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Total population
c. 7.413 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Hong Kong7,413,070[2]
China Mainland China472,900[3]
 United States330,000[needs update][4]
 Canada213,855[needs update][a][6]
 United Kingdom145,000[needs update][7]
 Taiwan87,719[needs update][8]
 Japan18,210[needs update][12]
Hong Kong Cantonese (94.6%),
Hong Kong English (53.2%),
Mandarin (48.6%)
Non-religious with ancestral worship, Christianity, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, minority Islam and other faiths
Related ethnic groups
Cantonese people, Macau people, Hoklos, Hakkas, Teochew people, Shanghainese people, Tankas

Hongkongers (Chinese: 香港人; Jyutping: Hoeng1gong2 jan4), Hong Kongers, Hong Kongese,[13] Hongkongese,[14] Hong Kong citizens[b] and Hong Kong people are demonyms that refer to a resident of Hong Kong, although they may also refer to others who were born and/or raised in the territory.

The earliest inhabitants of Hong Kong were indigenous villagers such as the Punti and Tanka, who inhabited the area prior to British colonization.

Though Hong Kong is home to a number of people of different racial and ethnic origins, the overwhelming majority of Hongkongers are of Han Chinese descent. Many are Yue–speaking Cantonese peoples and trace their ancestral home to the adjacent province of Guangdong.

The territory is also home to other Han subgroups including the Hakka, Hoklo, Teochew (Chiuchow), Shanghainese, Sichuanese and Taiwanese. Meanwhile, non-Han Chinese Hongkongers such as the British, Filipinos, Indonesians, South Asians and Vietnamese make up six percent of Hong Kong's population.[16]


The terms Hongkonger and Hong Kongese are used to denote a resident of Hong Kong, including permanent and non-permanent residents. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word Hongkonger first appeared in the English language in an 1870 edition of The Daily Independent, an American-based newspaper.[17] In March 2014, both the terms Hongkonger and Hong Kongese were added to the Oxford English Dictionary.[18][19][20]

In contrast, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of American English adopts the form Hong Konger instead.[21][22] The form Hong Konger also seems to be preferred by governments around the world. In 2008, the U.S. Government Publishing Office decided to include Hong Konger as a demonym for Hong Kong in its official Style Manual.[23][24] The Companies House of the UK government similarly added Hong Konger to its standard list of nationalities in September 2020.[24]

The aforementioned terms all translate to the same term in Cantonese, 香港人 (Cantonese Yale: Hèung Góng Yàhn). The direct translation of this is Hong Kong person.

During the British colonial era, terms like Hong Kong Chinese and Hong Kong Britons were used to distinguish the British and Chinese populations that lived in the city.

Residency status

The term Hongkongers most often refers to legal residents of Hong Kong, as recognised under Hong Kong Basic Law. Hong Kong Basic Law gives a precise legal definition of a Hong Kong resident. Under Article 24 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents can be further classified as permanent or non-permanent residents. Non-permanent residents are those who have the right to hold a Hong Kong Identity Card, but do not have the right to abode in Hong Kong. Permanent residents are those who have the right to hold a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card as well as the right of abode.

The Basic Law allows residents to acquire right of abode by birth in Hong Kong, or in some other ways. For example, residents of China may settle in Hong Kong for family reunification purposes if they obtain a one-way permit (for which there may be a waiting time of several years).

Formally speaking, the government of Hong Kong does not confer its own citizenship, although the term Hong Kong citizen is used colloquially to refer to permanent residents of the city.[b] Hong Kong does not require applicants for naturalisation to take a language test to become a permanent resident.[25] However, Hong Kong migrants and residents are assumed to understand their obligation under Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law to abide by the laws of Hong Kong.

Ethnicity and background

"Hongkonger ethnic group" is manually written in the questionnaire of the 2018 New Zealand census.

According to Hong Kong's 2021 census, 91.6 per cent of its population is Han Chinese,[26] with 29.9 per cent having been born in mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.[26] Historically, much of the Han Chinese trace their ancestral origins from Southern China as Chaoshan, Canton, Taishan, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang. For example, in the 1850s–60s as a result of the Taiping Rebellion[27][28] and in the 1940s prior to the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Thus, immigrants from Guangdong and their descendants have long constituted the majority of the ethnic Chinese residents of Hong Kong, which accounts for the city's broad Cantonese culture. The Cantonese language, a form of Yue Chinese, is the primary language of Hong Kong and that used in the media and education.[29] For that reason, while there are groups with ancestral roots in more distant parts of China, such as Shanghai and Shandong, as well as members of other Han Chinese subgroups, such as the Hakka, Hokkien, and Teochew,[30][31][32][33] residents who are Hong Kong-born and/or raised often assimilate into the mainstream Cantonese identity of Hong Kong and typically adopt Cantonese as their first language.[34]

