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26 octobre 2011 3 26 /10 /octobre /2011 06:08

Hong Kong[note 3] (Chinese: ??) is one of two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People's Republic of China(PRC), the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta andSouth China Sea,[13] it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour. Sony VAIO VGN-Z56TG/B Battery

With a land mass of 1,104 km2(426 sq mi) and a population of seven million people, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.[14]Hong Kong's population is 95 percent ethnic Chinese and 5 percent from other groups.[15] Hong Kong's Han Chinese majority originate mainly from the cities of Guangzhou and Taishan in the neighbouring Guangdong province.Sony VAIO VGN-Z56TG/E Battery

Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839–42). Originally confined to Hong Kong Island, the colony's boundaries were extended in stages to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 and then the New Territories in 1898. It was occupied by Japan during the Pacific War, after which the British resumed control until 1997, when China resumed sovereignty.Sony VAIO VGN-Z56TG/R Battery

The region espoused minimum government intervention under the ethos of positive non-interventionism during the colonial era.[19] The time period greatly influenced the current culture of Hong Kong, often described as "East meets West",[20] and the educational system, which used to loosely follow the system in England until reforms implemented in 2009.Sony VAIO VGN-Z570N/B Battery

Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong has a different political system from mainland China.Hong Kong's independent judiciary functions under the common law framework. The Basic Law of Hong Kong, its constitutional document, which stipulates that Hong Kong shall have a "high degree of autonomy" in all matters except foreign relations and military defence, governs its political system.Sony VAIO VGN-Z57G Battery

Although it has a burgeoning multi-party system, a small-circle electorate controls half of its legislature. An 800-person Election Committee selects the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the head of government.

As one of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eighth most traded currency in the world.Sony VAIO VGN-Z57GG/X Battery

The lack of space caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the city to a centre for modernarchitecture and the world's most vertical city.The dense space also led to a highly developed transportationnetwork with public transport travelling rate exceeding 90 percent,[33] the highest in the world.Sony VAIO VGN-Z57GGX Battery

Hong Kong has numerous high international rankings in various aspects. For instance, its economic freedom, financial and economic competitiveness,quality of life, corruption perception, Human Development Index, etc., are all ranked highly.Sony VAIO VGN-Z57TG/X Battery

Etymology

The name "Hong Kong" is an approximate phonetic rendering of the pronunciation of the spoken Cantonese or Hakka name "??", meaning "fragrant harbour". Before 1842, the name referred to a small inlet – now Aberdeen Harbour or Little Hong Kong – between the island of Ap Lei Chau and the south side of Hong Kong Island, which was one of the first points of contact between British sailors and local fishermen.Sony VAIO VGN-Z58GG/X Battery

The reference to fragrance may refer to the harbour waters sweetened by the fresh water estuarine influx of the Pearl River, or to the incense from factories lining the coast to the north of Kowloon, which was stored around Aberdeen Harbour for export before the development of Victoria Harbour.Sony VAIO VGN-Z58GGX Battery

In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking was signed, and the name Hong Kong was first recorded on official documents to encompass the entirety of the island.

Pre-colonial

Archaeological studies support a human presence in the Chek Lap Kok area from 35,000 to 39,000 years ago, and in Sai Kung Peninsula from 6,000 years ago.Sony VAIO VGN-Z590NJB Battery

Wong Tei Tung and Three Fathoms Cove are the two earliest sites of human habitation in the Palaeolithic period. It is believed the Three Fathom Cove was a river valley settlement and Wong Tei Tung was a lithic manufacturing site. Excavated Neolithic artefacts suggest cultural differences from the Longshan culture in northern China and settlement by the Che people prior to the migration of the Baiyue.Sony VAIO VGN-Z590UAB Battery

Eight petroglyphs were discovered on surrounding islands, which dated to the Shang Dynasty in China.[50]

In 214 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, conquered the Baiyue tribes in Jiaozhi (modern Liangguang region) and incorporated the territory into imperial China for the first time. Sony VAIO VGN-Z591U/B Battery

Modern Hong Kong is located in Nanhai commandery (modernNanhai District) and near the ancient capital city Pun Yue.The area was consolidated under the kingdom ofNanyue, founded by general Zhao Tuo in 204 BC after the Qin Dynasty collapsed. When the kingdom was conquered by Emperor Wu of Han in 111 BC, the land was assigned to the Jiaozhi commandery under the Han Dynasty.Sony VAIO VGN-Z59G Battery

Archaeological evidence indicates the population increased and early salt production flourished in this time period. Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb in theKowloon Peninsula is believed to have been built during the Han Dynasty.

During the Tang Dynasty period, the Guangdong region flourished as a regional trading center. In 736, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang established a military town in Tuen Mun to defend the coastal area in the region.Sony VAIO VGN-Z620D Battery

The first village school, Li Ying College, was established around 1075 in the New Territories under the Northern Song Dynasty.During the Mongol invasion in 1276, the Southern Song Dynasty court moved to Fujian, then to Lantau Island and later to Sung Wong Toi (modern Kowloon City), Sony VAIO VGN-Z620N/B Battery

but the childEmperor Huaizong of Song committed suicide by drowning with his officials after being defeated in the Battle of Yamen. Hau Wong, an official of the emperor is still worshipped in Hong Kong today.

The earliest recorded European visitor was Jorge Álvares, a Portuguese explorer who arrived in 1513.Sony VAIO VGN-Z650N/B Battery

After establishing settlements in the region, Portuguese merchants began trading in southern China. At the same time, they invaded and built up military fortifications in Tuen Mun. Military clashes between China and Portugal led to the expulsion of the Portuguese. In the mid-16th century, the Haijin order banned maritime activities and prevented contact with foreigners; it also restricted local sea activity.Sony VAIO VGN-Z670N/B Battery

In 1661–69, the territory was affected by the Great Clearance ordered by Kangxi Emperor, which required the evacuation of the coastal areas of Guangdong. It is recorded that about 16,000 persons from Xin'an County were driven inland, and 1,648 of those who left are said to have returned when the evacuation was rescinded in 1669.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690CTO Battery

What is now the territory of Hong Kong became largely wasteland during the ban.In 1685, Kangxi became the first emperor to open limited trading with foreigners, which started with the Canton territory. He also imposed strict terms for trades such as requiring foreign traders to live in restricted areas, staying only for the trading seasons, banning firearms, and trading with silver only.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690NAX Battery

The East India Company made the first sea venture to China in 1699, and the region's trade with British merchants developed rapidly soon after. In 1711, the company established its first trading post in Canton. By 1773, the British reached a landmark 1,000 chests of opium in Canton with China consuming 2,000 chests annually by 1799.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690PAB Battery

British colonial era

In 1839, the refusal by Qing Dynasty authorities to import opium resulted in the First Opium War between China and Britain. Hong Kong Island was occupied by British forces on 20 January 1841 and was initially ceded under the Convention of Chuenpeeas part of a ceasefire agreement between Captain Charles Elliot and Governor Qishan, Sony VAIO VGN-Z690PCB Battery

but the agreement was never ratified due to a dispute between high ranking officials in both governments.[64] It was not until 29 August 1842 that the island was formally ceded in perpetuity to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Nanking. The British established a crown colony with the founding ofVictoria City the following year.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690PDB Battery

In 1860, after China's defeat in the Second Opium War, the Kowloon Peninsula and Stonecutter's Island were ceded in perpetuity to Britain under the Convention of Peking.

