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International Information - H

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Haiti is a country in the West Indies. It covers the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic covers eastern Hispaniola. Most of Haiti is mountainous, and the country's name comes from an Indian word that means high ground.
Haiti is one of the most densely populated and least developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. Most Haitians are farmers who raise barely enough food to feed their families. The country has a shortage of hospitals and doctors. Because of poor diet and medical care - especially in rural areas - the average Haitian lives only about 50 years.
Haiti is the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere. Only the United States is older. Haiti has been independent since 1804, but most of the time it has been ruled by dictators who have not been interested in the welfare of the people.
Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola in 1492. His crew established a Spanish base in what is now Haiti. Later, French settlers developed Haiti into what was then the richest colony in the Caribbean.
Haiti's official name in French, one of the official languages, is Republique d'Haiti. Its official name in Creole, the other official language, is Repiblik dAyiti. Both official names mean Republic of Haiti. Port-au-Prince is Haiti's largest city.
Official languages
French and Creole.
10,714 sq. mi. (27,750 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 180 mi. (290 km);
north-south, 135 mi. (217 km).
Coastline - 672 mi. (1,081 km), including offshore islands.
Highest - Pic La Selle, 8,783 ft. (2,677 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 7,328,000; density, 684 persons per sq. mi. (264 per sq. km); distribution, 68 percent rural, 32 percent urban. 1982 census - 5,053,792. Estimated 2001 population - 8,123,000.
Basic unit - gourde.
Chief products
Agriculture - coffee, sisal, sugar cane.
National anthem
"La Dessalienne" ("Song of Dessalines").
National flag
The dark blue top half of the national flag, flown by the people, stands for the blacks of Haiti; the red bottom half represents its mulattoes. In the centre of the state flag, used by the government, is the Haitian coat of arms.

Heard Island is an Australian territory in the far southern Indian Ocean. It lies about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) southwest of Fremantle. Heard Island is about 27 miles (43 kilometres) long and 13 miles (21 kilometres) wide. Britain transferred the island to Australia in 1947.

Honduras is a small Central American country that is known for the production of bananas. Honduras is a poor country. Its people have a low average income.
Bananas are Honduras's leading source of income. They are grown in the northern lowlands along the Caribbean Sea. In the inland mountains, many people raise beans, cattle, coffee, and corn. Tegucigalpa, the largest city of Honduras, is located in this region. The country has limited transportation, and Tegucigalpa is one of the few capitals in the world with no railroad. Hondurans raise cattle and cotton on the plains bordering the Pacific Ocean in the southern part of the country.
The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Honduras in 1502. Columbus or a later explorer called the land Honduras, the Spanish word for depths, because of the deep waters off the northern coast of the country.
Official Language
43,277 sq. mi. (112,088 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 405 mi. (652 km);
north-south, 240 mi. (386 km).
Coastlines - Caribbean, 382 mi. (615 km); Pacific, 48 mi. (77 km).
Highest - Cerro Las Minas, 9,347 ft. (2,849 m) above sea level.
Lowest - sea level along the coasts.
Estimated 1996 population - 6,132,000; density, 142 persons per sq. mi. (55 per sq. km); distribution, 52 percent rural, 48 percent urban. 1988 census - 4,248,561. Estimated 2001 population - 7,016,000.
Basic unit - lempira. One hundred centavos equal one lempira.
Chief Products
Agriculture - bananas, beans, beef and dairy cattle, coffee, corn, cotton, milk, sugar cane, rice, tobacco.
Manufacturing - clothing and textiles, cigarettes, lumber, processed foods and beverages.
Mining - lead, silver, zinc.
National Holiday
Independence Day, September 15.
National Anthem
"Himno Nacional de Honduras" ("National Hymn of Honduras").

Hong Kong (pop. 6,566,000) is a special administrative region of China. It lies on China's southern coast, near the mouth of the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River). Hong Kong is a major port of Asia. It is also a centre of trade, finance, and tourism.
