Hong Kong , (Red Harbor), or Hiang Kiang (Fragrant Streams), a British colony in China, comprising the island of Hong Kong and a part of the peninsula of Kooloon on the mainland opposite. The island lies off the const of the province of Kwangtung, on the E. side of the estuary of the Chu-kiang or Canton river, 35 m. E. of Macao and 75 m. S. E. of Canton; area, about 29 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 124,198. The peninsula of Kooloon has an area of 5 sq. m. The island has a coast line of about 26 m., and is very irregular in shape, being indented by numerous bays. Two of the largest of these are on the S. E. side. Tytam bay, the most easterly one, extends 4 or 5 m. inland, forming two long peninsulas. Tytam peninsula, on its W. side, separates it from Stanley bay, at the head of which is the small town of Stanley. On the N. side the island is separated from the mainland by a narrow irregular strait, which at the Limoon pass at its E. end is only a quarter of a mile wide, and at Kooloon point a little more than a mile. At the W. end of this strait are Hong Kong road and Victoria bay, the latter a spacious harbor, having deep water close in shore and affording the best of anchorage.
The surface of the island is rugged and uneven, consisting of a range of barren granite rocks, running nearly E. and W., the highest of which is 1,825 ft. above the sea, broken by occasional narrow valleys, with a little level land along the beach. The natural vegetation is confined mostly to rank herbage and brushwood growing in the interstices of the rocks, and a few plants on the margins of the streams. There are no large trees. The mango, the orange, and the pear are indigenous, and the English have introduced the fruits of Canton and Macao. But a very small part of the island is susceptible of cultivation, scarcely enough to produce vegetables for the consumption of the inhabitants. Rice, sweet potatoes, and yams are raised by the natives, and potatoes and various European vegetables have been sucessfully grown. The island is abundantly supplied with good spring water. The climate is hot but comparatively healthy, although in some seasons there has been a large mortality from malaria. Of the population in 1871, 115,444 were Chinese, 5,933 Europeans and Americans, including the military and naval establishments, and 2,623 East Indians. The resident white population was only 2,736, of whom 1,367 were Portuguese, 869 English, 170 Germans, 133 Americans, and 60 French. - The chief settlement on the island is the city of Victoria, on the bay of the same name, in lat. 22° 16' 30" N., Ion 114° 8' 30" E. Including the Chinese town, it extends 3 m. along the shore, occupying all the space between the water and the foot of the hills, and rising up the latter in terraces.
The public buildings, which are of stone and brick, are superior to those usually seen in China. The houses of the merchants are large and elegant, with broad verandas and fine gardens. There are water works and gas works, and the main thoroughfare is protected by a sea wall. Among the public buildings are the government house, magistracy, court house, exchange, jail, ordnance and engineers' department, club house, and public offices. There are also a cathedral and bishop's palace, the chapel and school of the London missionary society, hospital of the medical missionary society, Morrison educational society, and seamen's and military hospitals. All the principal foreign nations have consulates. There are ten banking houses, one French, one local, and the rest English; two daily newspapers, one semi-weekly, one weekly, and one fortnightly, all English, and the weekly a government publication; one Portuguese weekly, and one in Chinese published every second day. Fine government gardens have been laid out, and much has been done of late to improve the appearance and the sanitary condition of the city. The population is about 95,000, of whom more than 90,-000 are Chinese. Many of the latter are merchants, but the greater part are laborers and boatmen.
About 13,000 of the poorer class live in boats in the harbor. The natives are not allowed to go abroad without a pass after 8 o'clock in the evening, but no restrictions are placed on the foreign population. The streets are guarded at night by a strong police force of Indian sepoys, and life and property are now secure. The government has paid considerable attention to education, and native schools have been established in Victoria and in other parts of the island. The village schools are purely Chinese, and use Chinese text books alone; but, owing to the extreme poverty of the people, only a fraction of the children attend them. - The administration of the colony is in the hands of a governor, aided by an executive council composed of the colonial secretary, the officer commanding the troops, and the attorney general. There is also a legislative council, over which the governor presides, composed of the chief justice, the colonial secretary, the attorney general, the treasurer, the auditor general, the surveyor general, and four unofficial members nominated by the crown on the recommendation of the governor.
Hong Kong is mainly a factory for British commerce with China and the headquarters for the British military and naval forces in China and Japan. It is a free port, and no dues are levied on goods or ships entering, discharging, or loading. The revenue is derived from land rents, licenses to sell opium and spirits, postage, taxes, fines, fees of office, etc, which generally more than cover the expenses of the administration. Since 1855 the colony has generally had a surplus above its expenditures. It pays at present £20,000 annually to the British government as a military contribution. Its total revenue in 1870 was £190,673, and the expenditure £183,595. In 1871 the revenue was £175,920, of which £36,000 was derived from lands and rents, £40,000 from taxes, and £23,000 from the opium monopoly; expenditure, £180,273, of which a large portion was devoted to the maintenance of the police force. Hong Kong has now no public debt. Its commerce is chiefly with Great Britain, the United States, and Germany, the first absorbing about one half of the exports and imports.
There are no official returns of values, but according to mercantile estimates, the imports average about £4.000,000 and the exports about £2.000,000. The principal imports are textile fabrics, mainly cotton goods, and the exports are mostly teas. The weights and measures both of China and of Great Britain are in general use. The money in circulation is the Mexican dollar, and the silver dollar coined at Hong Kong, with the effigy of the British sovereign on one side and its name and value in Chinese characters on the reverse; and for smaller sums the usual Chinese coins. The new American dollar has been recently introduced, and meets with much favor. - Hong Kong was occupied by the British in 1841, and confirmed to them by the treaty of Nankin in 1842. The peninsula of Kooloon, which commands the N. side of Victoria harbor, was ceded in 1801. The population before the cession was only about 2,000, a poor and ignorant race, subsisting partly by fishing and partly by the cutting of building stone.