Early & Middle Ages
Life existed in Hong Kong even 6000 years ago. At that time, life was heavily dependent on the sea. As in other parts of the world, life was full of struggle.
Recently, archaeologists have discovered the remnants of two main neolithic cultures side by side. Chunks of crass, cord-marked pottery have been found with fine, soft, decorated pottery. Humans developed gradually with time. In the mid-third millennium BC, new pottery adorned with a range of geometric patterns was found.
Qin and Han Dynasties
Under the reign of the Qin (221 - 206BC) and Han (206BC - AD220), people arrived from Chinese mainland in Hong Kong and settled there. They brought with them their culture and lifestyle which left its impression on the locals. Coins and other objects of this period have been discovered in Hong Kong.
Europeans in Hong Kong
Hong Kong came under western influence in the 15th century, thanks to the increased trade in Chinese products, such as silk and tea through the Silk Road which ran from northwestern China to eastern Europe. The Europeans became interested in Hong Kong's safe harbour. The Portuguese are credited to be the first Europeans to reach China in 1555. But it were the British who became most powerful westerners in Hong Kong and China.
Britain's efforts to force opium on China resulted in two wars, which are known as the Opium Wars. At Canton, now known as Guangzhou, British traders resided and worked in a small enclave. Highly profitable opium trade heavily flourished in Canton and made the Chinese opium-addicted. When the Chinese emperor tried to stamp out the opium trade in Canton, it resulted it military confrontation with the British.
First Opium War (1840-42) broke out, ending in the British occupation of Hong Kong. Outdated Chinese navy and army failed to resist the British military juggernaut. Second Opium War (1856-1860) again resulted in Chinese defeat and the British gained the control of Kowloon peninsula. The British applied more pressure on China and got the New Territories on lease for 99 years i.e. 1898 to 1997.
Under the British occupation, Hong Kong evolved from a trading outpost to a settlement. Chaos in China in 1850s and 1860s resulted in influx of refugees in Hong Kong. Hong Kong also saw the segregation of society in two: Wealthy Westerners and poor Chinese.
Development in Hong Kong was in full swing by the 1880s. Ships, trains and telegraph linked it not only to the Chinese mainland to all major parts of the world. Modern education was introduced. Steam-powered tram to Victoria Peak, which was first cable railway in Asia, was introduced.
World War & After
World War II
The British ruled Hong Kong was over-run by Japanese forces by the end of 1941. The occupation continued for four painful years. However, dropping of atom bombs over Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki forced the Japanese to surrender in 1945 and the British regained the control of the island. Once again, the Union Jack was hoisted at the government buildings of Hong Kong.
Post-war years saw the loosening of colonial taboo. The Chinese population was given the right, which it was once deprived of. By the late 1940s, Chinese communist forces defeated the nationalist forces in the Civil War. This resulted in huge influx of refugees from mainland China to Hong Kong. The colonial government had to take several to provide food and shelter to the refugees.
Making of Modern Hong Kong
By 1960s, Hong Kong had evolved into a major manufacturing centre. Infrastructure was built at rapid pace. However, Hong Kong also faced some imminent problems related to capitalism during this period. These were followed by major social reforms. In the meantime, China was sending waves that it still considered Hong Kong a Chinese territory.
The British lease of the New Territories was ending in 1997. This brought them to the negotiating table with the Chinese government. After hectic parleys through several years, both parties agreed to issue a joint delcaration about the handover of Hong Kong to China with the status of specially administered territory.