Hong Kong consists of a peninsula attached to the mainland of China, and more than 235 islands. The peninsula has two sections - the New Territories in the north and the Kowloon Peninsula in the south. The main island, Hong Kong Island, lies south of the peninsula.
Hong Kong was part of China from ancient times until the 1800's. Through treaty agreements with China, Britain gained control of Hong Kong Island in 1842 and of the Kowloon Peninsula and tiny Stonecutters Island west of the peninsula in 1860. On July 1, 1898, China leased to Britain for 99 years the New Territories and the rest of the islands. China demanded the return of the entire colony when the New Territories lease expired and took control of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997.
The cities of Kowloon and Hong Kong are the region's largest cities and its main centres of business, industry, and tourism. Many small shops, open markets, and high-rise buildings line the narrow streets of these areas.
Kowloon and Hong Kong lie on opposite sides of Victoria Harbour. Kowloon is on the southern part of the mainland, and Hong Kong lies on the northern part of Hong Kong Island. The two cities are connected by ferries, three motor-vehicle tunnels under the harbour, and an underwater subway. Every day, millions of people travel between the cities to work or to shop. The Chinese call the entire area hong kong (fragrant harbour).
Kowloon is the region's largest and most crowded city. About 21/2 million people live in this urban area.
The area in south Kowloon at the tip of the peninsula is called Tsim Sha Tsui. Passenger ships dock there at Ocean Terminal, one of the largest piers in Asia. Tsim Sha Tsui has many shops, hotels, and restaurants, and it is a major shopping area for tourists. Tourists also flock to stores along Nathan Road in the center of Kowloon to buy cameras, jewelry, custom-made clothing, and other products. Many merchants sell their goods in the streets or at open-air marketplaces. The marketplaces offer such items as fresh vegetables, fish and poultry, and household goods. Northern Kowloon has many public housing developments and factories.
A railroad runs through the New Territories and connects Kowloon with Guangzhou, China. Ferries, buses, and airlines also provide service between Kowloon and Guangzhou.
Hong Kong has a population of about 11/2 million. The city's Central District, often called simply Central, is the region's seat of government and financial centre. Government buildings and banks and other financial establishments are in Central District. Residents own some of the banks. Others are branches of banks of Britain, China, Japan, the United States, and other countries. The towering Bank of China building, designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, is one of the tallest buildings in the region. It stands at the eastern edge of Central District. High-rise commercial buildings and fashionable shops and hotels stand along the waterfront.
Many people live in crowded apartments in the WanChai area, east of Central District. Many government buildings stand on filled-in land along the Wan Chai coast. A business centre has sprung up around them. To the east of this centre is the Japanese shopping district of Causeway Bay.
A beautiful mountain called Tai Ping Shan (also called Victoria Peak) rises southwest of Central District. Luxury apartment buildings and attractive houses line the steep sides of the mountain. A railway called the Peak Tram transports passengers between Central District and the top of the mountain.
Hong Kong covers a total area of 1,126 square miles (2,916 square kilometres). Only about 415 square miles (1,075 square kilometres) is land. On average, Hong Kong has about 15,800 people per square mile (6,100 per square kilometre) of land. But much of Hong Kong's land is mountainous and uninhabitable. As a result, the population density varies widely. Hong Kong's cities are among the world's most crowded places.
About 98 percent of the people of Hong Kong are Chinese. Most are immigrants from southern China or descendants of immigrants from that region. The relatively few non-Chinese residents of Hong Kong include people from Australia, Britain, India, Japan, the United States, and Vietnam.
Hong Kong has two official languages, Chinese and English. Most of Hong Kong's Chinese people do not speak or understand English well, if at all. The majority of them speak Cantonese, a dialect of South China. Many people are learning putonghua, the standard form of spoken Chinese used throughout China.
About 96 percent of Hong Kong's people live in urban areas. Most urban dwellers live in the cities of Kowloon and Hong Kong.