In 1894, the deadly Third Pandemic of bubonic plague spread from China to Hong Kong, causing 50,000–100,000 deaths.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690PEB Battery

In 1898, under the terms of the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Lantau Island and the adjacent northern lands, which became known as the New Territories.[67] Hong Kong's territory has remained unchanged to the present.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690PFB Battery

During the first half of the 20th century, Hong Kong was a free port, serving as an entrepôt of the British Empire. The British introduced an education system based on their own model, while the local Chinese population had little contact with the European community of wealthy tai-pans settled near Victoria Peak.Sony VAIO VGN-Z690YAD Battery

In conjunction with its military campaign, the Empire of Japan invaded Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. The Battle of Hong Kong ended with British and Canadian defenders surrendering control of the colony to Japan on 25 December. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, civilians suffered widespread food shortages, rationing, and hyper-inflation due to forced exchange of currency for military notes. Sony VAIO VGN-Z691Y/B Battery

Through a policy of enforced repatriation of the unemployed to the mainland throughout the period, because of the scarcity of food, the population of Hong Kong had dwindled from 1.6 million in 1941 to 600,000 in 1945, when the United Kingdom resumed control of the colony.Sony VAIO VGN-Z691Y/X Battery

Hong Kong's population recovered quickly as a wave of migrants from China arrived for refuge from the ongoing Chinese Civil War. When the PRC was proclaimed in 1949, more migrants fled to Hong Kong for fear of persecution by the Communist Party.[67] Many corporations in Shanghai and Guangzhou shifted their operations to Hong Kong.Sony VAIO VGN-Z698Y/X Battery

In the 1950s, Hong Kong's rapid industrialisation was driven by textile exports and other expanded manufacturing industries. As the population grew and labour costs remained low, living standards rose steadily. The construction of Shek Kip Mei Estate in 1953 followed a massive slum fire, and marked the beginning of the public housing estateprogramme designed to cope with the huge influx of immigrants. Sony VAIO VGN-Z699JAB Battery

Trade in Hong Kong accelerated even further whenShenzhen, immediately north of Hong Kong, became a special economic zone of the PRC, and Hong Kong was established as the main source of foreign investment in China. The manufacturing competitiveness gradually declined in Hong Kong due to the development of the manufacturing industry in southern China beginning in the early 1980s.Sony VAIO VGN-Z70B Battery

By contrast, the service industry in Hong Kong experienced high rates of growth in the 1980s and 1990s after absorbing workers released from the manufacturing industry.

In 1983, when the United Kingdom reclassified Hong Kong from a British crown colony to a dependent territory, Sony VAIO VGN-Z71JB Battery

the governments of the United Kingdom and China were already discussing the issue of Hong Kong's sovereignty due to the impending expiry (within two decades) of the lease of the New Territories. In 1984, the Sino-British Joint Declaration – an agreement to transfer sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1997 – was signed.Sony VAIO VGN-Z73FB Battery

It stipulated that Hong Kong would be governed as a special administrative region, retaining its laws and a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years after the transfer. The Hong Kong Basic Law, which would serve as the constitutional document after the transfer, was ratified in 1990.Sony VAIO VGN-Z790DKX Battery

Since 1997

On 1 July 1997, the transfer of sovereignty from United Kingdom to the PRC occurred, officially ending 156 years of British colonial rule. Hong Kong became China's first special administrative region, and Tung Chee Hwa took office as the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Sony VAIO VGN-Z790DMR Battery

That same year, Hong Kong suffered an economic double blow from the Asian financial crisis and the H5N1 avian influenza. In 2003, Hong Kong was gravely affected by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The World Health Organizationreported 1,755 infected and 299 deaths in Hong Kong.Sony VAIO VGN-Z790DND Battery

An estimated 380 million Hong Kong dollars (US$48.9 million) in contracts were lost as a result of the epidemic.

On 10 March 2005, Tung Chee Hwa announced his resignation as Chief Executive due to "health problems".Donald Tsang, the Chief Secretary for Administration at the time, entered the 2005 election unopposed and became the second Chief Executive of Hong Kong on 21 June 2005.Sony VAIO VGN-Z820DB Battery

In 2007, Tsang won the Chief Executive electionand continued his second term in office.

In 2009, Hong Kong hosted the fifth East Asian Games, in which nine national teams competed. It was the first and largest international multi-sport event ever held in the territory.Sony VAIO VGN-Z820G/B Battery

Today, Hong Kong continues to serve as an important global financial centre, but faces uncertainty over its future due to the growing mainland China economy, and its relationship with the PRC government in areas such as democratic reform and universal suffrage.Sony VAIO VGN-Z890GLX Battery

Governance

In accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and the underlying principle of one country, two systems, Hong Kong has a "high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region in all areas except defence and foreign affairs."Sony VAIO VGN-Z890GMR Battery

The declaration stipulates that the region maintain its capitalist economic system and guarantees the rights and freedoms of its people for at least 50 years beyond the 1997 handover. The guarantees over the territory's autonomy and the individual rights and freedoms are enshrined in a constitution, the Hong Kong Basic Law,Sony VAIO VGN-Z898H/X Battery

which outlines the system of governance of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, but which is subject to the interpretation of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

The primary pillars of government are the Executive Council, the civil service, the Legislative Council, and the Judiciary. Sony VAIO VGN-Z90FS Battery

The Executive Council is headed by the Chief Executive who is elected by the Election Committee and then appointed by the Central People's Government. The civil service is a politically neutral body that implements policies and provides government services, where public servants are appointed based on meritocracy.Sony VAIO VGN-Z90NS Battery

The Legislative Council has 60 members, half of which are directly elected by universal suffrage by permanent residents of Hong Kong according to five geographical constituencies. The other half, known as functional constituencies, are directly elected by a smaller electorate, which consists of corporate bodies and persons from various stipulated functional sectors.Sony VAIO VGN-Z90PS Battery

The entire council is headed by the President of the Legislative Councilwho serves as the speaker. Judges are appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of an independent commission.

The implementation of the Basic Law, including how and when the universal suffrage promised therein is to be achieved, has been a major issue of political debate since the transfer of sovereignty. Sony VAIO VGN-Z90S Battery

In 2002, the government's proposed anti-subversion bill pursuant to Article 23 of the Basic Law, which required the enactment of laws prohibiting acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government, was met with fierce opposition, and eventually shelved.Sony VAIO VGN-Z90US Battery

Debate between pro-Beijing groups, which tend to support the Executive branch, and the Pan-democracy camp characterises Hong Kong's political scene, with the latter supporting a faster pace of democratisation, and the principle of one man, one vote.

