Country Digest

Hong Kong population 2017

The population of Hong Kong in mid 2016 was estimated by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department to be 7,346,700. 

Updated data on the 2017 Hong Kong population is expected in February.

With a population of 7.35 million people, Hong Kong makes up 0.53% of the total population of China and is the sixteenth largest city in China.

Hong Kong used to be a British colony, but since 1997 it has been an autonomous territory within China. Because it has control over its own domestic policy, Hong Kong is sometimes classed as a sovereign state.

Hong Kong population map

Because of Hong Kong’s small size, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. In 2016, the population density of Hong Kong was 6,624 people per square kilometer or 17,156 people per square mile.

Life expectancy in Hong Kong is among the highest in the world, at 83.74 years (2015 data).

How many people live in Hong Kong today

The Hong Kong census and statistics department releases an estimate of the current population of Hong Kong every year.

The latest estimate, released in June 2016, showed that the number of people living in Hong Kong in mid-2016 was 7,346,700 people. A revised estimate showing the 2017 population is expected in February 2017.

The number of men living in Hong Kong was 3,370,100. The number of women was slightly higher, at 3,956,200.

Hong Kong is made up of three regions – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. The most recent statistics available for the population of all three of Hong Kong’s regions comes from 2011 and is as follows:

Hong Kong Island population1,270,876
Kowloon population2,108,419
New Territories population3,691,093

Hong Kong Census 2016

Hong Kong holds a full census every ten years and a by-census mid-way between each full census.

Hong Kong Census 2016

The last full census in Hong Kong was held in 2011, and the next one will be held in 2021. This census counted the entire population of Hong Kong.

The 2016 census will be a by-census. Instead of being sent to every household, a census form will be sent to around 10% of residential addresses in the territory. This should provide enough information to allow the government to provide updated estimates.

The 2016 by-census is due to start on 30 June and finish on 2 August.

You can read more about the 2011 census here, and the 2016 by-census here.

Hong Kong population growth

Population growth in Hong Kong has been relatively steady since the end of British rule in 1997. In recent years, the annual population increase in Hong Kong been between 0.6% and 0.9% per annum.

Here is a table listing the annual population growth rate in Hong Kong for each of the last five years.

Year end Population Increase
2011 7,112,400 0.9%
2012 1,177,900 0.9%
2013 7,221,800 0.6%
2014 7,266,500 0.6%
2015 7,324,300 0.8%

It shows that although Hong Kong’s overall growth rate has remained fairly consistent, growth has shifted from being driven by natural population increases (more births than deaths) to being driven by immigration.

Hong Kong’s natural population growth rate has slowed from 54,000 people in 2011 to 17,5000 people in 2015. At the same time, Hong Kong immigration rates are on the rise, increasing from 6,300 people in 2011 to 43,800 people in 2015.

Hong Kong population by year

Here is a table showing the population of Hong Kong by selected years since 1841.

Year HK Population
1841 7,450
1851 33,000
1881 160,402
1891 221,441
1901 283,978
1921 625,166
1931 849,800
1941 1,600,000
1945 500,000
1950 2,200,000
1960 3,000,000
1970 3,995,400
1981 5,109,812
1991 5,674,937
2001 6,708,389
2011 7,071,576

The table shows that there were dramatic changes in the HK population during and immediately after the second world war.

There were also significant population increases in the 1970s, when the government struggled to control illegal immigration from China, and in the early 1990s just before the transition from British to Chinese rule.

Hong Kong population density

Hong Kong is the fourth most densely populated country or territory in the world, after Macau (another autonomous territory within China), Monaco and Singapore.

If we know the size of a territory and the number of people who live in it, we can work out the population density by dividing Hong Kong population by the Hong Kong size.

At the start of 2016, Hong Kong’s population of 7,324,300 people lived in a territory of 1,106 km sq, or 427 square miles.

This puts the final population density of Hong Kong at 6,624 people per square kilometre, or 17,156 people per square mile.

Hong Kong6,624 per sq km
Hong Kong Island 16,390 per sq km
Kwun Tong district57,250 per sq km

Hong Kong Island is the most densely populated part of Hong Kong. It is home to 16,390 people per square km and 42,450 people per square mile.

The most densely populated district in Hong Kong is Kwun Tong in Kowloon. In 2014 its population density was 57,250 people per square kilometer. This puts it just outside of the 30 most densely populated districts in the world.

Ethnic groups in Hong Kong

The great majority of people in Hong Kong are ethnic Chinese, who made up 92.6% of the population at the time of the 2011 census.

The other three groups with more than 0.5% of the population are Filipino (1.9%), Indonesian (1.9%) and White (0.8%).

