has agreed to give the region a high degree of autonomy and to preserve its economic and social systems for 50 years from the date of the handover.
But Beijing can veto changes to the political system, and pro-democracy forces have been frustrated by what they see as the slow pace of political reform.
- Hong Kong
- Population: 7.2 million
- Area: 1,098 sq km (424 sq miles)
- Major languages: Chinese (mainly Cantonese), English (both official)
- Major religions: Buddhism, Taoism
- Life expectancy: 80 (men), 86 (women)
- Currency: Hong Kong dollar