Hong Kong


Hong Kong began in the 1800s as a small fishing village, but gained importance as a port of transfer when the British began shipping opium to China. During the First Opium War (1839-42), it became a British colony with the cessation of Hong Kong Island in 1841, followed by the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860, and a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.

Hong Kong and its 260 territorial islands are situated in the South China Sea, at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta. It is comprised of three main territories – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories – all of which were peacefully handed back to China in 1997. In 2009, Hong Kong was deemed a special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, abiding by the credo “one country, two systems.”

The name “Hong Kong” literally means “fragrant harbour”, emanating from the area around present-day Aberdeen at the south end of Hong Kong Island where fragrant wood products and incense were once traded. Victoria Harbor, the narrow body of water separating Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula, is renowned for being one of the deepest natural maritime ports in the world.

Hong Kong’s impressive skyline houses a current population of 7.4 million and boasts the second largest number of hi-rises of any city in the world.

Although suffering from much of the pervasive air pollution of mainland China, Hong  Kong is blessed with sufficient ocean breezes to allow it a fair amount of direct sunlight and therefore visual contrast.

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Forbidden City


Today, China’s capital city, Beijing has a population of 21 million. Within the center of Beijing, The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace for 500 years — from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (1412 to 1912).

Consisting of 980 buildings covering 180 acres, the palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture; and served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved wooden structures in the world, The Forbidden City houses the Palace Museum, which is the most visited museum in the world, with more than 14 million annual visitors.

The Forbidden City is surrounded on three sides by imperial gardens; to the south are two important shrines, and two identical gatehouses. The more famous Tiananmen Gate, is decorated with a portrait of Mao Zedong and two placards: “long Live the People’s Republic of China” and “long live the Great Unity of the World’s peoples”. The Tinanmen Gate connects the Forbidden City precinct with the modern, symbolic center of the Chinese state, Tiananmen Square.

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