Hong Kong (Chinese: 香港), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the other being Macau. The territory lies on the eastern side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east, west and south. Beginning as a trading port in the 19th century, Hong Kong has developed into a leading financial centre.
Hong Kong was a crown colony of the United Kingdom from 1842 until the transfer of its sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997. The Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulate that Hong Kong operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2047, fifty years after the transfer. Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defence and foreign affairs, while Hong Kong maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy, and delegates to international organisations and events.
Human settlement in the location now known as Hong Kong dates back to the Paleolithic era. In 1839, the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain. Hong Kong was then occupied by British forces.
In conjunction with its military campaign in World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on December 8, 1941. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, civilians suffered from widespread food shortages caused by imposed rations, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. The United Kingdom resumed control of the colony following Japan's defeat in the war.
The Basic Law of Hong Kong, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990. The transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong occurred at midnight on July 1, 1997, marked by a handover ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Tung Chee Hwa assumed office as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong.