25th anniversary of HK's return: Population in five charts
Updated 11:30, 28-Jun-2022
By Zhao Hong

Hong Kong is poised to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its return to the motherland on July 1.

CGTN explores Hong Kong's demographic evolution to see how its population has changed over those 25 years, with data from the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department.

Total population

According to the 2021 census, the total population of Hong Kong is approximately 7.4 million, an increase of 1 million from 25 years ago.

Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world, with an average of 6,656 people per square kilometer in 2021.

Population by ethnicity

Ethnic Chinese comprise the vast majority of Hong Kong's population, while about 8 percent are non-ethnic Chinese. The region's ethnic minorities form a vibrant community. Filipinos and Indonesians are the two largest ethnic minority groups, respectively constituting 2.7 percent and 2 percent of the population. Most of them are foreign domestic helpers.

Population by language spoken

Hong Kong's rich blend of cultures is a major part of its unique character. While Chinese and English are Hong Kong's official languages, the predominant language is Cantonese, spoken daily by 88.2 percent of the population.

Before Hong Kong's return in 1997, only 1 percent of the population aged 5 and over spoke Mandarin as their first language, but 25 years later, that figure has doubled. The proportion of Mandarin speakers has increased from one quarter in 1996 to more than half in 2021.

Trilingual professionals who speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin play a vital role in the numerous enterprises that trade in Hong Kong or do business with the Chinese mainland or Taiwan region.

Population by age group

Hong Kong's population is aging. The proportion of residents aged under 15 decreased from 19 percent in 1996 to 11 percent in 2021. In contrast, that of elderly aged 65 and over increased from 10 percent to 20 percent over the same period. Reflecting these two changes, the population's median age rose from 34 in 1996 to 46.3 in 2021.

The aging population is the result of low fertility rate and longer life expectancy.

Hong Kong's fertility rate is among the lowest in the world. It has dropped even further due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the total fertility rate dropped from 1,064 per 1,000 females in 2019 to 774 last year, the crude birth rate dropped to a record low of five births per 1,000 people in 2021.

Life expectancy at birth

Residents of Hong Kong enjoy long life expectancy as a result of improvement in public health measures, food availability and chronic disease treatment. In 2021, life expectancy at birth was 83 years for men and 88 years for women, an increase of some six years over the past 25 years. Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong is the highest in the world, according to the World Bank.

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