The autonomous territory and former British colony in south-eastern China was born out of ashes of one of the lethal drugs in the world – opium.
Let’s take a look at the timeline of events that triggered the birth of one of the world’s current most significant financial centers and commercial ports.
1842 - With the denouement of the First Opium War in 1839, China surrenders the island of Hong Kong to Britain immediately.
Over the decades, thousands of Chinese migrants fled and domestic upheavals settled in the colony.
Opium routes between British-controlled India and China
“The Opium Ships at Lintin in China, 1824”
Print based on a painting by “W. J. Huggins, Marine Painter to His late Majesty William the 4th”
By: National Maritime Museum
OPIUM IMPORTS TO CHINA FROM INDIA
(1 chest = approximately 140 pounds)
1773 1,000 chests
1790 4,000 chests
early 1820s 10,000 chests
1828 18,000 chests
1839 40,000 chests
1865 76,000 chests
1884 81,000 chests (peak)
1898 - China leases the New Territories along with 235 islands to Britain.
The lease is to last 99 years.
Hong Kong seaport housing some of the British companies in operation in the late 1890s.
1937 - Hong Kong becomes a refuge for thousands of mainland Chinese fleeing from the advancing Japanese with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War.
1941 – The Japanese army inhabits Hong Kong.
Many Hong Kong citizens flee to mainland China as a result of food shortage.
The city’s population drops from 1.6 million in 1941 to 650,000 by the end of the Second World War.
1946 - Britain intervenes the war and reinstates civil government in Hong Kong.
Thousands of former residents return to their homeland.
Over the next few years, they are joined by refugees fleeing the civil war that waged between the Nationalists and the Communists in China.
1950s - Economic prosperity is enjoyed by the residents of Hong Kong through the establishment of light industries such as textile.
One of the first garment factories to be operated in Hong Kong in the 1950s.
1960s - Social discontent and labor disputes become widespread among the poorly-paid workforce.
1967 - Severe riots break out as a result of instigation by the followers of China's Cultural Revolution.
Late 1960s - Living conditions improve and social unrest subsides.
The British Regiment roaming the streets of the Chinese territory.
1970s - With a thriving economy based on high-technology industries, Hong Kong is established as an "Asian Tiger" - one of the region's economic powerhouses.
Countdown to handover
1982 - Britain and China discuss the future of Hong Kong.
1984 - Britain and China sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration which stated that sovereignty of Hong Kong should be transferred to China in 1997.
The constitutional principle "one country, two systems" is introduced under which Hong Kong should enjoy a high degree of autonomy.
Under this principle, Hong Kong will become part of one communist-led country but will retain its capitalist economic system and partially democratic political system for 50 years from the date of the handover.
June 1985: A 58-member Basic Law Drafting Committee is formed in Beijing to draw up Hong Kong's new mini-constitution - the Basic Law.
1989 - The massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators at China’s capital Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
This lead to calls for the introduction of further democratic safeguards in Hong Kong instead of Communist prowess.
1990 - Beijing formally ratifies Hong Kong's post-handover mini-constitution or Basic Law.
China's National People's Congress approves the final draft in April 1990.
1992 April - Conservative British politician Chris Patten takes up his post as Hong Kong's last British governor, with a brief to oversee the colony's handover to China.
1992 October - Chris Patten announces proposals for the democratic reformation of Hong Kong's institutions, aimed at broadening the voting base in elections.
China is outraged that it has not been consulted and threatens to tear up business contracts and overturn the reforms after it has taken control.
1992 December - Hong Kong stock market crashes.
1993 April - China and the UK resume negotiations on the future of Hong Kong after a hiatus of several months.
1994 June - After nearly two years of bitter wrangling, Hong Kong's legislature introduces a stripped-down version of Chris Patten's democratic reform package.
The new legislation widens the franchise but falls far short of providing for universal suffrage.
1995 - Elections held for new Legislative Council (LegCo).
1996 January - Beijing forms the 150-member Preparatory Committee of the Hong Kong SAR to appoint a 400-member Selection Committee that will choose Hong Kong's future Chief Executive.
One country, two systems
1997 July - Hong Kong is handed back to the Chinese authorities after more than 150 years of British control.
More than 4,000 troops from China's People's Liberation Army cross the border into Hong Kong in the early hours of the morning.
Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa, a Shanghai-born former shipping tycoon with no political experience, and the Provisional Legislative Council, are sworn in later in the day.
