Hong Kong, on the southern coast of China, is made up of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon peninsula, the New Territories and several other small islands. The harbour, seven miles of deep sheltered water at Hong Kong's heart, is the source of the region's reputation as one of the greatest trading ports in Asia.
On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China.
Under the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems', the Hong Kong SAR has its own constitution, the Basic Law, and enjoys a high degree of autonomy from the rest of China, except in the areas of foreign affairs and defence. For at least fifty years from the date of the handover, its economic and social systems and way of life will remain unchanged. Fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed in Hong Kong through the commitments made in the Joint Declaration and enshrined in the Basic Law.
Nearly 6.5 million people live in Hong Kong, 95% of whom are ethnic Chinese. Under the principle of 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong', the SAR is headed by a Chief Executive supported by an Executive Council and Legislative Council, and an impartial and professional civil service.