Ethnic minorities

In addition to the Han Chinese supermajority,[26] Hong Kong's minority population also comprises many other different ethnic and national groups, with the largest non-Han Chinese groups being the Southeast Asian community which include the Filipinos (2.7 per cent), Indonesians (1.9 per cent), as well as the Thais and Vietnamese.[30][35][26] In 2021, 0.8 per cent of Hong Kong's population were of European ancestry, many (48.9 per cent) of whom resided on Hong Kong Island, where they constitute 2.5 per cent of the population.[26] There are long-established South Asian communities, which comprise both descendants of 19th and early 20th-century migrants as well as more recent short-term expatriates. There are small pockets of South Asian communities who live in Hong Kong including Indians, Nepalese, and Pakistanis, who respectively made up 0.6 per cent, 0.4 per cent, and 0.3 per cent of Hong Kong's population in 2021.[26] Smaller diaspora groups from the Anglosphere include Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders. There are also small pockets of East Asian communities, such as the Japanese and Koreans, living in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong population by ancestral origin (1961–1981)
Ancestry 1961 1971 1981
Number Percentage Number Percentage Number Percentage
Hong Kong 260,505 8.3 185,699 4.7 124,279 2.5
Guangzhou and Macau 1,521,715 48.6 2,072,083 52.6 2,455,749 49.2
Sze Yap 573,855 18.3 684,774 17.4 814,309 16.3
Chaozhou 257,319 8.2 391,454 9.9 566,044 11.4
Other parts of Guangdong 244,237 7.8 250,215 6.4 470,288 9.4
Fujian, Taiwan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang 178,626 5.7 235,872 6.0 351,454 7.0
Other parts of China 43,644 1.4 48,921 1.2 103,531 2.1
Foreigners[clarification needed] 49,747 1.6 67,612 1.7 100,906 2.0
Total 3,129,648 3,936,630 4,986,560


Proportion of Population (5+) Able to Speak Selected Languages[36]
2006[36] 2011[36] 2016[36] 2021[26]
% % % %
Cantonese 96.5 95.8 94.6 93.7
English 44.7 46.1 53.2 58.7
Mandarin 40.2 47.8 48.6 54.2
Hakka 4.7 4.7 4.2 3.6
Hokkien 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.1
Tagalog 1.4 1.7 2.7 2.8
Chiu Chow 3.9 3.8 3.4 2.8
Bahasa Indonesia 1.7 2.4 2.7 2.5
Japanese 1.2 1.5 1.8 2.1
Shanghainese 1.2 1.1 1.1 0.8


Estimated number of adherents in Hong Kong by religion[37][38]
Region 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2016 2021
Buddhists > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million
Taoists ≈ 1 million ≈ 1 million ≈ 1 million ≈ 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million > 1 million
Protestant 320,000 320,000 480,000 480,000 480,000 ≈ 500,000 500,000 500,000
Catholics 350,000 350,000 353,000 363,000 363,000 368,000 384,000 401,000
Muslims 220,000 220,000 220,000 220,000 270,000 300,000 300,000 300,000
Hindu 40,000 40,000 40,000 40,000 40,000 40,000 100,000 100,000
Sikhs 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 12,000 12,000

Cultural identity

Hong Kong culture is primarily a mix of Chinese and Western influences, stemming from Lingnan Cantonese roots and later fusing with British culture due to British colonialism (Chinese: 粵英薈萃; Jyutping: jyut6 jing1 wui6 seoi6).

From 26 January 1841 to 30 June 1997, Hong Kong was formally a British Dependent Territory.[c] English was introduced as an official language of Hong Kong during British colonial rule, alongside the indigenous Chinese language, notably Cantonese. While it was an overseas territory, Hong Kong participated in a variety of organisations from the Commonwealth Family network. Hong Kong ended its participation with most Commonwealth Family organisations after the handover of Hong Kong in 1997; although it still participates in the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.[citation needed] Moreover, Hong Kong also has indigenous people and ethnic minorities from South and Southeast Asia, whose cultures all play integral parts in modern day Hong Kong culture. As a result, after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong has continued to develop a unique identity under the rubric of One Country Two Systems.[39]

After the handover of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong surveyed Hong Kong residents about how they defined themselves. In its latest poll published in June 2022, 39.1% of respondents identified as Hong Konger, 31.4% as Hong Konger in China, 17.6% as Chinese, 10.9% as Chinese in Hong Kong, and 42.4% as mixed identity.[40]


Mainland China holds the largest number of Hong Kong expatriates. Although the Hong Kong diaspora can also be found in Taiwan and several English-speaking countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom. and United States. Most Hong Kongers living outside of Greater China form a part of the larger overseas Chinese community. The migration of Hong Kongers to other parts of the world accelerated in the years prior to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, although a significant percentage returned. Another emigration wave occurred following the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests and the United Kingdom's enactment of the BNO visa scheme.

See also

Diasporic communities in Hong Kong



  1. ^ The following figure is the number of Hong Kong-born Canadians living in Canada, as reported in the 2021 Canadian Census. However in 2001, it was estimated that there were 616,000 Hong Kong Canadians residing in Canada, Hong Kong, or elsewhere.[5]
  2. ^ a b Formally, the government of Hong Kong does not confer "citizenship". The term Hong Kong citizen is a colloquialism used to denote a permanent resident of Hong Kong. Permanent residents of Hong Kong typically hold citizenship from China or another sovereign state.[15]
  3. ^ From the 19th century to 1983, British Dependent Territories were referred to as Crown Colonies. Several years after the handover of Hong Kong, British Dependent Territories were renamed British Overseas Territories.


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  25. ^ Lai Tung-kwok (22 May 2013). "Application for naturalisation as a Chinese national". Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.; quote: "However, it has to be pointed out that the knowledge of the Chinese language is only one of the factors to be considered. This does not imply that applicants who do not know Chinese will be refused, nor will those who know Chinese necessarily be eligible for naturalisation as Chinese nationals. ... At this stage, we have no plan to institute examinations similar to those used by some foreign countries in handling naturalisation applications."
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