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Total population
c. 7.33 million[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Hong Kong7,234,800[2]
 Mainland China472,900[3]
 United States330,000[4]
 United Kingdom145,000[7]
Cantonese (first language),
Hong Kong English (second language),
Non-religious with ancestral worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and other faiths
Related ethnic groups
Cantonese people, Macau people, Hoklo people, Hakka people, Teochew people, Shanghainese people

Hongkongers (Chinese: 香港人), also known as Hong Kongers, Hong Kongese,[13] Hongkongese,[14] Hong Kong citizen[b] and Hong Kong people, typically refers to legal residents of the city of Hong Kong; although may also refer to others who were born and/or raised in the city.

The majority of Hongkongers are of Cantonese Han Chinese descent, most of whom trace their ancestral home to the province of Guangdong. However, the city also holds other Han Chinese subgroups including the Hakka, Hoklo, Teochew (Chiuchow), Shanghainese, Sichuanese and Taiwanese. Meanwhile, non-Han Chinese Hongkongers such as the British, Filipinos, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, South Asians and Vietnamese also make up six per cent of Hong Kong's population.[16]

Mainland China holds the largest number of Hong Kong expatriates, although the Hong Kong diaspora can also be found in several English-speaking countries. Most Hongkongers living outside China form a part of the larger overseas Chinese community. The migration of Hongkongers to other parts of the world accelerated in the years prior to the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997. Another wave of Hongkongers emigrating from the city also occurred during the 2010s, as a result of the Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict.


The terms Hongkonger and Hong Kongese are used to denote a residents 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[edit]

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 have no 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, 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[edit]

So-called "Hongkonger ethnic group" is manually added in the questionnaire of the 2020 New Zealand census.

According to Hong Kong's 2016 census, 92 per cent of its population is ethnically Chinese,[26] with 32.1 per cent having been born in Mainland China, Taiwan or Macau.[27] Historically, many Chinese people have migrated from areas such as Canton to Hong Kong, for example in the 1850s–60s as a result of the Taiping Rebellion[28][29] 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.[30] 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 Hakka, Hokkien, and Teochew,[31][32][33][34] 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.[35]

In addition to the Han Chinese majority, Hong Kong's minority population also comprises many other different ethnic and national groups, with the largest non-Chinese groups being Filipinos (1.9 per cent) and Indonesians (also 1.9 per cent).[31] 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. South Asians include Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese, who respectively made up 0.4 per cent, 0.3 per cent, and 0.2 per cent of Hong Kong's population in 2011.[31] Smaller groups include Americans, Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Japanese, Koreans, Russians, Vietnamese and Thais.[31][36] In 2011, 0.8 per cent of Hong Kong's population were European, many (53.5 per cent) of whom resided on Hong Kong Island, where they constitute 2.3 per cent of the population.[37]

Hong Kong population by ancestral origin (1961-1981)
Ancestry 1961 1971[citation needed] 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[citation needed] 49,747 1.6 67,612 1.7 100,906 2.0
Total 3,129,648 3,936,630 4,986,560

Cultural identity[edit]

From 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 still participates in the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association.[citation needed]

After the handover of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong surveyed Hong Kong residents about how they defined themselves. During that time, a separate Hongkonger national identity formed, with only 20 per cent of Hong Kongers considering themselves to as "Chinese".[38] A poll from 2014 found that approximately 38 per cent of Hong Konger residents identified solely as Hong Kong citizens, 25 per cent identified as Chinese Hong Kong citizens, 18 per cent as Hong Kong Chinese citizens, and 17 per cent as Chinese citizens.[39][40] Another poll by the University of Hong Kong in 2019 found 75 per cent of respondents aged between 18 and 29 identified as "Hongkongers".[41] By the late-2010s, the vast majority of young Hongkongers saw themselves as a separate nation and did not consider themselves to be "Chinese".[42][38][43][44][d]

The identity crisis is further heightened by demographic changes, in which Mainland China immigrants made up of a considerable portion of the migrant population post-1997.

Some Hong Kong independence supporters reject the term "Hongkongers" as a subordinate of the Greater Chinese ethnic group and attempt to define the concept of "Hong Kong nation" which is completely separate from Chinese nationality.[citation needed] Some of the major advocates are Hong Kong National Party and Hong Kong Independence Party.

2020 Nobel Peace Prize nomination[edit]

On 15 October 2019, Norwegian lawmaker Guri Melby announced that she nominated the people of Hong Kong "who risk their lives and security every day to stand up for freedom of speech and basic democracy" for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020.[45] Several months later, on 8 February 2020, eight U.S. lawmakers nominated the pro-democracy movement of Hong Kong to receive the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their efforts to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy, human rights, and the rule of law as guaranteed in the Sino-British Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law.[46][47]

However, on 27 August 2020, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi cautioned against awarding the prize to Hong Kong protesters.[48]

See also[edit]

Hong Kong diaspora:

Expatriates living in Hong Kong:




  1. ^ The following figure is the number of Hong Kong-born Canadians living in Canada, as reported in the 2016 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, there is no "Hong Kong citizen", with the terminology being used to denote a permanent resident of Hong Kong. Permanent residents of Hong Kong typically hold citizenship from China or from 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.
  4. ^ Depending on the context, Chinese people may refer to ethnicity or nationality.