Other urban settlements include a number of new towns in the New Territories. The government established these settlements to attract population from overcrowded urban areas. The new towns include manufacturing facilities as well as housing. The main new towns are Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, and Sha Tin. Development of a new town at Tung Chung on northern Lantau Island in western Hong Kong began in the 1990's in connection with the construction of a new airport at Chek Lap Kok.
Housing in Hong Kong's urban areas varies sharply. Rents and land prices are high. Most wealthy people live in luxury apartment buildings, and some live in beautiful houses with gardens. Large numbers of middle- and low-income people occupy crowded highrise apartment buildings, which stand close together. In many cases, several poor families share one or two small rooms.
Urban housing also includes huge apartment complexes that were built by the government. These dwellings provide low-rent accommodations for millions of people. The government charges rents according to the tenants' ability to pay. The government also encourages home ownership through the provision of subsidised housing or financial assistance.
People in rural areas of Hong Kong live in small farming villages and raise crops and livestock. Some farmers still plant and harvest crops by hand or with hand tools. But new farming methods and machinery promoted by the government have enabled many of Hong Kong's farmers to increase their production.
The majority of Hong Kong's rural people live in one- or two-story houses made of brick or stone. Most of the homes have tile or tin roofs. Some rural villages were settled more than 1,000 years ago.
Food and clothing. The people of Hong Kong eat large amounts of fresh vegetables, fish, and rice, and some poultry and pork. Many people wear the same type of clothing worn in Western countries. Others wear Chinese-style clothing, such as dark-coloured pants and shirts, and long robes.
The major religions in Hong Kong are Buddhism and Taoism. About 10 percent of the people are Christians. Small groups of Hindus, Jews, and Muslims also live there.
All children are required by law to go to school for nine years - six years of elementary school and three of high school. Classes in elementary schools are taught in Chinese. Some high schools use Chinese, some use English, and others use both languages.
Hong Kong has seven universities. The oldest is the University of Hong Kong, which was founded in 1911. Other universities include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the City University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Lingnan College.
Rugged mountains and rolling hills cover much of Hong Kong. The rocky, indented coastlines of Hong Kong's islands and mainland provide many small harbours for fishing villages. Some mountains in the New Territories rise more than 3,000 feet (900 metres) above sea level. Tai Ping Shan on Hong Kong Island is 1,818 feet (554 metres) high.
Barren mountains separate the business districts of the Kowloon Peninsula from farmland in the New Territories. Only about 8 percent of the land in Hong Kong is suitable for farming. Throughout the New Territories, poultry farms and vegetable and flower fields lie crowded between areas of poor vegetation and rocky hillsides. A river called the Sham Chun (also called Shenzhen) forms part of the border between Hong Kong and China.
Much of Hong Kong's harbor coastline has been filled in with earth to create new land. Hong Kong International Airport, at Kai Tak, was built on filled-in land in Kowloon Bay. In 1990, work began to level the hills on the island of Chek Lap Kok and increase its size with landfill to create space for a new airport to replace the one at Kai Tak. Chek Lap Kok lies north of Lantau Island on the western edge of Hong Kong. After the new airport opens, airplanes will no longer come in for a landing over the congested urban area of Kowloon. The new town at Tung Chung on Lantau Island will provide a supporting community for the new airport.
Hong Kong has hot, humid summers. The winters are cool and less humid. During the summer, temperatures reach 95 °F (35 °C) or higher. Winter temperatures seldom fall below 40 °F (4 °C).
Hong Kong receives about 87 inches (220 centimetres) of rainfall yearly. Most of the rain falls in summer and early fall and causes floods and mud slides. Insufficient rainfall during the winter and other factors cause water shortages. Hong Kong buys millions of gallons of water from a neighbouring region of China every year.
Hong Kong has one of the strongest and most varied economies in Asia. It is a centre of international trade, finance, and tourism. Hong Kong is a free port - that is, it collects no import duties on goods brought in from elsewhere. As a result, many products can be bought and sold more cheaply in Hong Kong than in most other parts of the world. Hong Kong has efficient telecommunications and a highly educated labor force. Business firms of many countries maintain offices in Hong Kong from which they carry on business with China.