In 2004, the government failed to gain pan-democrat support to pass its so-called "district council model" for political reform.Sony VAIO VGN-Z91DS Battery

In 2009, the government reissued the proposals as the "Consultation Document on the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the LegCo in 2012". The document proposed the enlargement of the Election Committee, Hong Kong's electoral college, from 800 members to 1,200 in 2012 and expansion of the legislature from 60 to 70 seats. Sony VAIO VGN-Z91JS Battery

The 10 new legislative seats would consist of five geographical constituency seats and five functional constituency seats, to be voted in by elected district council members from among themselves. The proposals were destined for rejection by pan-democrats once again, but a significant breakthrough occurred after the Central People's Government accepted a counter-proposal by the Democratic Party. Sony VAIO VGN-Z91PS Battery

In particular, the Pan-democracy camp was split when the proposal to directly elect five newly created functional seats was not acceptable to two constituent parties. The Democratic Party sided with the government for the first time since the handover and passed the proposals with a vote of 46–12.Sony VAIO VGN-Z91YS Battery

Legal system and judiciary

Hong Kong's legal system is completely independent from the legal system of Mainland China. In contrast to mainland China's civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established under British rule.Sony VAIO VGN-Z92DS Battery

Hong Kong's courts may refer to decisions rendered by courts of other common law jurisdictions as precedents, and judges from other common law jurisdictions are allowed to sit as non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal.

Structurally, the court system consists of the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court, which is made up of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance, and the District Court, which includes the Family Court.Sony VAIO VGN-Z92JS Battery

Other adjudicative bodies include theLands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts, the Juvenile Court, the Coroner's Court, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal, and the Obscene Articles Tribunal. Justices of the Court of Final Appeal are appointed by Hong Kong's Chief Executive.Sony VAIO VGN-Z92PS Battery

The Department of Justice is responsible for handling legal matters for the government. Its responsibilities include providing legal advice, criminal prosecution, civil representation, legal and policy drafting and reform, and international legal cooperation between different jurisdictions.Sony VAIO VGN-Z92YS Battery

Apart from prosecuting criminal cases, lawyers of the Department of Justice act on behalf of the government in all civil and administrative lawsuits against the government. As protector of the public interest, the department may apply for judicial reviews and may intervene in any cases involving the greater public interest.Sony VAIO VGN-Z93FS Battery

The Basic Law protects the Department of Justice from any interference by the government when exercising its control over criminal prosecution.

Human rights

In general, Hong Kong is perceived to enjoy a high level of civil liberties.Sony VAIO VGN-Z93GS Battery

The Hong Kong government generally respect the human rights of the citizens, although core issues remain. There are concerns over the freedom of assembly which is restricted by the Public Order Ordinance. The police has been occasionally accused of using heavy-handed tactics towards protestors and questions are asked towards the extensive powers of the police.Sony VAIO VGN-Z93HS Battery

As to the right of privacy,covert surveillance remains the major concern.There is a lack of protection for homosexuals due to the absence of a sexual orientation discrimination law.There are also comments regarding a lack of protection for labour rights.

Internet access in Hong Kong is not under the censorship, surveillance, and control of the Great Firewall of China.Sony VAIO VGN-Z93VS Battery

Administrative districts

Hong Kong has a unitary system of government; no local government has existed since the two municipal councils were abolished in 2000. As such there is no formal definition for its cities and towns. Sony A1258274A Battery

Administratively, Hong Kong is subdivided into 18 geographic districts, each represented by a district council which advises the government on local matters such as public facilities, community programmes, cultural activities, and environmental improvements. Sony VGP-BPL10 Battery

There are a total of 534 district council seats, 405 of which are elected; the rest are appointed by the Chief Executive and 27 ex officiochairmen of rural committees.[114] The Home Affairs Departmentcommunicates government policies and plans to the public through the district offices.Sony VGP-BPS10 Battery

Military

When Hong Kong was a British colony and later, a dependent territory, defence was provided by theBritish military under the command of the Governor of Hong Kong who was ex officio Commander-in-chief. Sony VGP-BPS10/S Battery

When the PRC assumed sovereignty in 1997, the British barracks were replaced by a garrison of the People's Liberation Army, comprising ground, naval, and air forces, and under the command of the Chinese Central Military Commission.

The Basic Law protects local civil affairs against interference by the garrison, and members of the garrison are subject to Hong Kong laws.Sony VGP-BPS10A/B Battery

The Hong Kong Government remains responsible for the maintenance of public order; however, it may ask the PRC government for help from the garrison in maintaining public order and in disaster relief. The PRC government is responsible for the costs of maintaining the garrison.Sony VGP-BPS10B Battery

Geography and climate

Hong Kong is located on China's south coast, 60 km (37 mi) east of Macau on the opposite side of the Pearl River Delta. It is surrounded by the South China Sea on the east, south, and west, and borders the Guangdong city of Shenzhen to the north over the Shenzhen River. Sony VGP-BPS10A Battery

The territory's 1,104 km2 (426 sq mi) area consists of Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore islands, of which the largest is Lantau Island. Of the total area, 1,054 km2 (407 sq mi) is land and 50 km2 (19 sq mi) is inland water.Sony VGP-BPS11 Battery

Hong Kong claims territorial waters to a distance of 3 nautical miles (5.6 km). Its land area makes Hong Kong the 179th largest inhabited territory in the world.

As much of Hong Kong's terrain is hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, less than 25% of the territory's landmass is developed, and about 40% of the remaining land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves.Sony VGP-BPL11 Battery

Most of the territory's urban development exists on Kowloon peninsula, along the northern edge of Hong Kong Island, and in scattered settlements throughout the New Territories.[119] The highest elevation in the territory is at Tai Mo Shan, 957 metres (3,140 ft) above sea level.[120] Hong Kong's long and irregular coast provides it with many bays, rivers and beaches.Sony VGP-BPL12 Battery

Despite Hong Kong's reputation of being intensely urbanised, the territory has tried to promote a green environment, and recent growing public concern has prompted the severe restriction of further land reclamation from Victoria Harbour. Awareness of the environment is growing as Hong Kong suffers from increasing pollution compounded by its geography and tall buildings.Sony VGP-BPS12 Battery

Approximately 80% of the city's smog originates from other parts of the Pearl River Delta.

Though it is situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa). Summer is hot and humid with occasional showers and thunderstorms, and warm air coming from the southwest. Summer is when typhoons are most likely, sometimes resulting in flooding or landslides. Sony VGP-BPL13 Battery

Winters are mild and usually start sunny, becoming cloudier towards February; the occasional cold front brings strong, cooling winds from the north. The most temperate seasons are spring, which can be changeable, and autumn, which is generally sunny and dry.Sony VGP-BPS13 Battery

Hong Kong averages 1,948 hours of sunshine per year, while the highest and lowest ever recorded temperatures at the Hong Kong Observatory are 36.1 °C (97.0 °F) and 0.0 °C (32.0 °F), respectively.