Tung Chee-hwa is hand-picked by Beijing to rule the territory following the takeover.
1998 May - First post-handover elections held.
Voters turned out in record numbers for elections of Legislative Council.
They returned to office pro-democracy politicians ousted by Beijing.
The Democrats won 13 of 60 seats in the legislature.
2001 February - Deputy Chief Executive Anson Chan, a former deputy to Chris Patten and one of the main figures in the Hong Kong administration to oppose Chinese interference in the territory's affairs, resigns under pressure from Beijing and is replaced by Donald Tsang.
2002 June - Trial of 16 members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, who are found guilty of causing a public obstruction, are arrested during the protest outside Beijing's liaison office in the territory.
Falun Gong remains legal in Hong Kong, despite having been banned in mainland China in 1999, and the trial is seen as a test of the freedoms.
Beijing guaranteed to respect after the handover.
2002 September - Tung Chee-hwa's administration releases proposals for controversial new anti-subversion law known as Article 23.
2002 December - Martin Lee, Hong Kong's pre-eminent champion of democracy, steps down as leader of the territory's most popular political party.
Followed by, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people took part in one of the territory's biggest marches in years, denouncing plans for an anti-subversion law they fear will erode freedom and civil liberties.
2003 March-April - Both China and Hong Kong get hit by the pneumonia-like Sars virus.
Strict quarantine measures are enforced to stop the disease spreading, where more than 200 residents in an apartment block are quarantined in an effort to contain the virus.
Hong Kong is declared free of Sars in June.
Calls for reform
2003 June - Hong Kong and China sign a free-trade agreement, the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
2003 July - 500,000 people march against Article 23 that measures targeting crimes against the state a day after the visit to the territory by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
A planned anti-subversion law sparked protests in 2003; Article 23 was subsequently shelved
The protest overshadowed the 6th anniversary of the handover of the territory from Britain to China.
Two Hong Kong government members resign.
The bill is shelved indefinitely.
Tung Chee-hwa withdrew parts of the anti-subversion bill that triggered the massive street protests.
2003 September - Tung Chee-hwa withdrew his governments’ controversial Article 23 internal security bill.
2003 November - Hong Kong residents vote in elections seen as a showdown between pro-Beijing politicians and democratic candidates.
Voters turned out in record numbers to hand the territory's top pro-Beijing party a stunning defeat in local elections.
2004 January - Hong Kong begins a de facto free-trade agreement with mainland China.
2004 April - China issues a major ruling on how Hong Kong would choose its leaders, saying the territory must seek approval from China-proposed political reforms to Beijing for approval for any changes to Hong Kong's election laws.
This gave Beijing the right to veto any moves towards more democracy, such as direct elections for the territory's chief executive.
Thousands of Hong Kong residents demand full democracy and called on their unpopular leader to quit as they marched past Beijing's representative office.
Mainland China lands a crushing blow to Hong Kong's hopes for full democracy when its most powerful legislative panel ruled the territory won't have direct elections for its next leader in 2007 or for all its lawmakers in 2008.
2004 July - Some 200,000 people mark the seventh anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese rule by taking part in a demonstration protesting Beijing's ruling against electing the next chief executive by universal suffrage.
Hundreds of thousands of people march in Hong Kong to demand democratic rights from China.
Britain accuses China of interfering in Hong Kong's constitutional reform process in a manner inconsistent with self-governance guarantees agreed before the handover.
2004 September - Pro-Beijing parties retain their majority in LegCo elections widely seen as a referendum on Hong Kong's aspirations for greater democracy. In the run-up to the poll, human rights groups accuse Beijing of creating a "climate of fear" aimed at skewing the result.
2004 December - Chinese President Hu Jintao delivers a public rebuke to Tung Chee-hwa, telling him to improve his administration's performance.
Change of guard
2005 March - Amid mounting criticism of his rule, Tung Chee-hwa resigns, citing failing health and repeatedly denied China’s speculation that pushed him out in a bid to tighten its grip on the former British colony.
He is succeeded by Donald Tsang in June, who took office as interim leader of Hong Kong.
Donald Tsang: controversy over links with tycoons dogged his last months as chief executive
2005 May - Hong Kong's highest court overturns the convictions of eight of the Falun Gong members who were found guilty of causing an obstruction in the territory in 2002.
2005 June - Tens of thousands of people commemorate the sixteenth anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.
Hong Kong is the only part of China where the 1989 events are marked.