Most workers are employed in service industries, especially wholesale and retail trade and community, social, and personal services. Other important service industries include transportation and finance, insurance, and real estate. Hong Kong is one of the world's most important gold trading centres. Its many banks finance housing, manufacturing, and trade in Hong Kong as well as in other parts of the world. Millions of tourists visit Hong Kong annually. The money they spend greatly aids the economy.
Hong Kong's many factories make a variety of products. Almost all manufactured products are sold to the rest of China or exported. Textiles and clothing account for about half the exports. Hong Kong also exports large quantities of electrical appliances, electronic equipment, plastic products, and watches and clocks. It sells its products chiefly to the rest of China and to Germany, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It purchases large quantities of food, machinery, and other raw materials mostly from China, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.
Agriculture is a minor economic activity in Hong Kong. Farm products include flowers, hogs, poultry, and vegetables. But Hong Kong also imports large amounts of food to meet its needs.
Fishing fleets catch bigeyes, false snappers, lizardfish, squid, and other seafood. Because there is a high demand for fish among the people of Hong Kong, fisheries also raise fish. Fisheries raise saltwater fish on the coast of the eastern New Territories and freshwater fish in ponds in the northwestern part of the New Territories.
The foundation of Hong Kong's government is the Basic Law, which became effective on July 1, 1997, when Hong Kong was transferred from British to Chinese rule. The Basic Law upholds the principle of "one country, two systems," which gives the Hong Kong special administrative region a high degree of autonomy (self-rule). China's National People's Congress has the authority to approve Hong Kong's laws and appointments of government officials. According to the Basic Law, the people of Hong Kong may elect deputies to the Congress.
The chief executive heads the government of Hong Kong and serves a five-year term. An election committee chose the first person to hold that post. The committee consisted of 400 people approved by the Chinese Congress. The Basic Law calls for the next chief executive to be elected by an 800-member election committee made up of citizens from various social and economic levels and members of several government bodies.
The Executive Council helps carry out government operations. The chief executive chooses council members.
The Legislative Council is Hong Kong's lawmaking body. According to the Basic Law, the term of office for council members is four years. A temporary legislature of 60 appointed members took office on July 1, 1997. Members were charged with working out the rules for an election to replace themselves within one year.
People have lived in what is now Hong Kong since ancient times. The area came under Chinese control about 220 B.C. Until the A.D. 1800's, it consisted of small fishing and farming villages. Pirates used Hong Kong as a land base.
During the 1800's, the Chinese government tried to stop British merchants from smuggling opium into China. In 1839, this issue led to the Opium War between China and Britain. Britain won the war and took control of the island of Hong Kong as part of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. In 1860, Britain gained control of the Kowloon Peninsula and tiny Stonecutters Island west of the peninsula as part of a settlement of further trade disputes with China. In 1898, China leased to Britain for 99 years the New Territories and the many islands that made up Hong Kong.
During the late 1800's and early 1900's, Hong Kong served as a port for British trade with China. In 1911 and 1912, a wave of immigration from China greatly increased Hong Kong's population. During that period, Chinese revolutionaries overthrew China's Manchu dy-nasty and established the Republic of China. Many Chinese people fled to Hong Kong. In 1937, Japan invaded China and, once again, large numbers of Chinese fled to Hong Kong.
From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, the population of Hong Kong decreased. Japanese troops occupied Hong Kong during that period, and many Chinese returned to China.
In 1949, Communists took control of China. Many Chinese people moved to Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist government never formally recognised Britain's control of Hong Kong. But it did not actively oppose British rule, probably because Hong Kong has great value for the Chinese economy. In the 1950's, Hong Kong began to develop into a centre of international trade and finance, and it also began to develop many industries.
In 1962, a threat of widespread starvation in China set off another wave of Chinese immigration to Hong Kong. In the late 1960's, some of Hong Kong's Chinese residents held violent demonstrations against British control. But the Chinese government did not try to take control of Hong Kong, and the riots ended. In the late 1970's and the 1980's, following the Vietnam War (1957-1975), thousands of Vietnamese fled to Hong Kong.
