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Hong Kong

Area: 1,104.3 sq. km.; Hong Kong comprises Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and numerous small islands.
Terrain: Hilly to mountainous, with steep slopes and a natural harbor.
Climate: Tropical monsoon. Cool and humid in winter, hot and rainy in spring and summer, warm and sunny in fall.

Population (July 2010 est.): 7.089 million.
Population growth rate (2010 est.): 0.476%.
Ethnic groups: Chinese 95%; other 5%.
Religions: About 43% participate in some form of religious practice.
Languages: Cantonese (a dialect of Chinese) and English are official.
Literacy: 97.1% (98.7% male, 95.4% female).
Health (2009): Infant mortality rate--1.6/1,000. Life expectancy--83 yrs. (overall); 79.8 yrs. male, 86.1 yrs. female
Work force (2009): 3.68 million.
Work force (by occupation, 2008): Wholesale, retail, and import/export trades and restaurants and hotels--33.5%; finance, insurance, real estate, and business services--16.6%; manufacturing--4.6%.
GDP (2009): $209.3 billion (at current market prices).
GDP real growth rate (2009): negative 2.8%.
Per capita GDP (2009): $29,879 (at current market prices).
Natural resources: Deepwater harbor.
Industry: Types--textiles, clothing, electronics, plastics, toys, watches, clocks.
Trade (2009): Exports--$316.5 billion: clothing, electronics, textiles, watches and clocks, office machinery, electrical machinery, telecommunications equipment. Major partners--Mainland China 51.1%, U.S. 11.6%, EU 7.1%, Japan 4.4%. Imports--$345.1 billion: consumer goods, raw materials and semi-manufactures, capital goods, foodstuffs, fuels. Major partners--Mainland China 46.4%, Japan 8.8%, Singapore 6.5%, Taiwan 6.5%, U.S. 5.3%.

Hong Kong's population has increased steadily over the past decade, reaching 7.026 million in 2009. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with an overall density of some 6,339 people per square kilometer. Cantonese, the official Chinese dialect in Hong Kong, is spoken by most of the population. English, also an official language, is widely understood and is spoken by more than one-third of the population. Every major religion is practiced freely in Hong Kong. All children are required by law to be in full-time education between the ages of 6 and 15. Starting in 2008, the Hong Kong Government expanded the length of free education it offers from 9 to 12 years. Preschool education for most children begins at age 3. Primary school begins normally at age 6 and lasts for 6 years. At about age 12, children progress to a 3-year course of junior secondary education; at age 15, they can choose to continue with 3-year senior secondary education or to join full-time vocational training. More than 90% of children complete upper secondary education or equivalent vocational education. In 2009, 296,000 students were enrolled in post-secondary education. Over 25% of the total population aged 15 and over have attended post-secondary educational institutions
Hong Kong is one of the world's most open and dynamic economies. In 2009 Hong Kong¡¯s real economic growth fell by 2.8% as a result of the global financial turmoil. In response to the economic crisis, the Hong Kong Government unveiled several stimulus measures worth 5.2% of GDP that were targeted at the poorest Hong Kong residents. The government also offered guarantees for savings deposits and small-and medium-enterprise loans, and injected massive amounts of liquidity into the banking system to restore confidence. The banking system¡¯s high capital reserves and limited exposure to structured products protected it from the worst of the global financial crisis. External trade, a significant component of Hong Kong¡¯s economy, was severely hit as many of Hong Kong¡¯s major trading partners continued to struggle in 2009. Exports and imports of goods decreased by 12.6% and 11.0% respectively.

Despite the downturn, Hong Kong¡¯s economic strengths, including a sound banking system, virtually no public debt, a strong legal system, ample foreign exchange reserves, and an able and rigorously enforced anti-corruption regime, enable it to quickly respond to changing circumstances. The government promotes measures designed to improve its attractiveness as a commercial and trading center and is continually refining its financial architecture. The government is deepening its economic interaction with the Pearl River Delta in an effort to maintain Hong Kong's position as a gateway to China. These efforts include the conclusion of a free trade agreement with China, known as the ¡°Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement¡± (CEPA), which applies zero tariffs to all Hong Kong-origin goods, gives preferential treatment in over 40 service sectors, and increases the scope for using the Chinese yuan in Hong Kong as a trade settlement currency, in savings deposits, and to purchase RMB (renminbi)-denominated bonds. Hong Kong, along with the Macau SAR, is also participating in a new pan-Pearl River Delta trade block with nine Chinese provinces, which aims to lower trade barriers among members, standardize regulations, and improve infrastructure.

Hong Kong¡¯s exports of goods and services rebounded strongly in the first quarter of 2010, by 21.6% and 17.9% respectively in real terms, fueled by quicker than expected recovery of the global economy and a massive Chinese fiscal and monetary stimulus program. Hong Kong¡¯s first-quarter 2010 GDP grew 8.2% from the previous year. The unemployment rate in the first quarter dropped to 4.4%, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2008. The Hong Kong Government predicts GDP growth will exceed 5% in 2010.

U.S. companies have a generally favorable view of Hong Kong's business environment, including its legal system and the free flow of information, low taxation, and infrastructure

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