a former British crown colony off the south-east coast of China CultureHong KongHong Kong, which means ‘Fragrant Harbour’ in Chinese, is a former British Crown Colony off the south-east coast of China. The colony consisted of Hong Kong Island, many smaller islands, and the mainland areas of Kowloon (‘Nine Dragons’) and the New Territories. British opium traders working for the East India Company began using Hong Kong Island's harbour in the 1820s. The island was occupied by the British during the first Opium War and was handed over to them by China in 1842 at the end of the war. Kowloon was gained in 1860 following the second Opium War. In 1898 the colony again increased in size when the New Territories were leased to Britain for a period of 99 years. On 30 June 1997 Hong Kong was handed over to China and it is now a Special Administrative Region of China.Under British rule Hong Kong became a successful manufacturing, business and financial centre. The population of six million people, mostly Chinese, enjoyed a high standard of living and the wealth of Hong Kong attracted people from other countries in the Far East.British control of Hong Kong became an embarrassment to China, and there were great celebrations in Beijing when the colony was returned to Chinese rule. In 1984 the British and Chinese negotiated an agreement to preserve the existing economic system and way of life for at least 50 years after the handover. As a British dependency (= a country governed and controlled by Britain), Hong Kong was ruled by a governor appointed by the Queen, but in practice he agreed to all measures passed by the local, democratically elected Legislative Council. A Chinese governor appointed by the authorities in Beijing took over in 1997.A 'Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement' with mainland China was signed in 2003.