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Hong Kong

Hong Kong became a colony of the [British Empire] after the [First Opium War] (1839–42). Originally confined to [Hong Kong Island] , the colony's boundaries were extended in stages to the [Kowloon Peninsula] and the [New Territories] by 1898. It was [occupied by Japan] during the [Pacific War] , after which the British resumed control until 1997, when [China regained sovereignty] . The Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong shall enjoy a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign relations and military defence.


The name "Hong Kong" is an approximate phonetic rendering of the [Cantonese] pronunciation of the [spoken Cantonese] or Hakka name "香港", meaning "fragrant harbour" in English.

Before 1842, the name Hong Kong originally referred to a small inlet (now [Aberdeen Harbour] /Little Hong Kong) between the island of [Ap Lei Chau] and the south side of [Hong Kong Island] . The inlet was one of the first points of contact between British sailors and local fishermen.

The reference to fragrance may refer to the harbour waters sweetened by the fresh water estuarine influx of the [Pearl River] , or to the incense factories lining the coast to the north of Kowloon which was stored around Aberdeen Harbour for export, before the development of [Victoria Harbour] . In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed, and the name Hong Kong was first recorded on official documents to encompass the entirety of the island.Fairbank, John King. Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842–1854. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953.


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