Hong Kong is a gateway to Asia with an international and diverse population and a style of its own. After 156 years of colonial rule under Britain, the territory reverted to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997 under the “one country, two systems” concept whereby Hong Kong was guaranteed to be able to maintain its capitalist society for a further 50 years.
Hong Kong has two official languages, English and Cantonese, the Chinese dialect spoken throughout Guangdong Province. Mandarin, the official language in the People’s Republic of China, is increasingly spoken in Hong Kong. The population of Hong Kong is approximately 8.0 million people, some 95% of which are Chinese. There are approximately 60,000 American expatriates in Hong Kong. There is a common law legal system in Hong Kong with its own ordinances (many based on the English Acts of Parliament) and case law. When Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty, a Final Court of Appeals was established to take the place of appeals to Privy Council in London. Hong Kong still follows the British practice of a split legal profession where the solicitor deals with the client and then briefs a barrister to appear in court.
Hong Kong has been described by economist Milton Friedman as the “last laissez faire economy.” Hong Kong’s economy is based on free enterprise.
Hong Kong is consistently ranked the World’s Freest Economy in the annual Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The small territory is now the eighth largest trading economy in the world and boasts one of the world’s largest container ports in terms of container throughput. The airport is the busiest in the world in terms of airfreight tonnage handled. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange and the transfer of capital in or out of the territory. The Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 7.8/$ since 1983.
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