Economy

As one of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade. The currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the eight most traded currency in the world as of 2010.Sony VGP-BPS13/B Battery

Hong Kong was once described by Milton Friedman as the world’s greatest experiment in laissez-faire capitalism.[129] It maintains a highly developed capitalist economy, ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years.Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

It is an important centre for international finance and trade, with one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region,[133] and is known as one of the Four Asian Tigers for its high growth rates and rapid development from the 1960s to the 1990s.Sony VGP-BPS13/S Battery

Between 1961 and 1997 Hong Kong's gross domestic product grew 180 times while per-capita GDP increased 87 times over.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the seventh largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of US$2.3 trillion as of December 2009.Sony VGP-BPS13A/B Battery

In that year, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of worldwide initial public offering (IPO) capital, making it the largest centre of IPOs in the world and the easiest place to raise capital. Hong Kong's currency is the Hong Kong dollar, which has been pegged to the U.S. dollar since 1983.Sony VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

The Hong Kong Government has traditionally played a mostly passive role in the economy, with little by way of industrial policy and almost no import or export controls. Market forces and the private sector were allowed to determine practical development. Under the official policy of "positive non-interventionism", Hong Kong is often cited as an example of laissez-faire capitalism.Sony VGP-BPS13AS Battery

Following the Second World War, Hong Kong industrialised rapidly as a manufacturing centre driven by exports, and then underwent a rapid transition to a service-based economy in the 1980s.[141] Since then, it has grown to become a leading center for management, financial, IT, business consultation and professional services.Sony VGP-BPS13B/B Battery

Hong Kong matured to become a financial centre in the 1990s, but was greatly affected by the Asian financial crisis in 1998, and again in 2003 by the SARS outbreak. A revival of external and domestic demand has led to a strong recovery, as cost decreases strengthened the competitiveness of Hong Kong exports and a long deflationary period ended.Sony VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery

Government intervention, initiated by the later colonial governments and continued since 1997, has steadily increased, with the introduction of export creditguarantees, a compulsory pension scheme, a minimum wage, anti-discrimination laws, and a state mortgage backer.Sony VGP-BPS13B/S Battery

The territory has little arable land and few natural resources, so it imports most of its food and raw materials. Agricultural activity -- relatively unimportant to Hong Kong’s economy and contributing just 0.1% of its GDP -- primarily consists of growing premium food and flower varieties.Sony VGP-BPS13Q Battery

Hong Kong is the world's eleventh largest trading entity, with the total value of imports and exports exceeding its gross domestic product. It is the world's largest re-export centre. Much of Hong Kong's exports consist of re-exports, which are products made outside of the territory, especially in mainland China, and distributed via Hong Kong.Sony VGP-BPS13S Battery

Its physical location has allowed the city to establish a transportation and logistics infrastructure that includes the world’s second busiest container port and the world’s busiest airport for international cargo. Even before the transfer of sovereignty, Hong Kong had established extensive trade and investment ties with the mainland, which now enable it to serve as a point of entry for investment flowing into the mainland.Sony VGP-BPL7 Battery

At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million people employed full-time, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1% for the fourth straight year of decline. Hong Kong's economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90% of its GDP, while industry constitutes 9%. Inflation was at 2.5% in 2007.Sony VGP-BPS7 Battery

Hong Kong's largest export markets are mainland China, the United States, and Japan.

As of 2010, Hong Kong is the eighth most expensive city for expatriates, falling from fifth position in the previous year. In 2011, Hong Kong was ranked second in the Ease of Doing Business Index, behind Singapore.Sony VGP-BPL8 Battery

General principle No. 5 of the Basic Law of the SAR suggests that the CPC expects that it shall have brought the economic system of the Mainland and Hong Kong into harmony by 2047, by which time the Chinese economy is predicted to have been the largest by any measure of GDP for decades.Sony VGP-BPL8A Battery

Demographics

The territory's population is 7.03 million. In 2009, Hong Kong had a birth rate of 11.7 per 1,000 population and a fertility rate of 1,032 children per 1,000 women. Residents from mainland China do not have the right of abode in Hong Kong, nor are they allowed to enter the territory freely.Sony VGP-BPL8B Battery

However, the influx of immigrants from mainland China, approximating 45,000 per year, is a significant contributor to its population growth – a daily quota of 150 Mainland Chinese with family ties in Hong Kong are granted a "one way permit". Life expectancy in Hong Kong is 79.16 years for males and 84.79 years for females as of 2009, making it one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Sony VGP-BPS8 Battery

About 95% of the people of Hong Kong are of Chinese descent, the majority of whom are Taishanese, Chiu Chow, other Cantonese people, and Hakka. Hong Kong's Han majority originate mainly from the Guangzhou and Taishan regions in Guangdong province. The remaining 5% of the population is composed of non-ethnic Chinese.Sony VGP-BPS8A Battery

There is a South Asian population of Indians, Pakistanis andNepalese; some Vietnamese refugees have become permanent residents of Hong Kong. There are also Europeans (mostly British),Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and Koreans working in the city's commercial and financial sector.Sony VGP-BPS8B Battery

In 2008, there were an estimate of 252,500 foreign domestic helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines working in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's de facto official language is Cantonese, a Chinese language originating from Guangdong province to the north of Hong Kong. English is also an official language, and according to a 1996 by-census is spoken by 3.1 percent of the population as an everyday language and by 34.9 percent of the population as a second language.Sony VGP-BPL9 Battery

Signs displaying both Chinese and English are common throughout the territory. Since the 1997 handover, an increase in immigrants from mainland China and greater integration with the mainland economy have brought an increasing number of Mandarin speakers to Hong Kong.Sony VGP-BPS9 Battery

The majority of residents of Hong Kong would claim no religious affiliation, professing a form of agnosticism or atheism. According to the U.S Department of State only 43 percent of the population practices some form of religion. Some figures put it higher, according to a Gallup poll, 64% of Hong Kong do not believe in any religion,and possibly 80% of Hong Kong claim no religion.Sony VGP-BPS9/B Battery

According to another gallup poll, Hong Kong is the seventh country which considers religion as an important part of their daily lives, with only 22%. In Hong Kong teaching evolution won out in curriculum dispute about whether to teach other explanations, and that creationism and intelligent design will form no part of the senior secondary biology curriculum.Sony VGP-BPS9/S Battery

Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of religious freedom, guaranteed by the Basic Law. Hong Kong's main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, a local religious scholar in contact with major denominations estimates there are approximately 1.5 million Buddhists and Taoists.Sony VGP-BPS9A Battery

A Christian community of around 600,000 forms about 8% of the total population; it is nearly equally divided between Catholics and Protestants, although smaller Christian communities exist, including the Latter-Day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses. The Anglican and Roman Catholic churches each freely appoint their own bishops, unlike in mainland China. Sony VGP-BPS9A/B Battery

There are also Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Bahá'í communities. The practice of Falun Gong is tolerated.

