Hong Kong was never an independent country. Until 1997, and the Hong Kong handover, Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom. It was ruled by a governor appointed by parliament in London and answerable to the Queen. In many regards, it was a benign dictatorship.
Post-handover, the colony of Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and for official purposes is a part of China. But, for all intents and purposes, it is allowed to operate as an independent country. Below are just some of the ways Hong Kong behaves like an independent country.
Hong Kong is located in eastern Asia. It borders the South China Sea to the south, west, and east, and shares a land border with mainland China to the north. It consists of 4 main areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories, and the Outlying Islands. Kowloon and the New Territories are on a peninsula, accounting for the bulk of Hong Kong's land. The New Territories link Hong Kong to mainland China. The Outlying Islands are made up of 234 islands in the proximity of Hong Kong, excluding Hong Kong Island where the capital city (Hong Kong) is located; the island is in the southern part of the territory. Lantau Island and Hong Kong Island are the largest islands. The entire territory, including its islands, has an area of 1,092 square kilometers (421 square miles), which makes it 6 times larger than Washington, D.C. The length of its land border and coastline are 30 kilometers (18 miles) and 733 kilometers (455 miles), respectively.
Hong Kong’s Basic Law, as agreed between China and Britain, means Hong Kong will retain its own currency (the Hong Kong dollar), legal system, and parliamentary system for fifty years
Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999. China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be practiced in Macau and that Macau will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs
Macau is one of the most densely populated places in the world, and the entire population is classed as urban. Macau has a relatively older population, with less than one-fourth being younger than age 25.
Nonetheless, tourism and gambling are the most important components of Macau’s overall economy, and the region in effect serves as the playground of nearby Hong Kong and, increasingly, the Chinese mainland. High-speed hydrofoils, as well as some traditional but slower river ferries, carry tourists from Hong Kong and Shenzhen (just north of Hong Kong) to Macau’s numerous gambling casinos, bars, hotels, and other attractions. Internal transport is good, and there are local ferries between the peninsula and the islands. Following the December 1999 transfer of administrative status from Portugal to China, Macau remained a free and open port. An international airport became operational in Macau in 1995.