Inhabited since antiquity by the Chinese, Hong Kong became a British colony after the Second Opium War in the 1860s, controlled by a government over 11,000 miles away. The British obtained a 99-year lease on the island in 1898 and throughout the twentieth century Hong Kong prospered as a bastion of capitalism and an outpost of Western culture surrounded by a communist and often insular nation. The island city was handed back over to the Chinese government in a transfer of sovereignty in 1997, but will retain some of its autonomy until at least 2047.
Modern Hong Kong is part of a robust, economically powerful new China, and its famous towering skyline is no longer an anomaly. Not all of the British Empire’s influence has left the city and an Edwardian shopping center can still be found amid the Qing-era temples.
PUBLISHED: July 18, 2013