Ethnic Chinese92.6%
Filipino1.9%
Indonesian1.9%
White0.8%

Although the number of most ethnic groups has remained relatively stable in recent years, Hong Kong has seen a surge of immigration from Indonesians, whose numbers more than doubled from 50,494 in 2001 to 133,377 in 2011 and Pakistanis, whose numbers rose from 11,017 in 2001 to 18,042 in 2011.

What are people from Hong Kong called?

Technically, people who are resident in Hong Kong are called Hong Kong Permanent Residents.

However, more informally, residents of Hong Kong are commonly referred to as a Hong Konger (sometimes Hongkonger) or Hong Kongese (sometimes Hongkongese). Interestingly, in 2014 both words were included for the first time in the Oxford English Dictionary (see links).

A recent survey found that 38% of people in Hong Kong considered themselves to be Hong Kong Citizens whereas only 17% considered themselves to be Chinese citizens. A further 43% of the population of HK considered themselves to be both Hong Kong citizens and Chinese citizens.

Hong Kong Citizens38%
Chinese citizens17%
Hong Kong and Chinese citizens43%

Hong Kong language

Hong Kong has two official languages – Chinese and English.

Chinese became an official language in Hong Kong only in 1974 – before that English was the only official language. The official status of both languages is set out in the Hong Kong Basic Law.

In practice, Cantonese is the main variant of the Chinese language used in Hong Kong, although Mandarin (sometimes also referred to as Putonghua) is increasingly common.

Although English is one of Hong Kong’s two official languages, it is not spoken by the majority of people in Hong Kong. In fact, once we count people who speak it as a first or second language, it is the third most widely spoken language in Hong Kong, after Cantonese and Mandarin.

Cantonese95.8%
Mandarin47.8%
English46.1%

Cantonese is spoken by 95.8% of people in Hong Kong. It is spoken by 89.5% as a first language and by 6.3% as a second language.

Mandarin is spoken by 47.8% of people in Hong Kong. Although just 1.4% of Hong Kongers speak it is a first language, a much larger 46,5% can speak it as a second language.

English is spoken by 46.1% of Hong Kongers. It is the first language of just 3.5% of Hong Kong residents, and a second language of 46.1% of residents.

(Data from 2011 census.)

Hong Kong life expectancy

According to the UN, overall life expectancy in Hong Kong was 83.74 years in 2015.

Life expectancy for men in Hong Kong is 80.91 years and life expectancy for women in Hong Kong is 86.58 years.

Overall life expectancy83.74 years
Female life expectancy86.58 years
Male life expectancy80.91 years

This means that Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy of any country or territory in the world today.

Experts attribute this longevity to Hong Kong’s excellent health care system – it is thought to have some of the best private hospitals in the world – and a healthy lifestyle. Some argue that the lack of a statutory retirement age, which means that many Hongkongers work well into their seventies or eighties, is a factor.

Hong Kong demographics

Hong Kong birth rate and death rate

Hong Kong’s birth rate in 2014 was 8.6 births per 1,000 population. This means that Hong Kong has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, well below the replacement rate.

The birth rate has fallen from a high of 35 births per 1,000 population in the 1961.

The Hong Kong death rate (also known as mortality rate) is 6.2 deaths per 1,000 population. This figure has remained relatively stable over the past four decades.

Birth Rate8.6 births per 1,000 population
Death Rate6.2 deaths per 1,000 population

Hong Kong religion

Although religious freedom in Hong Kong is protected by the basic law, no official data on religion in Hong Kong is collected. As a result, most available figures are estimates.

The Hong Kong government estimates that there are more than 1 million Buddhists and more than 1 million Taoists in Hong Kong.

Buddhist1 million plus
Taoist1 million plus
Protestant480,000
Catholic379,000
Muslim300,000
Hindu100,000

The same government report indicates that there are 480,000 Protestant Christians and 379,000 Catholics in Hong Kong. Additionally, there are about 300,000 Muslims and 100,000 Hindus

Hong Kong literacy rate

The adult literacy rate in Hong Kong is 95.7%. This includes all adults, so the literacy rate among younger people from Hong Kong is likely to be significantly higher.

Where is Hong Kong?

Hong Kong is on the southern coast of China.

Hong Kong population map

To the north of Hong Kong is the Chinese province of Guangdong, which contains Guangzhou, the third largest city in China. The city of Shenzhen is just across the border from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is made up three regions – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories.

Hong Kong was ruled by Britain from 1842 until 1997, when sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred to China.

Today, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China.

This means that, although Hong Kong is formally a part of the People’s Republic of China, it has considerable autonomy when it comes to running its own day to day affairs. It has its own government and, with some restrictions, has control of its own domestic policy. Foreign affairs and defense are handled by the Chinese government in Beijing.

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