1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hong-Kong
HONG-KONG (properly Hiang-Kiang, the place of "sweet lagoons"), an important British island-possession, situated off the south-east coast of China, opposite the province of Kwang-tung, on the east side of the estuary of the Si-kiang, 38 m. E. of Macao and 75 S.E. of Canton, between 22° 9′ and 22° 1′ N., and 114° 5′ and 114° 18′ E. It is one of a small cluster named by the Portuguese “Ladrones” or Thieves, on account of the notorious habits of their old inhabitants. Extremely irregular in outline, it has an area of 29 sq. m., measuring 101 m. in extreme length from N.E. to S.W., and varying in breadth from 2 to 5 m. A good military road about 22 m. long encircles the island. From the mainland it is separated by a narrow channel, which at Hong-Kong roads, between Victoria, the island capital), and Kowloon Point, is about 1 m. broad, and which narrows at Ly-ee-mun Pass to little over a 1 m. The southern coast in particular is deeply indented; and there two bold peninsulas, extending for several miles into the sea, form two capacious natural harbours, namely, Deep Water Bay, with the village of Stanley to the east, and Tytam Bay, which has a safe, well-protected entrance showing a depth of
10 to 16 fathoms. An in-shore island on the west coast, called Aberdeen, or Taplishan, affords protection to the Shekpywan or Aberdeen harbour, an inlet provided with a granite graving dock, the caisson gate of which is 60 ft. wide, and the Hope dock, opened in 1867, with a length of 425 ft. and a depth of 24 ft. Opposite the same part of the coast, but nearly 2 m. distant, rises the largest of the surrounding islands, Lamma, whose conspicuous peak, Mount Stenhouse, attains a height of 1140 ft. and is a landmark for local navigation. On the northern shore of Hong-Kong there is a patent slip at East or Matheson Point, which is serviceable during the north-east monsoon, when sailing vessels frequently approach Victoria through the Ly-ee-mun Pass. The ordinary course for such vessels is from the westward, on which side they are sheltered by Green Island and Kellett Bank. There is good anchorage throughout the entire channel separating the island from the mainland, except in the Ly-ee-mun Pass, where the water is deep, the best anchorage is in Hong-Kong roads, in front of Victoria, where, over good holding ground, the depth is 5 to 9 fathoms. The inner anchorage of Victoria Bay, about m. off shore and out of the strength of the tide, is 6 to 7 fathoms. Victoria, the seat of government and of trade, is the chief centre of population, but a tract on the mainland is covered with public buildings and villa residences. Practically an outlying suburb of Victoria, Kowloon or (Nine Dragons) is free from the extreme heat of the capital, being exposed to the south-west monsoon. Numerous villas have also been erected along the beautiful western coast of the island, while Stanley, in the south, is favoured as a watering-place.
The island is mountainous throughout, the low granite ridges, parted by bleak, tortuous valleys, leaving in some places a narrow strip of level coast-land, and in others overhanging the sea in lofty precipices. From the sea, and especially from the magnificent harbour which faces the capital, the general aspect of Hong-kong is one of singular beauty. Inland the prospect is wild, dreary and monotonous. The hills have a painfully bare appearance from the want of trees. The streams, which are plentiful, are traced through the uplands and glens by a line of straggling brushwood and rank herbage. Nowhere is the eye relieved by the evidences of cultivation or fertility. The hills, which are mainly composed of granite, serpentine and syenite, rise in irregular masses to considerable heights, the loftiest point, Victoria Peak, reaching an altitude of 1825 ft. The Peak lies immediately to the south-west of the capital, in the extreme north-west corner of the island, and is used as a station for signalling the approach of vessels. Patches of land, chiefly around the coast, have been laid under rice, sweet potatoes and yams, but the island is hardly able to raise a home-supply of vegetables. The mango, lichen, pear and orange are indigenous, and several fruits and esculents have been introduced. One of the chief products is building-stone, which is quarried by the Chinese. The animals are few, comprising a land tortoise, the armadillo, a species of boa, several poisonous snakes and some woodcock. The public works suffer from the ravages of white ants. Water everywhere abounds, and is supplied to the shipping by means of tanks.
Under the Peking Treaty of 1860 the peninsula of Kowloon (about 5 m. in area) was added to Hong-Kong. The population is about 27,000. There are several docks and warehouses, and manufactures are being developed. Granite is quarried in the peninsula. An agreement was entered into in 1898 whereby China leased to Great Britain for ninety-nine years the territory behind Kowloon peninsula up to a line drawn from Mirs Bay to Deep Bay and the adjoining islands, including Lantao. The new district, which extends to 376 sq. m. in area, is mountainous, with extensive cultivated valleys of great fertility, and the coastline is deeply indented by bays. The alluvial soil of the valleys yields two crops of rice in the year. Sugar-cane, indigo, hemp, peanuts, potatoes of different varieties, yam, taro, beans, sesamum, pumpkins and vegetables of all kinds are also grown. The mineral resources are as yet unknown. The population is estimated at about 100,000. It consists of Puntis (or Cantonese), Hakkas (“strangers”) and Tankas. The Puntis are agricultural and inhabit the valleys, and they make excellent traders. The Hakkas are a hardy and frugal race, belonging mainly to the hill districts. The Tankas are the boat people or floating population. In the government of the new territory the existing organization is as far as possible utilized.
Hong-Kong or Victoria harbour constantly presents an animated appearance, as many as 240 guns having been fired as salutes in a single day. Its approaches are strongly fortified. The steaming distance from Singapore is 1520 m. Victoria, the capital, often spoken of as Hong-Kong (population over 166,000, of whom about 6000 are European or American), stretches for about 4 m. along the north coast. Its breadth varies from m in the central portions to 200 or 300 yds. in the eastern and western portions. The town is built in three layers. The “Praya” or esplanade, 50 ft. wide, is given up to shipping. The Praya reclamation scheme provided for the extension of the land frontage of 250 ft. and a depth of 20 ft. at all states of the tide. A further extension of the naval dockyard was begun in 1902, and a new commercial pier was opened in 1900. The main commercial street runs inland parallel with the Praya. Beyond the commercial portion, on each side, lie the Chinese quarters, wherein there is a closely packed population. In 1888, 1600 people were living in the space of a single acre, and over 100,000 were believed to be living within an area not exceeding m.; and the overcrowding does not tend to diminish, for in one district, in 1900, it was estimated that there were at the rate of 640,000 persons on the sq. m. The average, however, for the whole of the city is 126 per acre, or 80,640 per sq. m. The second stratum of the town lies ten minutes’ climb up the side of the island. Government house and other public buildings are in this quarter. There abound “beautifully laid out gardens, public and private, and solidly constructed roads, some of them bordered with bamboos and other delicately-fronded trees, and fringed with the luxuriant growth of semi-tropical vegetation.” Finally, the third layer, known as “the Peak,” and reached by a cable tramway, is dotted over with private houses and bungalows, the summer health resort of those who can afford them, here a new residence for the governor was begun in 1900. Excellent water is supplied to the town from the Pokfolum and Tytam reservoirs, the former containing 68 million gallons, the latter 300 millions.
|Chinese Civil||Total (including|
Military and Naval