  1. ^ "2016 Hong Kong Mid-term Demographics". Archived from the original on 6 November 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Hong Kong - the World Factbook". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Enhanced Method for Compiling Statistics on Hong Kong Residents Having Resided / Having Stayed Substantially in the Mainland" (PDF). Census and Statistics Department, Government of Hong Kong. March 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 October 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". www.ocac.gov.tw. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "僑委會全球資訊網" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2012.
  6. ^ Young, Ian (13 June 2019). "Thousands of Hong Kong-born people move back to Canada, once again reversing a migration that has shaped cities across the Pacific". South China Morning Post. SCMP Publishers. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 25 April 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  8. ^ "臺灣地區居留外僑統計". 統計資料. 內政部入出國及移民署. 31 December 2011. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  9. ^ "2016 Census Community Profiles: Australia". www.censusdata.abs.gov.au. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Population Census – Official statistics". Statistics and Census Service, Government of Macao Special Administrative Region. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  11. ^ "CBS Statline". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Hong Kongese". English Oxford Living Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Hongkongese". MSN News.
  15. ^ Fong, Vanessa L.; Murphy, Rachel (2006). Chinese Citizenship: Views from the Margins. p. 149. ISBN 1-1341-9597-4.
  16. ^ "2011 Hong Kong Consesus, Volume 1, Table 3.9" (PDF).
  17. ^ Lam, Jeffie (19 March 2014). "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary – Amid anti-mainland sentiment, Oxford dictionary recognises city's local identity". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 June 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Hongkonger – definition of Hongkonger in English from the Oxford dictionary". www.oxforddictionaries.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Hong Kongese | Definition of Hong Kongese by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Hong Kongese". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  21. ^ "Definition of HONG KONG". www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  22. ^ "'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary". 19 March 2014. Archived from the original on 1 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  23. ^ U.S. Government Printing Office (16 September 2008). "Style Manual 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 2 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ a b "List of nationalities". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  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."
  26. ^ 2016 Population By-census – Summary Results (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2016. p. 37. Archived from the original on 20 November 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Place of Birth of Overall Population – 2011". Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  28. ^ John Thomson 1837–1921,Chap on Hong Kong Archived 19 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Illustrations of China and Its People (London,1873–1874)
  29. ^ Info Gov HK. "Hong Kong Gov Info." History of Hong Kong. Retrieved on 16 February 2007. Archived 18 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Alex Lo (February 2014). "Why Cantonese is a real language in Hong Kong". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  31. ^ a b c d 2011 Population Census – Summary Results (PDF) (Report). Census and Statistics Department. February 2012. p. 37. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  32. ^ Melvin Ember; Carol R. Ember; Ian Skoggard, eds. (2005). Encyclopedia of diasporas: immigrant and refugee cultures around the world. Diaspora communities. Vol. 2. Springer. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-0-306-48321-9.
  33. ^ "Immigration Autonomy". Immigration Department Annual Report 2009-2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2012.
  34. ^ Ng Sek Hong (2010). Labour Law in Hong Kong. Kluwer Law International. p. 19. ISBN 978-90-411-3307-6.
  35. ^ "Han Chinese, Cantonese in China, Hong Kong". 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  36. ^ Odine de Guzman (October 2003). "Overseas Filipino Workers, Labor Circulation in Southeast Asia, and the (Mis)management of Overseas Migration Programs". Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia (4). Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 18 March 2007.
  37. ^ "Population by Ethnicity and District Council District, 2011 (A205)". Census and Statistics Department. May 2012. Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  38. ^ a b "Almost nobody in Hong Kong under 30 identifies as "Chinese"". The Economist.
  39. ^ "HKU POP releases latest survey on Hong Kong citizen's ethnic identity". hkupop.hku.hk. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  40. ^ Hong Kong's Enduring Identity Crisis Archived 1 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine Veg, Sebastian, The Atlantic, 16 October 2013.
  41. ^ Veg, Sebastian. "Hong Kong's Enduring Identity Crisis". The Atlantic.
  42. ^ "身分類別認同 – 「中國人」(按年齡組別)" (in Traditional Chinese). Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  43. ^ "Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Hongkonger? The Construction of National Identity in light of the Anti-Moral and National Education Movement and the Umbrella Movement in Post-1997 Hong Kong". The University of Manchester.
  44. ^ "Hong Kong's Protests Have Cemented Its Identity". The Atlantic.
  45. ^ Grundy, Tom (16 October 2019). "Hongkongers nominated for Nobel Peace Prize". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (in British English). Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  46. ^ "Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Nominates Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement for the Nobel Peace Prize". Congressional-Executive Commission on China. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 6 September 2020. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  47. ^ Flannery, Russell. "U.S. Lawmakers Nominate Hong Kong Protesters For Nobel Peace Prize". Forbes. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  48. ^ "China Warns Norway Against Peace Prize for Hong Kong Protesters". Bloomberg.com. 28 August 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2020.

External links[edit]