Statistically Hong Kong's income gap is the greatest in Asia Pacific. According to a report by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 2008, Hong Kong'sGini coefficient, at 0.53, was the highest in Asia and "relatively high by international standards".Sony VGP-BPS9A/S Battery

However, the government has stressed that income disparity does not equate to worsening of the poverty situation, and that the Gini coefficient is not strictly comparable between regions. The government has named economic restructuring, changes in household sizes, and the increase of high-income jobs as factors that have skewed the Gini coefficient.Sony VGP-BPS9B Battery

Education

Hong Kong's education system used to roughly follow the system in England, although international systems exist. The government maintains a policy of "mother tongue instruction" (Chinese: ????) in which the medium of instruction is Cantonese, with written Chinese and English. Sony VGP-BPX11 Battery

In secondary schools, 'biliterate and trilingual' proficiency is emphasised, andMandarin-language education has been increasing.The Programme for International Student Assessment ranked Hong Kong's education system as the second best in the world. Hong Kong's public schools are operated by th

e Education Bureau.Sony VGP-BPL18 Battery

The system features a non-compulsory three-year kindergarten, followed by a compulsory six-year primary education, a three-year junior secondary education, a non-compulsory two-year senior secondary education leading to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations and a two-year matriculation course leading to the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations.Sony VGP-BPS18 Battery

The New Senior Secondary academic structure and curriculum was implemented in September 2009, which provides for all students to receive three years of compulsory junior and three years of compulsory senior secondary education. Under the new curriculum, there is only public examination, namely the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.Sony VGP-BPL20 Battery

Most comprehensive schools in Hong Kong fall under three categories: the rarer public schools; the more common subsidised schools, including government aids-and-grant schools; and private schools, often run by Christian organisations and having admissions based on academic merit rather than on financial resources. Sony VGP-BPS20/B Battery

Outside this system are the schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme and private international schools.

There are nine public universities in Hong Kong, and a number of private higher institutions, offering various bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, other higher diplomas, and associate degree courses.Sony VGP-BPS20/S Battery

The University of Hong Kong, the oldest institution of tertiary education in the territory, was described byQuacquarelli Symonds as a "world-class comprehensive research university" and was ranked 24th on the 2009 THES - QS World University Rankings, making it first in Asia.Sony VGP-BPL21 Battery

The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology was ranked 35th in the world in 2009 and ranked second in Asia for 2010. The Chinese University of Hong Kong was ranked 46th in the world in 2009 and ranked fourth in Asia for 2010. Based on the 2011 rankings published by career and education network QS, three of the top five Asian universities are in Hong Kong.Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

They are the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong kong as first, second and fifth rank, respectively.

Healthcare

There are 13 private hospitals and more than 50 public hospitals in Hong Kong. Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Among the widest range of healthcare services throughout the globe are on offer, and some of the SAR's private hospitals are rightly considered to be among the very best of their type in the world.

There are two medical schools in the SAR, one based at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the other at Hong Kong University. Both have strong links with public sector hospitals.Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

With respect to postgraduate education, many Hong Kong doctors have traditionally look overseas for further training, and many took British Royal College exams such as the MRCP(UK) and the MRCS(UK). However, Hong Kong has been developing its own postgraduate medical institutions,Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

in particular the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, and this is gradually taking over the responsibility for all postgraduate medical training in the SAR.

There are also strong public health systems in Hong Kong, and the Centre for Health Protection, founded after the SARS outbreak of 2003, is particularly worthy of mention.Sony VGP-BPS21B Battery

Culture

Hong Kong is frequently described as a place where "East meets West", reflecting the culture's mix of the territory's Chinese roots with influences from its time as a British colony. Hong Kong balances a modernised way of life with traditional Chinese practices. Sony VGP-BPL22 Battery

Concepts like feng shui are taken very seriously, with expensive construction projects often hiring expert consultants, and are often believed to make or break a business. Other objects like Ba gua mirrors are still regularly used to deflect evil spirits, and buildings often lack any floor number that has a 4 in it, due to its similarity to the word for "die" in Cantonese.Sony VGP-BPS22 Battery

The fusion of east and west also characterises Hong Kong's cuisine, where dim sum, hot pot, and fast foodrestaurants coexist with haute cuisine.

Hong Kong is a recognised global centre of trade, and calls itself an "entertainment hub". Its martial arts film genre gained a high level of popularity in the late 1960s and 1970s. Sony VGP-BPS22/A Battery

Several Hollywood performers, notable actors and martial artists have originated from Hong Kong cinema, notably Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Jet Li. A number of Hong Kong film-makers have achieved widespread fame in Hollywood, such as John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, and Stephen Chow.Sony VGP-BPS22A Battery

Homegrown films such as Chungking Express,Infernal Affairs, Shaolin Soccer, Rumble in the Bronx, In the Mood for Love and Echoes of the Rainbow have gained international recognition. Hong Kong is the centre for Cantopop music, which draws its influence from other forms of Chinese music and Western genres, and has a multinational fanbase.Sony VGP-BPL23 Battery

The Hong Kong government supports cultural institutions such as the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, theHong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. The government's Leisure and Cultural Services Department subsidises and sponsors international performers brought to Hong Kong.Sony VGP-BPS23 Battery

Many international cultural activities are organised by the government, consulates, and privately.

Hong Kong has two licensed terrestrial broadcasters – ATV and TVB. There are three local and a number of foreign suppliers ofcable and satellite services.Sony VGP-BPS23/B Battery

The production of Hong Kong's soap dramas, comedy series, and variety shows reach audiences throughout the Chinese-speaking world. Magazine and newspaper publishers in Hong Kong distribute and print in both Chinese and English, with a focus on sensationalism and celebrity gossip.Sony VGP-BPS23/D Battery

The media in Hong Kong is relatively free from official interference compared to mainland China, although the Far Eastern Economic Review points to signs of self-censorship by journals whose owners have close ties to or business interests in the People's Republic of China and states that even Western media outlets are not immune to growing Chinese economic power.Sony VGP-BPS23/G Battery

Hong Kong offers wide recreational and competitive sport opportunities despite its limited land area. It sends delegates to international competitions such as the Olympic Games and Asian Games, and played host to the equestrian events during the 2008 Summer Olympics.Sony VGP-BPS23/P Battery

There are major multipurpose venues like Hong Kong Coliseum and MacPherson Stadium. Hong Kong's steep terrain and extensive trail network with expansive views attracts hikers, and its rugged coastline provides many beaches for swimming.

Architecture

According to Emporis, there are 7,650 skyscrapers in Hong Kong, which puts the city at the top of world rankings.Sony VGP-BPS23/W Battery

It has more buildings higher than 35m (or 100m, or 150m) than any other city. The high density and tall skyline of Hong Kong's urban area is due to a lack of available sprawl space, with the average distance from the harbour front to the steep hills of Hong Kong Island at 1.3 km (0.81 mi), much of it reclaimed land. Sony Limited Edition 007 Battery

This lack of space causes demand for dense, high-rise offices and housing. Thirty-six of the world's 100 tallest residential buildings are in Hong Kong. More people in Hong Kong live or work above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth, making it the world's most vertical city.Sony VAIO VGC-LB15 Battery

As a result of the lack of space and demand for construction, few older buildings remain, and the city is becoming a centre for modern architecture. TheInternational Commerce Centre (ICC), at 484 m (1,588 ft) high, is the tallest building in Hong Kong and the third tallest in the world, by height to roof measurement.Sony VGN-AR Series Battery

The tallest building prior to the ICC is Two International Finance Centre, at 415 m (1,362 ft) high.Other recognisable skyline features include the HSBC Headquarters Building, the triangular-topped Central Plaza with its pyramid-shaped spire, The Center with its night-time multi-coloured neon light show, and I. M. Pei's Bank of China Tower with its sharp, angular façade. Sony VGN-CR Series Battery

According to the Emporis website, the city skyline has the biggest visual impact of all world cities.Also, Hong Kong's skyline is often regarded to be the best in the world, with the surrounding mountains and Victoria Harbour complementing the skyscrapers. Sony VIAO VGN-G Series Battery

Most of the oldest remaining historic structures, including the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower, the Central Police Station, and the remains ofKowloon Walled City were constructed during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are many development plans in place, including the construction of new government buildings, waterfront redevelopment in Central, and a series of projects in West Kowloon.Sony VIAO VGN-G118 Battery

More high-rise development is set to take place on the other side of Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, as the 1998 closure of the nearby Kai Tak Airport lifted strict height restrictions.

Transport

Hong Kong's transportation network is highly developed. Over 90% of daily travels (11 million) are on public transport, the highest such percentage in the world.Sony VIAO VGN-G118CN/B Battery

Payment can be made using the Octopus card, a stored value system introduced by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), which is widely accepted on railways, buses and ferries, and accepted like cash at other outlets.

The city's main railway company (MTR) was merged with the urban mass transit operator (KCRC) in 2007, creating a comprehensive rail network for the whole territory (also called MTR).Sony VIAO VGN-G118CN/T Battery

This MTR rapid transit system has 152 stations, which serve 3.4 million people a day. Hong Kong Tramways, which has served the territory since 1904, covers the northern parts of Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong's bus service is franchised and run by private operators. Five privately owned companies provide franchised bus service across the territory, together operating more than 700 routes. Sony VIAO VGN-G218 Battery

The two largest,The Star Ferry service, founded in 1888, operates four lines across Victoria Harbour and provides scenic views of Hong Kong's skyline for its 53,000 daily passengers. It acquired iconic status following its use as a setting on The World of Suzie Wong. Travel writer Ryan Levitt considered the main Tsim Sha Tsui to Central crossing one of the most picturesque in the world.Sony VGN-TZ121 Battery

Other ferry services are provided by operators serving outlying islands, new towns, Macau, and cities in mainland China. Hong Kong is famous for its junks traversing the harbour, and small kai-to ferries that serve remote coastal settlements. The Port of Hong Kong is a busy deepwater port, specialising in container shipping.Sony VGN-TZ13 Battery

Hong Kong Island's steep, hilly terrain was initially served by sedan chairs. The Peak Tram, the first public transport system in Hong Kong, has provided vertical rail transport between Central and Victoria Peak since 1888. In Central and Western district, there is an extensive system of escalators and moving pavements, including the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, the Mid-Levels escalator.Sony VGN-TZ131 Battery

Hong Kong International Airport is a leading air passenger gateway and logistics hub in Asia and one of the world's busiest airports in terms of international passenger and cargo movement, serving more than 47 million passengers and handling 3.74 million tonnes (4.12 million tons) of cargo in 2007.Sony VGN-TZ132N Battery

It replaced the overcrowded Kai Tak Airportin Kowloon in 1998, and has been rated as the world's best airport in a number of surveys. Over 85 airlines operate at the two-terminal airport and it is the primary hub of Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Air Hong Kong, Hong Kong Airlines, and Hong Kong Express.Sony VGN-TZ132/N Battery

As one of the world's leading international financial centres, Hong Kong has a major capitalist service economy characterised by low taxation and free trade, and the currency, Hong Kong dollar, is the ninth most traded currency in the world.Hong Kong has remained as the world's freest economy, according to Index of Economic Freedom since the inception of the index in 1995.Sony VGN-TZ17N Battery

The economy, governed under positive non-interventionism, is highly dependent on international trade and finance and in 2009 the real economic growth fell by 2.8% as a result of the global financial turmoil. Despite the downturn, Hong Kong’s economic strengths, including a sound banking system, Sony VGN-TZ16N Battery

virtually no public debt, a strong legal system, ample foreign exchange reserves, rigorous anti-corruption measures and close ties with the mainland China, enable it to quickly respond to changing circumstances.

Hong Kong's gross domestic product, between 1961 and 1997, has grown 180 times while per capita GDP rose by 87 times.Sony VGN-TZ18N Battery

Its economy size is slightly bigger than Israel andCzech Republic and its GDP per capita at purchasing power parity is the 7th highest globally, more than Switzerland and Netherlands and slightly lower than theUnited States.

By the late 20th century, Hong Kong was the seventh largest port in the world and second only to New York and Rotterdam in terms of container throughput.Sony VAIO VGN-AR47G/E1 Battery

The Kwai Chung container complex was the largest in Asia; while Hong Kong shipping owners were second only to those of Greece in terms of total tonnage holdings. The Hong Kong Stock Exchangeis the 6th largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of about US$2.97 trillion.Sony VAIO VGN-AR520E Battery

Hong Kong has also had an abundant supply of labour from the region nearby. A skilled labour force coupled with the adoption of modern British/Western business methods and technology ensured that opportunities for external trade, investment, and recruitment were maximised.Sony VAIO VGN-AR53DB Battery

The Hong Kong government raises revenues from the sale and taxation of land but not engaged in industry and commerce for profit. From its revenues, the government has built roads, schools, hospitals, and other public infrastructure facilities and services. It has also operated a welfare insurance scheme. Sony VAIO VGN-AR54DB Battery

The government has avoided running up large budget deficits; and by restraining public borrowing, credit expansion and inflation have been held in check.

Despite being one of the world's richest economies, the Gini Coefficient indicates that the wealth gap continues to widen in Hong Kong. Sony VAIO VGN-AR550E Battery

As of 2006 Hong Kong's measurement is at 53.3, which means the difference between the rich and poor is far greater than that of the mainland China.

Stock exchange

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the 6th largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of about US$2.97 trillion.Sony VAIO VGN-AR55DB Battery

In 2006, the value of initial public offerings conducted in Hong Kong was second highest in the world after London. In 2009, Hong Kong raised 22 percent of worldwide initial public offering (IPO) capital, becoming the largest centre of IPOs in the world.The rival stock exchange of the future is expected to be the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Sony VAIO VGN-AR630E Battery

As of 2006, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) has an average daily turnover of 33.4 billion dollars, which is 12 times that of Shanghai.

