Overview – One of the safest cities to live in the world today and China’s great beacon to Western Culture. With its own twist of Eastern culture, and home to some of the most striking architecture in modern times, Hong Kong is a place to visit and cherish for times to come. The temperature is mild year round and there are no extremes in heat or cold.
With a population of just over seven million, the Pearl of the Orient is a seaside town where you can hear, primarily, English and Cantonese in the street as a bilingual region, Mandarin, Vietnamese, French, and other Latin languages. And in the houses you can enjoy Feng Shui. It is a popular destination for more affluent expatriates and world travelers alike.
Political Situation - Hong Kong is an SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China, which was long populated by British citizens. It earned its sovereignty in 1997, one of the last British colonies to lose its colonial status and instead be integrated with the native culture. Today it has a unique blend of influences that permeate the culture today. You have your Chinese New Year celebrations and your Wall Street mavens pacing the Central District; your Bostonian expats, and your Japanese investors.
It enjoys a significant amount of freedom, economic and political, in comparison wither other nearby regions, thanks to the Basic Law signed in 1990 guaranteeing these freedoms and a distinct administration for fifty years.
Economy – It is not an agricultural economy, but a services economy and is a thoroughfare for goods to be imported and re-exported. This is the great majority of the Hong Kong GDP (about $224 Billion). One of the principal industries in Hong Kong is, of course Banking and Financial Services. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is one of the largest in the world and around 33% of the companies in it are Chinese.
As of 2009 the unemployment rate was sitting at 5.9%. Compare this to around an 11% reported rate in the United States. However, this USA figure is extremely modest and is widely assumed to be only a fraction of the real unemployment rate, based on the daily news headlines of thousands and thousands of lost jobs.
In recent years the New Territories toward Mainland China, in particular, has seen a lot of new development. Plus, roughly half of the population lives on the Kowloon Peninsula, just south of the New Territories.
Overall, Hong Kong has been resilient after the world economic crisis starting in 2008, thanks to its ties to the Chinese economy, which is growing. It is one of the strongest economies today and has managed to resist pressures from European and English speaking nations to concede to their own poor economic practices.
Education – Hong Kong is home to some of the best and most competitive Universities and secondary schools in the world. Most people are literate and have graduated high school. Higher education is very competitive, which only carries over to the work force. There is an astonishing work ethic among the people and the banks have great customer services and answer their means of communication. Store employees work quickly and are eager to please
Nightlife - When the mist falls over the city at night and rainbow colored reflects hover over the bay, the people come down from the sleek skyscrapers and houses to live the good life in Hong Kong. All over Hong Kong there is a large variety of themed bars, restaurants, and clubs, Irish, Japanese, French, Chinese, Thai, and almost any other imaginable culture.
Wan Chai is one of the more affluent districts of Hong Kong. It is an artsy and ritzy part of town that features many bars, clubs, and gentlemen’s clubs. Some of the best shopping can also be found here. This is where most foreigners will congregate, though many also flock to Lan Kwai Fong. Bars and clubs can be expensive if you stick to touristy areas and hotels, but you can also more mid-level priced venues. Some places start earlier in the evening than others, most clubs places around 10pm, restaurants around 8pm.
Attractions and Leisure
Hong Kong Disney – This is the 5th Magic Kingdom park built in the world and is set to expand further in upcoming years. Millions of people visit the park, which has incorporated Chinese culture, interestingly by building it in accordance with Feng Shui.
Hong Kong Ocean Park – This is a maritime themed amusement park, similar to Sea World with whale, dolphin, and seal shows, live music, aquariums, gondolas, a Ferris wheel, and small roller coasters.
Victoria’s Peak – This is a mountain in Hong Kong with arguably the best view of the city and the location of many cityscapes. It is a must for any visitor to the Pearl of the Orient.
Cinema – Rivals Hollywood with its proliferation of movies, and Hong Kong is no stranger to outdoor theaters. Culturally significant, it is the third largest source of movies, after Bollywood and Hollywood. The people love their celebrities and the regional stars, much thanks going to the Shaw brothers for this. Movie theaters commonly show movies with English subtitles.
Opera –The Cantonese Opera with its elaborate costumes, sets, makeup and haunting melodies is another culturally significant activity to take in.
Bowen Drive is a popular place for exercising, particularly jogging. And all around the city there are parks for leasiure--obody can say that the city doesn’t love parks, especially for performing Tai Chi.
Religion – Religion is a large part of daily life in Hong Kong and people go to extreme measures to maintain some traditions such as feng shui. The most common religion is Buddhism, followed by Confucianism and Taoism. Roughly 10% of the population is Christian. There are also small minorities of Judaism and Muslim religions.
Additional Cultural Commentary –The younger generation is more influenced by the Chinese culture than Great Britain, though it is a very family-centric culture in which great respect is paid to the older generations and obedience is highly valued.