Hong-kong, or Hiang-kiang (' sweet waters'), a British island of southern China, on the east side of the Canton River, 90 miles S. by E. of Canton city. It consists principally of a rugged ridge of granitic rocks, extending from northwest to south-east, and has an area of 29 sq. m. Barren and desolate, the island presents a striking contrast with the beauty of its harbour, a magnificent sheet of water, 10 sq. m. in extent, which stretches between Hong-kong and the peninsula of Kowloon on the mainland. The straits that separate the two are scarcely half a mile wide on the east. To the excellence of its harbour and to its free port it owes its importance as the principal commercial entrepot of southern China, if not of eastern Asia. The annual value of the trade of Hong-kong (exclusive of that which merely passes through the harbour) amounts to about £20,000,000. The trade between Hong-kong and Great Britain amounts to | of a million pounds for exports from Hongkong, and 2| million for imports. The principal items are opium, cottons, woollens, and machinery (imported), and tea and silk (exported).
The mean annual temperature is 75° F. The summer is hot and generally rainy ; but the island is not unhealthy, except at certain seasons. Pop. (1841) 5000; (1851) 37,058; (1861) 123,511; (1901) 2S3,905, of whom only 77,743 were females. For purposes of defence, 376 sq. m. of adjacent territory on the Chinese mainland was leased for ninety-nine years in 1898. Hong-kong is the seat of a British governor and is a British naval station. The city of Victoria, the capital of the island, stretches some 4 miles along the northern shore, and from its situation on the slopes and terraces of the hills overlooking the harbour and its handsome streets and houses, is justly called one of the finest cities in the East. On the mainland the extremity of the peninsula of Kowloon, of 2 2/3 sq. m. in area, was ceded to Great Britain in 1861, and now forms administratively part of the dependency of Hong-kong. The island was first occupied by Great Britain in 1841, and was secured to her next year by the treaty of Nanking.