Economic predictions

Since the 1997 handover Hong Kong's economic future became far more exposed to the challenges of economic globalisation competition directly from mainland China.Sony VAIO VGN-AR64DB Battery

Shanghai claimed in particular to have a geographical advantage, and a municipal government that dreams of turning the city into China's main economic centre by as early as 2010. The target is to allow Shanghai to catch up to New York by 2040-2050,[21] with the eventual projection that China will be Asia's most prosperous economy by 2040.Sony VAIO VGN-AR65DB Battery

Hong Kong, on the other hand, continues to have a more positive and realistic approach. It will sustainably be the international financial centre in China. Until then, Hong Kong is expected to have higher overall economic figures yearly. Hong Kong's principal trading partners remain to be China, United States,Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Singapore, and South Korea.Sony VAIO VGN-AR660U Battery

Positive non-interventionism

This policy has often been cited by economists such as Milton Friedman and the Cato Institute as an example of the benefits of laissez-faire capitalism. However others have argued that the economic strategy was inadequately characterised by the term laissez-faire.Sony VAIO VGN-AR690U Battery

They point out that there are still many ways in which the government is involved in the economy. The government has intervened to create economic institutions such as the Hong Kong Stock Market and has been involved in public works projects and social welfare spending.Sony VAIO VGN-AR71ZU Battery

All land in Hong Kong is owned by the government and leased to private users. By restricting the sale of land leases, the Hong Kong government keeps the price of land at what some would say are artificially high prices and this allows the government to support public spending with a low tax rate. Sony VAIO VGN-AR730E/B Battery

Economic freedom

Economic freedom is a term used in economic and policy debates. As with freedom generally, there are various definitions, but no universally accepted concept of economic freedom. Sony VAIO VGN-AR73DB Battery

One major approach to economic freedom comes from classical liberal and libertarian traditions emphasizing free markets and private property, while another extends the welfare economicsstudy of individual choice, with greater economic freedom coming from a "larger" (in some technical sense) set of possible choices.Sony VAIO VGN-AR74DB Battery

Another more philosophical perspective emphasizes its context in distributive justice and basic freedoms of all individuals.[4] Other conceptions of economic freedom include freedom from want[1][5] and the freedom to engage in collective bargaining.Sony VAIO VGN-AR75UDB Battery

The free market viewpoint understands economic liberty as the freedom to produce, trade and consume any goods and services acquired without the use of force, fraud or theft. This is embodied in the rule of law, property rights and freedom of contract, and characterized by external and internal openness of the markets, the protection of property rights and freedom of economic initiative.Sony VAIO VGN-AR790U/B Battery

There are several indices of economic freedom that attempt to measure free market economic freedom. Some empirical studies based on these rankings have found higher living standards, economic growth, income equality, less corruption and less political violence to be correlated with free markets. However, these results and their interpretation remain controversial.Sony VAIO VGN-AR820E Battery

Rule of law

Free market advocates argue that the conservative principle of the rule of law both requires, and is required for economic freedom. Friedrich Hayek argued that the certainty of law contributed to the prosperity of the West more than any other single factor.Sony VAIO VGN-AR830E Battery

Other important principles of the rule of law are the generality and equality of the law, which require that all legal rules apply equally to everybody. These principles can be seen as safeguards against severe restrictions on liberty, because they require that all laws equally apply to those with political and coercive power as well as those who are governed. Sony VAIO VGN-AR83S Battery

Principles of the generality and equality of the law exclude special privileges and arbitrary application of law, that is laws favoring one group at the expense of other citizens. According to Friedrich Hayek, equality before the law is incompatible with any activity of the government aiming to achieve the material equality of different people.Sony VAIO VGN-AR83US Battery

He asserts that a state's attempt to place people in the same (or similar) material position leads to an unequal treatment of individuals and to a compulsory redistribution of income.[16] Both of those actions are contributing to a decline in economic freedom.Sony VAIO VGN-AR84S Battery

Hayek's position has been criticised as logically incoherent. Westmoreland argues that, in Hayek's final formulation, any tax system passes the rule of law test provided that it is imposed predictably and thus "Hayek does not achieve the intended synthesis of libertarianism and conservatism." Sony VAIO VGN-AR84US Battery

Private property rights

According to the free market view, a secure system of private property rights is an essential part of economic freedom. Such systems include two main rights: the right to control and benefit from property and the right to transfer property by voluntary means. Sony VAIO VGN-AR85S Battery

These rights offer people the possibility of autonomy and self-determination according to their personal values and goals.[18]Economist Milton Friedman sees property rights as "the most basic of human rights and an essential foundation for other human rights."Sony VAIO VGN-AR85US Battery

With property rights protected, people are free to choose the use of their property, earn on it, and transfer it to anyone else, as long as they do it on a voluntary basis and do not resort to force, fraud or theft. In such conditions most people can achieve much greater personal freedom and development than under a regime of government coercion.Sony VAIO VGN-AR870EA Battery

A secure system of property rights also reduces uncertainty and encourages investments, creating favorable conditions for an economy to be successful. Empirical evidence suggests that countries with strong property rights systems have economic growth rates almost twice as high as those of countries with weak property rights systems, and that a market system with significant private property rights is an essential condition for democracy.Sony VAIO VGN-AR890U Battery

According to Hernando de Soto, much of the poverty in the Third World countries is caused by the lack of Western systems of laws and well-defined and universally recognized property rights. De Soto argues that because of the legal barriers poor people in those countries can not utilize their assets to produce more wealth.Sony VAIO VGN-AR93S Battery

Pierre Proudhon, a socialist and anarchist thinker, argued that property is both theft and freedom.

On the other hand, many leftists dispute that private property means "economic freedom" and believe in a system where people can lay claim to things based on personal use. Sony VAIO VGN-AR93US Battery

They claim that "Property is the domination of an individual, or a coalition of individuals, over things; it is not the claim of any person or persons to the use of things" and "this is, usufruct, a very different matter. Property means the monopoly of wealth, the right to prevent others using it, whether the owner needs it or not."Sony VAIO VGN-AR94S Battery

Freedom of contract

Freedom of contract is the right to choose one's contracting parties and to trade with them on any terms and conditions one sees fit. Contracts permit individuals to create their own enforceable legal rules, adapted to their unique situations.Sony VAIO VGN-AR94US Battery

Parties decide whether contracts are profitable or fair, but once a contract is made they are obliged to fulfill its terms, even if they are going to sustain losses by doing so. Through making binding promises people are free to pursue their own interests. The main economic function of contracts is to provide transferability of property rights. Sony VAIO VGN-AR95S Battery

Transferability largely depends on the enforceability of contracts, which is enabled by the judicial system. In Western societies the state does not enforce all types of contracts, and in some cases it intervenes by prohibiting certain arrangements, even if they are made between willing parties. Sony VAIO VGN-AR95US Battery

However, not all contracts need to be enforced by the state. For example, in the United States there is a large number of third-party arbitration tribunals which resolve disputes under private commercial law. Negatively understood, freedom of contract is freedom from government interference and from imposed value judgments of fairness.Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H Battery

Economic and political freedom

Some free market advocates argue that political and civil liberties have simultaneously expanded with market-based economies, and present empirical evidence to support the claim that economic and political freedoms are linked.Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery

In Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Friedman developed the argument that economic freedom, while itself an extremely important component of total freedom, is also a necessary condition for political freedom. He commented that centralized control of economic activities was always accompanied with political repression. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery

In his view, voluntary character of all transactions in a free market economy and wide diversity that it permits are fundamental threats to repressive political leaders and greatly diminish power to coerce. Through elimination of centralized control of economic activities, economic power is separated from political power, and the one can serve as counterbalance to the other. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery

Friedman feels that competitive capitalism is especially important to minority groups, since impersonal market forces protect people from discrimination in their economic activities for reasons unrelated to their productivity.

Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises argued that economic and political freedom were mutually dependent:Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B Battery

"The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom. It is no accident that the age of capitalism became also the age of government by the people."Sony VAIO VGN-AW120J/H Battery

In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek argued that "Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends." Hayek criticized socialist policies as the slippery slope that can lead to totalitarianism.Sony VAIO VGN-AW150Y/H Battery

Gordon Tullock has argued that "the Hayek-Friedman argument" predicted totalitarian governments in much of Western Europe in the late 20th century - which did not occur. He uses the example of Sweden, in which the government at that time controlled 63 percent of GNP,Sony VAIO VGN-AW160J/Q Battery

as an example to support his argument that the basic problem with The Road to Serfdom is "that it offered predictions which turned out to be false. The steady advance of government in places such as Sweden has not led to any loss of non-economic freedoms." Sony VAIO VGN-AW170Y/Q Battery

While criticizing Hayek, Tullock still praises the classical liberal notion of economic freedom, saying, "Arguments for political freedom are strong, as are the arguments for economic freedom. We needn’t make one set of arguments depend on the other." Sony VAIO VGN-AW180Y/Q Battery

Indices of economic freedom

The annual surveys Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) and Index of Economic Freedom (IEF) are two indices which attempt to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world's nations. The EFW index, originally developed by Gwartney, Lawson and Block at the Fraser Institute was likely the most used in empirical studies as of 2000.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190JAH Battery

The other major index, which was developed by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal appears superior for data work, although as it only goes back to 1995, it is less useful for historical comparisons.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB Battery

According to the creators of the indices, these rankings correlate strongly with higher average income per person, higher income of the poorest 10%, higher life expectancy, higher literacy, lower infant mortality, higher access to water sources and less corruption.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery

The people living in the top one-fifth of countries enjoy an average income of $23,450 and a growth rate in the 1990s of 2.56 percent per year; in contrast, the bottom one-fifth in the rankings had an average income of just $2,556 and a -0.85 percent growth rate in the 1990s. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery

The poorest 10 percent of the population have an average income of just $728 in the lowest ranked countries compared with over $7,000 in the highest ranked countries. The life expectancy of people living in the highest ranked nations is 20 years longer than for people in the lowest ranked countries.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB Battery

Higher economic freedom, as measured by both the Heritage and the Fraser indices, correlates strongly with higher self-reported happiness.

Erik Gartzke of the Fraser Institute estimates that countries with a high EFW are significantly less likely to be involved in wars, while his measure of democracyhad little or no impact.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB Battery

The Economic Freedom of the World score for the entire world has grown considerably in recent decades. The average score has increased from 5.17 in 1985 to 6.4 in 2005. Of the nations in 1985, 95 nations increased their score, seven saw a decline, and six were unchanged.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YCB Battery

Using the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom methodology world economic freedom has increased 2.6 points since 1995.

Members of the World Bank Group also use Index of Economic Freedom as the indicator of investment climate, because it covers more aspects relevant to the private sector in wide number of countries.Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery

The nature of economic freedom is often in dispute. Robert Lawson, the co-author of EFW, even acknowledges the potential shortcomings of freedom indices: "The purpose of the EFW index is to measure, no doubt imprecisely, the degree of economic freedom that exists."Sony VAIO VGN-AW220J/B Battery

He likens the recent attempts of economists to measure economic freedom to the initial attempts of economists to measure GDP: "They [macroeconomists] were scientists who sat down to design, as best they could with the tools at hand, a measure of the current economic activity of the nation.Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H Battery

Economic activity exists and their job was to measure it. Likewise economic freedom exists. It is a thing. We can define and measure it." Thus, it follows that some economists, socialists and anarchists contend that the existing indicators of economic freedom are too narrowly defined and should take into account a broader conception of economic freedoms.Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery

Critics of the indices (e.g. Thom Hartmann) also oppose the inclusion business-related measures like corporate charters and intellectual property protection. John Miller in Dollars & Sense has stated that the indices are "a poor barometer of either freedom more broadly construed or of prosperity."Sony VAIO VGN-AW290JFQ Battery

He argues that the high correlation between living standards and economic freedom as measured by IEF is the result of choices made in the construction of the index that guarantee this result. For example, the treatment of a large informal sector (common in poor countries) as an indicator of restrictive government policy, and the use of the change in the ratio of government spending to national income, rather than the level of this ratio. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF Battery

Hartman argues that these choices cause the social democratic European countries to rank higher than countries where the government share of the economy is small but growing.

Economists Dani Rodrik and Jeffrey Sachs have separately noted that there appears to be little correlation between measured economic freedom and economic growth when the least free countries are disregarded, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H Battery

as indicated by the strong growth of the Chinese economy in recent years. Morris Altman found that there is a relatively large correlation between economic freedom and both per capita income and per capita growth. He argues that this is especially true when it comes to sub-indices relating to property rights and sound money, while he calls into question the importance of sub-indices relating to labor regulation and government size once certain threshold values are passed.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery

John Miller further observes that Hong Kong and Singapore, both only "partially free" according to Freedom House, are leading countries on both economic freedom indices and casts doubt on the claim that measured economic freedom is associated with political freedom.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery

However, according to the Freedom House, "there is a high and statistically significant correlation between the level of political freedom as measured by Freedom House and economic freedom as measured by the Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation survey."Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH Battery

Positive and negative freedom

The differences between alternative views of economic freedom have been expressed in terms of Isaiah Berlin's distinction between positive freedom and negative freedom. Classical liberals favour a focus on negative freedom as did Berlin himself. By contrast Amartya Sen argues for an understanding of freedom in terms of capabilities to pursue a range of goals.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q Battery

One measure which attempts to assess freedom in the positive sense is Goodin, Rice, Parpo, and Eriksson's measure of discretionary time, which is an estimate of how much time people have at their disposal during which they are free to choose the activities in which they participate, after taking into account the time they need to spend acquiring the necessities of life.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF Battery

Freedom from want

Franklin D. Roosevelt included freedom from want in his Four freedoms speech. Roosevelt stated that freedom from want "translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world". opbattery-pack.co.uk/original-sony-vaio-vgn-aw41zf-b-battery-27258.htm" title="Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B laptop battery">Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B Battery

In terms of US policy, Roosevelt's New Dealincluded economic freedoms such as freedom of trade union organisation, as well as a wide range of policies of government intervention and redistributive taxation aimed at promoting freedom from want.Sony VAIO VGN-AW50DB/H Battery

Internationally, Roosevelt favored the policies associated with the Bretton Woods Agreement which fixed exchange rates and established international economic institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Herbert Hoover saw economic freedom as a fifth freedom, which secures survival of Roosevelt's Four freedoms. Sony VAIO VGN-AW51JGB Battery

He described economic freedom as freedom "for men to choose their own calling, to accumulate property in protection of their children and old age, [and] freedom of enterprise that does not injure others."

Freedom of association and unions

The Philadelphia Declaration (enshrined in the constitution of the International Labour Organization ) states that "all human beings,Sony VAIO VGN-AW52JGB Battery

irrespective of race, creed or sex, have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity". The ILO further states that "The right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their own choosing is an integral part of a free and open society."Sony VAIO VGN-AW53FB Battery,Sony VAIO VGN-AW70B/Q Battery,Sony VAIO VGN-AW71JB Battery,Sony VAIO VGN-AW72JB Battery,Sony VAIO VGN-AW73FB Battery

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