Hong Kong (, Hong Kong Cantonese: ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and commonly abbreviated as HK, is a special administrative region on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1104 km2 territory, Hong Kong is the world's fourth most densely populated region.
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The entire territory was transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong's system of government is separate from that of mainland China and its people overwhelmingly identify as Hongkongers rather than Chinese.
Originally a sparsely populated area of farming and fishing villages, the territory has become one of the world's most significant financial centres and commercial ports. It is the world's seventh-largest trading entity, and its legal tender (the Hong Kong dollar) is the world's 13th-most traded currency. Although the city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it has severe income inequality.
The territory has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world, most surrounding Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong ranks seventh on the UN Human Development Index, and has the sixth-longest life expectancy in the world. Although over 90 per cent of its population uses public transportation, air pollution from neighbouring industrial areas of mainland China has resulted in a high level of atmospheric particulates.
The name of the territory, first spelled "He-Ong-Kong" in 1780, originally referred to a small inlet between Aberdeen Island and the southern coast of Hong Kong Island. Aberdeen was an initial point of contact between British sailors and local fishermen. Although the source of the romanised name is unknown, it is generally believed to be an early phonetic rendering of the Cantonese pronunciation hēung góng. The name translates as "fragrant harbour" or "incense harbour". "Fragrant" may refer to the sweet taste of the harbour's freshwater influx from the Pearl River or to the odor from incense factories lining the coast of northern Kowloon. The incense was stored near Aberdeen Harbour for export before Victoria Harbour developed. Sir John Davis (the second colonial governor) offered an alternative origin; Davis said that the name derived from "Hoong-keang" ("red torrent"), reflecting the colour of soil over which a waterfall on the island flowed.
The simplified name Hong Kong was frequently used by 1810, also written as a single word. Hongkong was common until 1926, when the government officially adopted the two-word name. Some corporations founded during the early colonial era still keep this name, including Hongkong Land, Hongkong Electric, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.