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Updated: March 2009

Hong Kong

Overview | World Vision's history in Hong Kong | World Vision in Hong Kong today


Located in Eastern Asia, this country is officially referred to as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as a result of its relationship with China, which lies to the north. This hilly and mountainous peninsula and group of more than 200 islands is surrounded by the South China Sea. The climate is tropical with cool, humid winters and hot, rainy summers. Natural resources include a massive deepwater harbor and feldspar, a type of mineral.

Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world, and its inhabitants Hong Kong is composed primarily of ethnic Chinese, though Filipinos, Indonesians, and a few other ethnic groups have small representations. Cantonese—a Chinese dialect—and English are the official languages; Cantonese is spoken by nearly 90 percent of the population, and more than one-third of the people in Hong Kong speak English as a second language.

Country statistics 
Population7 million
Land mass402.3 square miles
People per square mile17,446.3
Life expectancy81.77 years
Under age 5 mortality rateN/A
Literacy rate93.5%
Access to safe waterN/A
Average annual incomeN/A
Mixture of local religions 90%

Originally settled by the Han Chinese in the seventh century, Hong Kong received an influx of Chinese migrants during the Sung Dynasty, which lasted from 960 to 1279. Following the arrival of the British trading company in the late-1600, Hong Kong began participating in trade with British merchants. In 1842, following a 3-year war, China surrendered control of Hong Kong to Britain. The British worked hard to expand Hong Kong’s territory, and their rule lasted for more than150 years. China regained control in 1997, promising Hong Kong a high level of autonomy, including the ability to maintain its own political, economic, and judicial systems for 50 years. Today, Hong Kong continues under the administration of China, using the name “Hong Kong China” for international agreements.

The country’s economy has been flourishing since the years following World War II, when China fell to communists and a large group of Chinese migrated to Hong Kong, bolstering the growth of industry. In the decades since, the country has continued to prosper, most recently witnessing a decline in unemployment. Hong Kong imports both food and raw materials, and it maintains an open, free-market economy in which trade plays a vital role. The country is a center for tourism, and in recent years, services have come to account for more than 90 percent of the gross domestic product.

Hong Kong has a full-time education system that is required between the ages of 6 and 15. However, most children receive additional schooling; many begin preschool at age 3, and after completing six years of primary school and a three-year junior secondary program, students often remain for an additional two years of secondary education. The average citizen receives 13.8 years of schooling.

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World Vision's history in Hong Kong

World Vision’s involvement in Hong Kong began in 1960 when donor support enabled World Vision to launch the “Oriental Boat Mission”—a floating ministry that provided assistance to families living on boats in Hong Kong’s harbor.

In 1962, two major typhoons hit Hong Kong in succession, claiming numerous lives and ravaging much of the city. After assessing the damage and initiating relief and reconstruction efforts, World Vision officially opened an office in Hong Kong, and the first child from the area was sponsored soon after.

World Vision’s work in the 1960s focused primarily on supporting church and mission-run schools and shelters. The organization also provided assistance to those living in impoverished circumstances in Hong Kong. By the end of the decade, around 1,950 children had been sponsored through various relief and education programs.

During the 1970s, Hong Kong grew in prosperity. As the government began playing a stronger role in social welfare, World Vision slowly started phasing out its relief and development projects.

In the early 1980s, the national Hong Kong office started raising funds to support World Vision’s global ministry through child sponsorship and other programs. World Vision’s Hong Kong office also organized project visits, educational talks, and famine activities (similar to the 30 Hour Famine in the U.S.) to raise public awareness on the issues surrounding hunger and poverty.

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World Vision in Hong Kong today

Today, the people of Hong Kong sponsor some 136,000 children and provide life-changing assistance to children and families across 45 countries.

For more information about World Vision’s work in Hong Kong, please contact the United States office.

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World Vision
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