16 September 2019
Hong Kong's got lots of genuinely unique features that make it one of a kind in the world. Photo: Jimmy Lau
Hong Kong's got lots of genuinely unique features that make it one of a kind in the world. Photo: Jimmy Lau

Hong Kong trivia you probably didn’t know

Live in a shoebox. Work for long hours. Forget about job security. Toil for peanuts.

That’s the Hong Kong lifestyle.

We’re not complaining. Or probably we are. But our city has much more to offer, and it’s got lots of genuinely unique features that make it one of a kind in the world.

We’re not going to repeat the government’s hackneyed rhetoric – the latest one being “Appreciate Hong Kong”.

The new official campaign to whip up positive sentiments in the city with freebies, shopping events and carnivals probably won’t fly, and one reason is that it’s hard to take Hongkongers for a ride.

We’re exceptionally smart. According to California-based think tank Statistic Brain Research Institute, Hong Kong people have the highest IQ average in the world at 107.

Only 10 countries broke the 100 mark in the Statistic Brain rankings.

Not only that. Many of us are bound to become centenarians.

The city’s male population is among the longest living, with a life expectancy of 81 years as of 2013, while our ladies come in second in the world, after their Japanese counterparts, with an expected lifespan of 87 years.

The United Nations puts Hong Kong in the first place in its World Population Prospects 2015 with an overall life expectancy at birth of 83.7 years.

It’s indeed such a blessing to live in the city. Just don’t mind the cramped living quarters too much.

Here are some more fun facts about our city, some of which can be mind-blowing:

- There is one restaurant for every 300 people in Hong Kong, the highest per capita concentration on the planet, according to figures from the SAR government. Foodies are surely spoiled. That is why the catering industry is always hungry for chefs and assistants. One restaurant in Tung Chung even promised to pay HK$20,000 to recruit dishwashers, according to media reports.

- Hong Kong has the most number of skyscrapers, which refer to buildings with a height of at least 100 meters. With 1,268 such edifices, Hong Kong easily outstrips New York City (684), Tokyo (411), Chicago (302), Dubai (523), Shanghai (239) and other global metropolises on a list compiled by the German-based architecture database Emporis.

- The SAR government owns all the land in Hong Kong. It auctions or lease out plots. The only exception is the site of St. John’s Cathedral in Central, the Diocesan Cathedral of the Diocese of Hong Kong Island and the seat of the Archbishop of Hong Kong. The site is the only freehold land with unlimited time ownership in the city, granted in pursuant to the Church of England Trust Ordinance. All other land tenure is leasehold in nature.

- Hong Kong has no standard format for addresses, and that’s because there are no standard district boundaries. Nor does the city have its own zip code system. All inbound mail is sorted by hand, according to the Hongkong Post.

- Most of the city’s toilets use salt water with a separate set of pipes. Nearly 80 percent of the population use seawater for flushing, according to the Water Supplies Department. An average of 742,530 cubic meters of seawater — screened by strainers to remove sizeable particles and disinfected — is pumped into service reservoirs everyday, conserving an equivalent amount of potable water. Seawater is also used by the Fire Services Department.

There are some more about politics.

- It’s harder for a mainland Chinese to settle in Hong Kong than a non-Chinese. The SAR government has autonomy in granting residency yet mainlanders who want to reside in Hong Kong must either enter through one of the visa programs or get a one-way pass intended for family reunion purposes. Mainland authorities have the absolute discretion in the process.

- It’s very likely that a secret branch of the Chinese Communist Party has been operating in Hong Kong for decades, likely under the disguise of the Liaison Office. Its incumbent director Zhang Xiaoming (張曉明) is dubbed the city’s party secretary. The unusual thing about CCP Hong Kong, if it does exist, is that it happens to be “illegal”, as all organizations including companies, societies, trade unions and credit unions must be registered under the Companies Ordinance or the Societies Ordinance.

- The 1997 handover ceremony was held indoors, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Thus, there was no wind to make the flags wave. The Chinese punched holes in the flagpoles and put powerful fans at the base to blow air up through vents so the flags would fly.

- There is no specific clause in the Sino-British Joint Declaration that provides the exact time for the handover on July 1, 1997. It could be in the morning, afternoon or any time. Beijing refused to discuss this as a single second more is unacceptable after 157 years of waiting. Ultimately, the two sides agreed the ceremony would start before midnight of June 30th to make sure the Chinese flag could fly at exactly 00:00:00, the next day, as revealed in a Xinhua documentary on the handover.

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EJ Insight writer