History of Hong Kong
Evidence of settlements suggest human activity in Hong Kong dates back over 30,000 years.
The territory was incorporated into China during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC), and the area was firmly consolidated under Nanyue (203 BC - 111 BC.) Tai Po Hoi, the sea of Tai Po, was a major pearl hunting harbour in China from the Han Dynasty through the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), with activities peaking during the Southern Han (917 to 971).
In 1276 during the Mongol invasion, the Southern Song Dynasty court moved to Fujian, then to Lantau Island and later to today's Kowloon City
The last dynasty in China, Qing Dynasty, would also be the last to come in contact with Hong Kong. As a military outpost and trading port, the Hong Kong territory would gain the attention of the world.
The Opium Wars, which led to British victories over China and the cession of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom via the enactment of the new treaties in 1842.
After the territorial settlements, the achievements of the era set the foundation for the culture and commerce in modern Hong Kong for years to come. Every industry went through major transformation and growth. Other vital establishments included changes in philosophy, starting with a western-style education with Frederick Stewart, which was a critical step in separating Hong Kong from mainland China during the political turmoil associated with the falling Qing dynasty. The monumental start of the financial powerhouse industry of the far east began with the first large scale bank.
On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, fear of a possible attack on the colony led to an exodus of 60,000 Chinese. Statistically Hong Kong's population continued to boom in the following decades from 530,000 in 1916 to 725,000 in 1925. Nonetheless the crisis in mainland China in the 1920s and 1930s left Hong Kong vulnerable to a strategic invasion from Japan.
Hong Kong was occupied by Japan from 25 December 1941 to 15 August 1945. On 25 December 1941 British colonial officials headed by the Governor of Hong Kong, Mark Aitchison Young, surrendered in person at the Japanese headquarters on the third floor of the Peninsula Hotel. Isogai Rensuke became the first Japanese governor of Hong Kong.
The communist takeover of mainland China in 1949 led to another population boom in Hong Kong. Thousands of refugees emigrated from mainland China to Hong Kong, and made it an important entrepôt until the United Nations ordered a trade embargo on mainland China due to the Korean War. More refugees came during the Great Leap Forward.
The 1970s also saw the extension of government subsidised education from six years to nine years and the creation of Hong Kong's country parks system.
The opening of the mainland Chinese market and rising salaries drove many manufacturers north. Hong Kong consolidated its position as a commercial and tourism centre in the South-East Asia region. High life expectancy, literacy, per-capita income and other socioeconomic measures attest to Hong Kong's achievements over the last four decades of the 20th Century. Higher income also led to the introduction of the first private housing estates with Taikoo Shing. The period saw a boom in residential high rises, many of the people's homes became part of Hong Kong's skyline and scenery.
On 4 April 1990, the Hong Kong Basic Law was officially accepted as the mini-constitution of the Hong Kong SAR after the handover. In July 1992, Chris Patten was appointed as the last British Governor of Hong Kong. On 1 July 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China by the United Kingdom. The old Legislative Council, elected under Chris Patten's reforms, was replaced by the Provisional Legislative Council elected by a selection committee whose members were appointed by the PRC government. Tung Chee Hwa, elected in December by a selection committee with members appointed by the PRC government, assumed duty as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
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