British Hong Kong

British Hong Kong was a colony and dependent territory of the British Empire from 1841 to 1997, apart from a brief period under Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. The colonial period began with the occupation of Hong Kong Island in 1841 during the First Opium War. The island was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Nanking, ratified by the Daoguang Emperor in the aftermath of the war of 1842. It was established as a Crown colony in 1843. The colony expanded to include the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War. Hong Kong's territory was further extended in 1898 when the British obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories.

Hong Kong
Anthem: "God Save the King/Queen"
Map of Hong Kong
(before 30 June 1997)
Status1843–1941; 1945–1981:
Crown colony
British Dependent Territory
CapitalVictoria (de facto)
Official languages
British monarch 
Queen Victoria
Edward VII
George V
Edward VIII
 1936–1941, 1945–1952
George VI
Elizabeth II
Sir Henry Pottinger (first)
Chris Patten (last)
Chief Secretary[lower-alpha 2] 
George Malcolm (first)
Anson Chan (last)
LegislatureLegislative Council
Historical eraVictorian era to 20th century
26 January 1841
29 August 1842
18 October 1860
9 June 1898
25 December 1941 –
30 August 1945
1 July 1997
• 1848
80.4 km2 (31.0 sq mi)
• 1901
1,042 km2 (402 sq mi)
 1996 estimate
5,796/km2 (15,011.6/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)1996[2] estimate
$154 billion
 Per capita
GDP (nominal)1996[2] estimate
$160 billion
 Per capita
Gini (1996) 51.8[3]
HDI (1995) 0.808[4]
very high
Currencybefore 1895:
Trade dollar
after 1937:
Hong Kong dollar
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Xin'an County, Guangdong
Japanese occupation of Hong Kong
Japanese occupation of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Today part ofPeople's Republic of China
  Hong Kong
British Hong Kong
Traditional Chinese英屬香港
Simplified Chinese英属香港

Although China ceded Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in perpetuity, the leased New Territories comprised the vast majority of the total area. Britain did not see any viable way to divide the colony, while the People's Republic of China would not consider extending the lease or allowing British administration thereafter. With the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which states that the social and economic systems in Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years, the British government agreed to transfer the entire territory to China upon the expiration of the New Territories lease in 1997.[5][6]