Donald Tsang wins Hong Kong's leadership race, filing papers that showed he had the solid backing of an election committee that picks the Chinese territory's leaders.
China appoints Donald Tsang as Hong Kong's new leader for the next 2 years.
The veteran civil servant expressed confidence the territory will become more democratic
2005 September - Pro-democracy members of LegCo make an unprecedented visit to the Chinese mainland.
Eleven members of the 25-strong pro-democracy group had been banned from the mainland for 16 years.
They put their case for electoral reform directly to a Chinese communist leader for the first time but complained that they were rebuffed.
2005 December - Pro-democracy legislators block Mr Tsang's plans for limited constitutional reforms, saying they do not go far enough.
Mr Tsang said his plans - which would have changed electoral processes without introducing universal suffrage - went as far as Beijing would allow.
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Hong Kong to pressure the government to speed up political reforms that would allow voters to pick the territory’s leader and entire legislature.
2006 March - Pope Benedict XVI elevates Bishop Joseph Zen, the leader of Hong Kong's 300,000 Catholics and an outspoken advocate of democracy, to the post of cardinal.
China warns Cardinal Zen to stay out of politics.
2006 July - Tens of thousands of people rally in support of full democracy, while a pro-Beijing parade also drew a big crowd to mark the ninth anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule.
2007 January - New rules aim to restrict the number of pregnant women from mainland China who come to Hong Kong to give birth.
Many had been drawn by the prospect of gaining Hong Kong residency rights for their children and evading China's one-child policy.
2007 March - Incumbent Donald Tsang trounces his challenger in Hong Kong's first contested leadership race since it returned to Chinese rule, but the losing candidate said the vote was rigged and demanded greater democracy.
Tsang beat pro-democracy lawmaker Alan Leong 649-123 in the vote by an election committee loaded with tycoons and other elites.
2007 April - Chief Executive Donald Tsang is appointed to a new five-year term after winning elections in March.
2007 July - Hong Kong marks the 10th anniversary of handover to China.
One country, two systems: Hong Kong celebrated the 10th anniversary of the handover from British to Chinese rule in 2007
The new government under Chief Executive Donald Tsang is sworn in.
Plans for full democracy unveiled.
The Umbrella Movement
2007 October - Thousands of people marched through Hong Kong's streets to demand the right to pick their city's leader and legislature and hoisted yellow umbrellas to form the year 2012, their target year for full democracy.
2007 December - Beijing says it will allow the people of Hong Kong to directly elect their own leader in 2017 and their legislators by 2020.
Mr Tsang hails this as "a timetable for obtaining universal suffrage", but pro-democracy campaigners express disappointment at the protracted timescale.
2008 September - Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp wins more than a third of seats in legislative elections, retaining a key veto over future bills.
2009 June - Tens of thousands of people attend a vigil in Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The territory is the only part of China to mark the anniversary.
2009 December - Hong Kong authorities unveil proposals for political reform in response to pressure for greater democracy, including an enlarged Legislative Council; critics say the moves do not go far enough.
2010 January - Thousands of Hong Kong residents march to the Chinese government's liaison office demanding that Beijing grant full democracy to the semi-autonomous financial hub.
5 pro-democracy lawmakers resign their seats, vowing to turn the resulting elections into a populist campaign for universal suffrage in defiance of warnings from China.
2010 May - Five opposition MPs are returned to their seats, in by-elections, they triggered by quitting - a move intended to pressure China to grant the territory full democracy.
Opposition Democratic Party, traditionally hostile to Beijing, holds its first talks with a Chinese official since the 1997 handover.
2010 June - Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents mark the bloody 1989 Tiananmen crackdown with a candle-lit vigil, as agitation against Beijing intensifies in the former British colony.
Pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators attack a proposal for limited political reforms made by the territory's Beijing-appointed government and tried to stall a vote expected to go in the administration's favor.
Hong Kong's legislature agree to add 10 elected seats, completing a set of Beijing-backed electoral changes that critics say to reinforce the territory's undemocratic political system.
2010 July - Hong Kong adopts its first minimum wage law, but no rate has yet been set.
2011 October - 500 people gather in the heart of the financial district to express their anger at the inequities and excesses of free-market capitalism.
Election and public decry
2012 March - Hong Kong holds elections for a new chief executive.
Only 1,200 people, handpicked from the populations, were eligible to vote. Henry Tang Ying-Yen (57) won.
