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History of Hong Kong

The history of Hong Kong begins in 1842 at which time the Island known as Hong Kong, meaning "Fragrant Harbor," became the first British possession in China.

Before the British arrived there, Hong Kong was a small fishing community and a haven for travellers and pirates in the South China Sea . The British used the territory as a naval base during their Opium Wars with China .

China grew alarmed at this turn of events and attempted to throw the foreigners out. Opium was affecting the economy to an alarming degree and creating a society of addicts. The war of words ended when British gunboats were sent in. They managed to demolish a Chinese fleet of 29 ships with only two gunboats. The first Opium War went much the same way and, at its close in 1841, the island of Hong Kong was ceded to the British.

After the first of such wars, the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain. Sir Henry Pottinger was the territory's first governor. Following other fights and wars with the Chinese, Britain was given Kowloon and Stonecutter's Island in 1860. Lastly, the British aquired the New territories in 1898 on a 99-year contract. The territory grew as more people settled there with time. In the early 1900's. Hong Kong was a refuge for exiles from China, following the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912.

Following Japan's seizure of Manchuria in 1932, the Sino-Japanese war broke out. As Japan headed towards China, thousand of Chinese people came to Hong Kong, the number of refugees growing rapidly. On December 25, 1941, the British surrendered the territory to the Japanese army. U.S. submarines brought Japanese planes to Hong Kong to prepare there for further attacks on the East Asian region. After Japan's surrender in August of 1945, Britain reclaimed its territory.

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