In the early 1980's, China and Britain began negotiations on an agreement to transfer Hong Kong back to China when Britain's lease of the New Territories expired in 1997. The agreement, signed in 1984, stated that Hong Kong would become a special administrative region (SAR) of China on July 1, 1997. China declared the relationship would be that of "one country, two systems." Under the terms of the agreement, Hong Kong would be allowed to maintain its free-enterprise economy within the government-controlled economic system of China for at least 50 years after 1997.
After the signing of the agreement, economic cooperation between Hong Kong and China increased dramatically. China began to invest more and more money in Hong Kong to help strengthen Hong Kong's economy as well as the Chinese economy. Hong Kong industrialists began moving manufacturing activities to China's Pearl River Delta to take advantage of the inexpensive labour available there. Much employment in Hong Kong shifted from low-cost manufacturing to service industries.
In 1985, committees were established to prepare the Basic Law, the framework for Hong Kong's administration. The Basic Law was approved by the Chinese government in 1990 and went into effect on July 1, 1997. According to the provisions of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong SAR retains its own executive, legislative, and judicial power. It may issue its own currency and passports, maintain its own customs force and police, and remain a free port. China is responsible for Hong Kong's defense and foreign policy.

Hungary is a small, landlocked country in central Europe. Great economic and social changes have occurred in Hungary since the late 1940's. Before that time, most of the country's income came from agriculture, and the majority of Hungarians lived in rural areas and worked on farms. But Hungary's economy has become increasingly industrialised. Today, manufacturing and other industries contribute more to the national income than does farming. More Hungarians work in industry than on farms. Almost a fifth of Hungary's people live in Budapest, the country's largest city.
As Hungary has become more industrialised, modern city ways of life have become popular. Many of the country's old rural customs are thus disappearing. But Hungarians still love the highly seasoned foods, excellent wines, and lively folk music for which they have long been famous.
Most of eastern Hungary is nearly flat, but the western part has hills and low mountains. The chief natural resources include fertile soil and a favourable climate for farming.
Hungary was a large, independent, and powerful kingdom until the late 1400's. From the early 1500's to the late 1600's, the Ottoman Empire ruled much of Hungary. The country then became part of a huge empire ruled by the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs, a powerful European dynasty (line of rulers). The empire of the Habsburgs collapsed after World War I ended in 1918. Hungary then lost about two-thirds of its land but regained its independence.
In the late 1940's, Hungarian Communists gained control of the country's government and banned all other political parties. They adopted a constitution similar to that of the Soviet Union. Hungary's Communist leaders began to restrict the freedom of the people and to manage the entire economy.
Official Language
Magyar (Hungarian).
Official Name
Magyar Koztarsasag (Republic of Hungary).
35,920 sq. mi. (93,032 sq. km).
Greatest distances
east-west, 312 mi. (502 km);
north-south, 193 mi. (311 km).
Highest - Mount Kekes, 3,330 ft. (1,015 m) above sea level.
Lowest - near Szeged, 259 ft. (79 m) above sea level.
Estimated 1996 population - 10,471,000; density, 292 persons per sq. mi. (113 per sq. km); distribution, 68 percent urban, 32 percent rural. 1990 census - 10,374,823. Estimated 2001 population - 10,518,000.
Chief Products
Agriculture - wheat, corn, hogs, milk, potatoes, grapes, chickens and eggs, sugar beets.
Manufacturing - steel, buses and railroad equipment, electrical and electronic goods, food products, pharmaceuticals, medical and scientific equipment, textiles.
Mining - bauxite.
Capital city
901 miles from London
GMT +1 hour
International aircraft prefix
International dialling code
00 36
Forint (HUF)
Vehicle nationality plates
National holidays
20 August - St Stephen's Day
Embassy details
British Embassy
1051 Budapest
Harmincad u.6
Telephone (00 36) (1) 266288
National flag
3 equal horizontal bands of red, white and green

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