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Hong Kong Island ( ) is an island in the southern part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Regionmarker. It has a population of 1,289,500 and its population density is 16,390/km², as of 2008. The island had a population of 3,000 inhabitants scattered in a dozen fishing villages when it was occupied by the United Kingdommarker in the First Opium War in 1842, and the City of Victoriamarker was then established on the island by the British Force in honour of Queen Victoria. The Centralmarker area on the island is the historical, political and economic centre of Hong Kongmarker. The northern coast of the island forms the southern shore of the Victoria Harbourmarker, which is largely responsible for the development of Hong Kongmarker due to its deep waters favoured by large trade ships.

The island is home to many of the most famous sights in Hong Kong, such as "The Peakmarker", Ocean Parkmarker, many historical sites and various large shopping centres. The mountain ranges across the island are also famous for hiking.The northern part of Hong Kong Island together with Kowloonmarker forms the core urban area of Hong Kong. Their combined area is approximately 88.3 km2 (34.5 sq. mi.) and their combined population (that of the northern part of the island and of Kowloon) is approximately 3,156,500, reflecting a population density of 35,700/km² (91,500/sq. mi.).

The island is often referred to locally as "Hong Kong side" or "Island side". This style was formerly applied to many locations (eg 'China-side' or even 'Kowloon Walled City-side'marker) but is now only heard in this form and 'Kowloon side', suggesting the two sides of the harbourmarker. (The form was once more common in Britain than now, such as 'Surrey-side' and is still seen in British placenames like 'Cheapsidemarker', 'Tynesidemarker', and 'Teessidemarker', not all of which have an obvious watercourse or boundary with actual sides.)

Administration

Districts located on the island:

Hong Kong Island is one of the five Legislative Council geographical constituencies.

Note: Hong Kong Island is not part of the Islands Districtmarker.

History

Colonial era

Due to Qing Dynastymarker China's loss to Britain in the First Opium War (1839-1841), it was forced to sign the Convention of Chuenpeh in 1841, ceding Hong Kong Island to the British. China and Britain later signed the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, ceding the island "in perpetuity" to Great Britainmarker and making Hong Kong Island an official British colony in the Far East.

On 20 January 1841, Hong Kong Island was occupied militarily by Captain Charles Elliot of the Britishmarker Royal Navy. He landed at Possession Point, and declared the island a "barren rock".

The British developed their foothold in Centralmarker, creating Hong Kong's first street - Hollywood Road. Central grew into an administrative and business centre. From the 19th to 20th centuries, Hong Kong's economy flourished mainly due to commercial trade, with most businesses being located in Central, which became the central business district. The island also began developing several upper-class residences, such as Mid-levels, Victoria Peakmarker and Repulse Baymarker.

Hong Kong developed into a prosperous, if somewhat sleepy, colonial outpost, and a convenient port from which the British Empire could extract material wealth from the decaying Qing Empire. The territory of Hong Kong was further expanded in 1898 with the acquisition of Kowloon and the New Territories in a 99-year lease. The prosperity of Hong Kong came to a sudden end with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, and the subsequent Japanese invasion in 1941.

Japanese invasion and occupation

The Second World War was a dark period for Hong Kong. In the 1930s, the British anticipated a Japanese attack on Hong Kong. As Wong Nai Chung Gap was a strategic important place of defence, large-scale defensive works were constructed there, including anti-aircraft batteries, howitzers, and machine gun nests.

The Battle of Hong Kong began on 8 December 1941. Britishmarker, Canadian, Indianmarker armies and the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Forces resisted the Japanese invasion commanded by Sakai Takashi, which began eight hours after the attack on Pearl Harbormarker. However, the Japanese were able to take control of the Hong Kong skies on the first day of attack, outnumbering the defenders. The Britons and the Indians retreated from the Gin Drinker's Line and consequently from Kowloon under heavy aerial bombardment and artillery barrage.

On 18 December, the Japanese had conquered North Point, reaching Wong Nai Chung Gap on the next day. English and Scottish forces and the Canadian Winnipeg Grenadiers vigorously defended the crucial point of Wong Nai Chung Gap, and for a while successfully secured the passage between Central and the secluded southern parts of the island. Japanese casualties were about 600. However, Allied forces there were ultimately defeated by the Japanese on 23 December, and Wong Nai Chung Reservoir was lost - the only one in Hong Kong at the time. As Wan Chai Gap had also fallen that same day, the British had no choice but to surrender.

