Hong Kong History. Economy. Transportation.
As victors of the Opium wars, the British acquired Hong Kong Island and it’s surrounding territories after a series of treaties with the Chinese in the mid 1800’s. Hong Kong’s geographical location for overseas trading and it’s protected harbor made for a perfect location for a colony. Hong Kong is a series of districts within the territories. It is not referred to as a city, although ‘Central’ on the northwest coast of HK island, is the heart of it’s financial district and government buildings. In 1997 the British returned HK to China and it is now considered an ‘autonomous state’ in the Republic of China.
Terrain Difficulties As Hong Kong grew, the harbor, which made the territory such a success, began slowly diminishing. Steep terrain has made it simpler to develop on reclaimed land that was once the azure waters of the harbor.
Although land reclamation has been ongoing for the past 100 years, the dramatic acceleration of landfill in the harbor over the last 30 years has recently brought about ordinances to restrict any further land reclamation from Victoria Harbor.
Population Growth In a century and a half, the population of HK has soared from a few thousand people to over 7 million. The northern coast of HK island and Kowloon across the harbor, are some of the most densely populated areas in the world. Yet, approximately 75% of the territory is undeveloped. There are still quiet islands, like Lamma - just south of HK island and a 40 minute ferry ride away from Central - that do not even have cars on them! Getting around in Lamma. Getting around in Kowloon.
Economy In the late 1800’s HK ranked the 4th largest trading port in the world and it’s economy revolved around international trade. From the 50’s to 70’s manufacturing led the economy following an influx of a large number of immigrants willing to work long hours in factories. At that time, the phrase ‘made in Hong Kong’ was synonymous with ‘enjoy it today, because it’ll fall apart tomorrow’. Today most manufacturing has moved to the mainland –less than 7% manufacturing is done in Hong Kong. From the 80’s on, financial, real estate (now 21%) and retail, restaurants and hotels (43%) along with other service related fields make up the bulk (90%) of HK’s economy.
Economy Hong Kong has a hard working labor force of 3.5 million. As a ‘special administrative state’ of the Republic of China, one would not expect Hong Kong to have a free market economy. However, it does, and it is ranked 14th (US is 10th) in GDP per capita, which is a crude comparison of standard of living. It’s Gini score, however, is 53 (the average in developed countries is between 30 - 45). It is a measurement of how equally the riches are spread among it’s citizens (a society where everyone gets paid the same would have a zero Gini index and one where a single person gets all the money would have a score of 100.) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/hk.html#Intro Kowloon appartments
Although land usage for residents is restricted by both topography (too steep) and government restrictions, the western side of Kowloon is home to import/export shipping and the vast amount of land it requires for cargo storage.
Population Growth Over the next 30 years the Census and Statistics Dept. of HK expects an additional million and ½ people to be living in HK. Now that reclaiming the harbor for flat easily accessible land will no longer be allowed, one of three things may happen: - expansion of this already densely populated area will go upward (as will probably happen around the old airport strip, since height restrictions are lifted now that the airport has been moved) - expand outward into undeveloped territories (as was started in the 1970’s, (‘New Towns’ - pre-planned, self sustaining cities in the new territories has already resulted in 9 new developments with a population over 3 million.) - or expand slope side (apparently this must be the most difficult since most of the new towns are also built on reclaimed land). http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/towns&urban_developments.pdf http://alain-bertaud.com/images/HK_outline4.pdf
Transportation Hong Kong can boast one of the highestusage of public transportation in the world – up to 90% of daily commutes will be on some form of public transportation. (Wikipedia) Only about 500,000 cars are registered to a population of 7 million. They are most popular in the outer territories where public transportation is limited and parking abundant. Made up of islands and steep mountains, Hong Kong has had to overcome a series of difficult transportation dilemmas. Since the 1800’s, the ferry system is been in use and is still a cheap and beautiful way to cross the harbor. There is rail, subway, double decker trams and a bus system that will reach almost all areas. There are unique systems like the funicular tram going to the peak since the late 1800’s and the mid-level escalators of the 1990’s that bring mid-level apartment dwellers down to work till 10 AM and then reverse themselves to bring them back home!
Transportation Made up of islands and steep mountains, Hong Kong has had to overcome a series of difficult transportation dilemmas. Since the late 1800’s, the ferry system is been in use. It is still an inexpensive, beautiful way to cross the harbor. There is rail (from Kowloon to Canton (sine 1904), subway, double decker trams and a bus system that will reach almost all areas.
Transportation There are unique systems like the funicular tram going to the Peak since the late 1800’s. This system uses the weight of the down going tram to help lift the up going car –at times at a 45 degree angle. It takes only 8 minutes compared to a car that would have to zip-zag many, many times before reaching the top. 1897 Peak Tram
Public transportation for long distances:Ferry routes (white lines)Rail routes (Kowloon-Canton route since 1904) –black linesAirports (planes)
Public transportation for local distances: Ferries – Star Ferry operating since 1899 from Kowloon to Central Subway -(M markers) Trams – double-decker street trams – since 1904 Victoria Peak tram in use since1888 Buses/Taxis
Although 90% of the population uses public transportation because it is cheap, efficient and reliable, there is an extensive network of paved roads. Interestingly, most tunnels and bridges were built only recently over the past 10-30 years. Tunnels under Victoria Harbor connect Kowloon to Hong Kong Island Tunnels thru steep terrain connect the New Towns to Kowloon. On HK Island, the Aberdeen tunnel connects the north side to the south by going thru the center of the island.
Residence/Area of Work Residence HK Island Kowloon New Towns --------------------------------------------------------- HK Island 435,000 187,000 214,000 Place --------------------------------------------------------- of Kowloon 102,000 477,000 380,000 Work --------------------------------------------------------- New Towns 33,000 118,000 593,000 http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/major_projects/2001_population_census/main_tables/
Vertical (or Slope side) Transportation for Pedestrians In the early 1990’s construction began on what is known as the ‘mid-level escalators’ – a series of moving, covered, at times elevated, walkways - designed to bring those living at the mid-elevation housing down to the lower level work place. Although, the desired effect of relieving congestion in the lower levels was not realized, they are popular and frequently used. http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=&art_id=49217&sid=&con_type=1&d_str=19961106&sear_year=1996
Pedestrian Transportation over Major Roads Elevated Walkways near the ferry docks Since most pedetrians use the walkways, a second level for shopping and dining opens up…but what happens to the first level shops??