Hong Kong has many natural harbors, that of Victoria (c.17 sq mi/44 sq km) being one of the finest in the world. The colony grew around this beautiful, sheltered, deepwater port, and today an estimated 75% of the population are concentrated there. Victoria lies at the foot of Victoria Peak (1,805 ft/550 m), the center of an extensively quarried granite range covering much of Hong Kong island. As the city has grown, large sections of Victoria Harbor have been filled in to provide space for office buildings, a convention center, and highways.
About 95% of the people are ethnic Chinese, some 2% are Filipino, and there are substantial British and American communities. Cantonese and English are official languages, and other Chinese dialects are spoken. About 90% of the population practice traditional Chinese religions, and some 10% are Christian. Hong Kong's educational institutions include the Univ. of Hong Kong and Chinese Univ.
Hong Kong is governed under the Basic Law as approved in 1990 by the National People's Congress of China. The head of state is the president of China. The government is headed by the chief executive, who is elected by the 800-member electoral committee for a five-year term. The legislature consists of the 60-seat Legislative Council, half of whose members are directly elected, and half indirectly, for four-year terms. Changes adopted in 2010 increased the number of directly elected seats to 40, but required that 5 of the new members be chosen from among district members; the electoral committee was expanded to 1,200 members. The main parties are the prodemocracy Democratic party, the probusiness Liberal Party, and the Beijing-oriented Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.