Hong Kong was surrendered on 25 December 1941, thereafter often called "Black Christmas" by locals. The Governor of Hong Kong, Mark Young, surrendered in person at the temporary Japanese headquarters, on the third floor of the Peninsula Hotelmarker, thus beginning the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. Isogai Rensuke became the first Japanese governor of Hong Kong. Hyper-inflation and food rationing followed; and the Japanese declared Hong Kong Dollars illegal. Furthermore, 10,000 women were raped in the first few days after Hong Kong's capture and a large number of suspected dissidents were executed. The Japanese cut rations for civilians to conserve food for soldiers, usually to starvation levels. Many people were forcibly moved to famine- and disease-ridden areas of the mainland. When the Japanese surrendered to the United States on 14 August 1945, the population of Hong Kong had shrunk to 600,000, less than half of the pre-war population of 1.6 million.

Post-war era

After the war, Hong Kong's population increased rapidly, leading to further development of areas other than Central, including North Pointmarker, Shau Kei Wan, Aberdeenmarker and Wong Chuk Hang. Wan Chai and Causeway Baymarker grew as commercial centres.

Geography

Hong Kong Island is the second-largest island of the territory, the largest being Lantau Islandmarker. Its area is 80.5 km², including 6.98 km² of land reclaimed since 1887 and some smaller scale ones since 1851. It makes up approximately 7% of the total territory. It is separated from the mainland (Kowloon Peninsula and New Territories) by Victoria Harbourmarker.

Demographics

Its population as of 2000 is 1,367,900, which makes up approximately 19% of that of Hong Kongmarker. Its population density is higher than for the whole of Hong Kongmarker, ca. 18,000 per km². However, the population is heavily concentrated along the northern shore. The combined population of Central and Western, Wan Chai, and Eastern is 1,085,500, giving this urbanised part of the island a density of around 26,000 per km², or 67,000 per mi², in its approximately 41.3 km², or 16.1 mi².

The residents living in the three northern shore districts of Hong Kong island have the highest median household income of any area in Hong Kong. Affluent districts on Hong Kong Island are the Peak, Western Mid-Levels (Conduit Road/Robinson Road/Magazine Gap Road,etc), Eastern Mid-Levels (Happy Valleymarker/Tai Hang/Jardines Lookout), Tai Tam, Deep Water Baymarker and Repulse Baymarker.

Transport

Admiralty MTR station
The Island Line of the MTR underground railway network runs exclusively on Hong Kong Island, from West to East, along the northern coastline of the island. However, the western part of the island is not yet served by the railway. The government and MTR have planned to extend the Island Line to Kennedy Town, the western tip of the island. The extension is expected to start construction in 2008 and open in 2012.

Hong Kong Tramways and the Peak Trammarker run exclusively on Hong Kong Island, which run from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, with a branch links from Causeway Baymarker to Happy Valleymarker and the Central Districtmarker to Victoria Peakmarker respectively.

Hong Kong Island is connected to the Kowloon Peninsula on the mainland by two road-only tunnels (the Cross-Harbour Tunnelmarker and the Western Harbour Tunnel), two MTR railway tunnels (Tsuen Wan Line and Tung Chung Line) and one combined road and MTR rail link tunnel (Eastern Harbour Tunnel, containing the Tseung Kwan O Line and road traffic in separate conduits running side by side). A fourth rail link (Shatin to Central Link from Causeway Baymarker to Hung Hom) and a fourth harbour-crossing tunnel are being planned in order to solve the congested traffic of the current tunnels in peak hours. There is no bridge between the island and the mainland. A bridge connects Ap Lei Chaumarker and Wong Chuk Hang of Aberdeenmarker on Hong Kong Island. It was opened in 1983 with two lanes and was expanded to four in 1994.

See also



References

  1. Booth, Martin. Gweilo: A memoir of a Hong Kong childhood, Bantam Books, 2005. ISBN 0553816721, pp108, 173
  2. The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester, Harper, ISBN 978-0-06-083978-9, p8,
  3. Orient: Hong Kong Revisited


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