Perched on the southeastern tip of China, Hong Kong is a city of contrasts: a place where East meets West, old meets new, and modern skyscrapers and huge shopping malls coexist with colonial buildings and traditional Chinese temples.
The territory was a former British crown colony from 1842 until July 1, 1997, when sovereignty was handed over to China. It is now formally known as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China, ruled under a special policy of "One Country, Two Systems", largely self-governed and with a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign affairs and national defense. Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini constitution, the city will maintain its own legal, economic and political systems for at least 50 years after the handover, or until 2047, when full control reverts to the Chinese government.
Hong Kong is divided into four distinct regions: Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon peninsula, the New Territories and Outlying Islands, covering a total area of 1,104 sq km (426 sq miles).
The central business district is located on Hong Kong Island, which is also the financial and historical center. Hong Kong Island is separated from the Kowloon peninsula by the historically important Victoria Harbor, one of the world's most renowned deepwater ports.