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Hong Kong is a place with multiple personalities, as a result of being both Cantonese Chinese and under a more recent contemporary ex-British influence. Today, the former British colony is a major tourism destination for China's increasingly affluent mainland population. It is also an important hub in East Asia with global connections to many of the world's cities. It is a unique destination that has absorbed people and cultural influences from places as diverse as Vietnam and Vancouver and proudly proclaims itself to be Asia's World City.
While "legally" part of China, Hong Kong is secluded from mainland China as a dependency with a high degree of autonomy. The former colony has its own constitution which lays out its own government, own laws, separate immigration controls, financial system, own passport and is officially bi-lingual (Cantonese and English). It also enjoys western-style freedoms unheard of on the Chinese mainland. The ideals of a free and open society are firmly rooted here. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is much more than a harbor city. The traveler weary of its crowded streets may be tempted to describe it as Hong Kongcrete. Yet, this territory with its cloudy mountains and rocky islands is mostly a rural landscape. Much of the countryside is classified as Country Park and, although 7 million people are never far away, it is possible to find pockets of wilderness that will reward the more intrepid tourist.