The Evolution of Hong Kong: From Ancient History to Modern Metropolis

Today, Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis known for its strong economy, rich history, and dynamic cultural scene. The city has an impressive economy, as Hong Kong citizens today earn an average of $46,000 USD and have a GDP of $341 billion USD. This makes them the 33rd largest economy when compared to other countries, and 17th largest when counting by the average income.

In fact, many international companies, including this financial firm, have offices in Hong Kong due to the city’s strong economy and location. 

However, it hasn’t always been that way. Unlike other large cities across the globe, Hong Kong is a relatively new metropolis. In fact, it only started to truly take off in the later half of the 20th century. This article will explore the complete evolution of the Hong Kong region, from ancient history to modern times. 

Imperial China Era

The lands where Hong Kong is today were loosely part of China during the Qin dynasty, and even part of the kingdom of Nam Viet. It wasn’t until the 1200’s that the Hong Kong area would receive its first proper population boom, as the Mongol invasion of China would bring many refugees into modern day Hong Kong.

Still, due to the hilliness of the region it was still sparsely populated apart from a few walled villages. In the 17th century, the Great Clearance policy would wipe out much of the region’s population as some 16,000 people were forced to move from the region as the Qing dynasty sought to stamp out an ongoing rebellion.

The ban would be lifted in 1683, and the area would become sparsely populated again and remain a cluster of small villages until the British gained control of the region and colonized the area and constructed military outposts and trading ports along the coast. 

At the time of the British arriving in Hong Kong, the population of the region was estimated to be just 7,450, consisting mostly of Tanka fishermen and Hakka charcoal burners, according to Wikipedia’s page on the History of Hong Kong

Colonial Hong Kong

In 1840, Hong Kong would become territory of the United Kingdom as a result of the First Opium War, beginning the colonial era of the region. Becoming the major international trading and financial center of the region, Hong Kong quickly grew in population and economy as it developed new industries.

The British invested a lot in the urban development of the region, building ports, roads, rails, and countless buildings throughout Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong briefly came under Japanese occupation during World War II, and faced tremendous hardships and suffering. Ultimately however, they recovered after a period of reconstruction. 

In 1997, the British officially handed Hong Kong back to China, marking an end to over 150 years of colonial occupation. 

Modern Hong Kong

Today, Hong Kong exists as a special administrative region of China. It has a population of 7.4 million people according to, which is just about 1,000 times greater than the population of the region just a few hundred years ago. 

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