The self-made millionaire property consultant won the leadership election with 689 votes.
2012 April - In Hong Kong some 15 thousand people noisily protested against the city's incoming leader, Leung Chun-ying, and decried
Beijing's alleged interference in the election that propelled him to office.
2012 June - Chinese President Hu Jintao urged Hong Kong's restive people to embrace the motherland as he visited the financial citadel for the 15th anniversary of its return to rule by Beijing.
2012 July - Leung Chun-ying takes office as chief executive, succeeding Donald Tsang whose last months in office were dogged by controversy over his links with wealthy businessmen.
2012 September - Pro-democracy parties retain their power of veto over new laws in Legislative Council elections but perform less well than expected. Turnout, at over 50%, was higher than in 2008.
2013 January - Thousands of demonstrators in the rival march toward the crowded main shopping district to praise or condemn chief executive Leung Chun-ying.
Critics accused him of misleading the public on a controversial real estate deal and of being a puppet installed by Beijing.
2013 June - Hundreds march in support of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong after exposing secret US surveillance programs.
More than 90% of the nearly 800,000 people taking part in an unofficial referendum vote in favor of giving the public a say in short-listing candidates for future elections of the territory's chief executive.
Beijing condemns the vote as illegal.
2013 July – Residents take the streets in protest, demanding that Leung Chun-ying, their widely disliked Beijing-backed leader, resign and pressing for promised democratic reforms so they can choose their own top representative.
2014 July - Tens of thousands of protesters take part in what organizers say could be Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy rally in a decade.
Fears about the potential erosion of democratic freedoms grew in 2014
2014 August - Chinese government rules out a fully democratic election for Hong Kong leader in 2017, saying that only candidates approved by Beijing will be allowed to run.
2014 September-November - Pro-democracy demonstrators occupy the city center for weeks in protest at the Chinese government's decision to limit voters' choices in the 2017 Hong Kong leadership election.
More than 100,000 people took to the streets at the height of the Occupy Central protests.
2014 December - Authorities take down Mong Kok protest camp, leaving a few hundred protesters at two camps at Admiralty and Causeway Bay.
Hong Kong tycoon and former government official Thomas Kwok are sentenced to five years in jail in the city's biggest-ever corruption case.
2015 - Hong Kong's population is about 7.3 bn.
The yellow umbrella of democracy
2015 June - Thousands of people, many holding yellow umbrellas, march to urge lawmakers to vote down Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year.
Hong Kong's legislature vetoes a China-backed electoral reform package criticized by opposition pro-democracy lawmakers and activists as undemocratic, easing, for now, the prospect of fresh mass protests in the financial hub.
Legislative Council rejects proposals for electing the territory's next leader in 2017.
Despite pro-democracy protests and a lengthy consultation process, the plans remained the same as those outlined by China in 2014.
2015 July - Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters marched for full democracy and called on the Chinese-controlled city's leader to resign.
2016 August - Hundreds of protesters rally against the disqualification of six pro-independence candidates from Legislative Council elections on 4 September.
2016 September - A new generation of pro-independence activists win seats in Legislative Council elections in the highest turnout since the 1997 handover from Britain to China.
2016 November - Thousands of people gather in central Hong Kong to show their support for China's intervention in the territory's political affairs after Beijing moves to have two pro-independence legislators removed from office.
The high court disqualifies pro-independence legislators Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-Ching from taking their seats in the Legislative Council after they refused to pledge allegiance to China during a swearing-in ceremony.
2016 December - Chief Executive CY Leung announces he will not see re-election when his current term ends on July 2017, citing family reasons.
In 2017 Hong Kong marked 20 years since the city's handover from British to Chinese rule
2017 February - Former chief executive Donald Tsang is sentenced to 20 months in prison for misconduct in public office after he was accused of concealing private rental negotiations with a property tycoon for a luxury apartment in China, in return for awarding its owner a broadcasting license.
2017 March - CY Leung's deputy Carrie Lam wins the Electoral College to become the next chief executive.
2017 June - Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Hong Kong to swear in Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and uses his visit to warn against any attempt to undermine China's influence over the special administrative region.
2017 January - Demonstrations against moves to base officials from mainland China in the territory.
2019 June - Major protests force authorities to postpone controversial law that would allow the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to China.
2047 – Hong Kong’s status as the special administrative region of China is scheduled to expire.
By the end of this decree, Hong Kong is guaranteed freedom of press and expression.