History of Hong Kong

History of Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong is just a small region on the world map, Hong Kong is rich in history. This is because it combines both the eastern history of ancient and modern China fused with the westernisation due to British colonisation. In fact, carbon dating finds human development for tens of thousands of years in this vibrant and glittering region.

Hong Kong derives its name from the spoken Hakka and/or Cantonese name, "香港". In English, this means “fragrant harbour”. This actually refers to a small inlet known as Little Hong Kong or Aberdeen Harbour which was between Hong Kong Island's south and the Ap Lei Chua island. It was actually the first point of contact between local fishermen and British sailors. “Fragrant harbour” was derived from the fragrance of Hong Kong Harbour's waters which was sweet from the Pearl River's freshwater influx or the fragrant incense factories that were stored near Aberdeen Harbour before it became Victoria Harbour. In fact, it was only when the Treaty of Nanking was signed in 1842 that Hong Kong was officially recorded on documents to encompass the entire island's region.

In terms of human history, there archaeological findings which suggest that humans have been in Hong Kong for at least 30,000 years. In Wong Tei Tung and Sai Kung, stone tools from the stone age were excavated. Religious carvings have also been found at coastal areas and outlying islands which may have originated from the Che people from the Neolithic era. However, the latest findings from Wong Tei Tung have been found from the Paleolithic era.

It is known that Hong Kong was part of China during the Qin Dynasty's reign. It even was part of China before the Qin Dynasty, under Nanyue which was around 203 BC – 111 BC. There is also archaeological evidence to support that there was salt production at least 2000 years ago. Even during the Tang Dynasty, the Tuen Mun region in the New Territories was a salt production centre, naval base, port, and a base for exploiting pearls.

When the Mongols invaded Hong Kong in 1276, the Southern Song Dynasty moved from Fujian to Lantau Island, before moving it to what is known as Kowloon City today. In fact, the last Emperor of the Song Dynasty, Emperor Huaizong of Song, was enthroned on Lantau Island in 1278. One of Emperor Huaizong's officials, Hau Wong, is still worshiped by Hong Kong locals today.

It was only during the Mongol period where Hong Kong saw Chinese refugees first enter the area. These refugees entered Hong Kong due to famines, wars, and to find jobs. There are five clans that basically founded Hong Kong after this occurred – and they are the Tang, Hau, Pang, Man, Liu, and Punti from Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi areas. Walled villages were also built to protect themselves from the legendary Chinese pirate called Cheung Po Tsai.

The last Chinese dynasty would be the last to come into contact with this region. As a trading port and military outpost, this territory gained attention of the world. In the early 19th century, the British Empire took control of Hong Kong after a cessation of wars due to trade disagreements. In 1899, the there was a rebellion against the British colony in Kat Hing Wai which was a walled village. Eventually, after unsuccessful attempts, the British troops blasted the iron gate of these civilians and exhibited it in London. It was only about 30 years later than the Tang clan demanded the return of their gate. It was eventually returned by the 16th Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Reginald Stubbs, in 1925.

All of these achievements set way for the foundation of business and culture in Hong Kong. This included the buses, trams, ferries, airlines, electric companies, large-scale bank, a hospital, and more. Even after the invasion of both Britain and Japan during colonisation and World War 2, life in Hong Kong boomed. There was a high late of literacy, life expectancy, per-capita income, and more which attests to the achievements of this tiny territory over the past 4 decades in the 20th century. In 1990, the law of Hong Kong was adjusted to welcome the handover to the People's Republic of China although many claim it was not democratic enough. In 1997, Hong Kong was finally handed over to the People's Republic of China.

Although it is relatively early into the 2000's, there have been a significant series of events in this ever-changing region. Many protested in Hong Kong as they tried to cope with adjustments of being part of China despite their backlash against the British during colonisation. Hong Kong was also badly hit by SARS in 2003, as well as the Bird Flu Pandemic. Hong Kong Disneyland was also launched. In terms of its famous skyline, it has continued to evolve with the tallest building in Hong Kong, the Two International Finance Centre, completed in 2003. This was only to be toppled in 2010 by the International Commerce Centre which was 118 storeys high. However, the tallest building in the region currently is the ICC building, located in West Kowloon.