Hong Kong started as a small fishing village, involved in agriculture of paddy, salt production and small time trade, slowly to pearl farming and then to a major pearl hunting harbor, then to a large international trade port.
Hong Kong was incorporated by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC and was ruled by various dynasties of China from that period. In 1950 the Lei Cheng tomb was excavated and many facts were uncovered from the pottery, artifacts and materials found and used.
Salt production increased and pearl popularity led to exploitation, smuggling and revolts. In 1276 AD, Mongols invaded China and the Southern Song dynasty then ruling moved its courts to present day Kowloon. The Child emperor Zhao Bing was however defeated and committed suicide. Tung Chung valley is named after one of the officials who died trying to protect the emperor. Hau Wong, another official is still worshipped today. The Mongol invasion in China led to thousands of refugees moving to Hong Kong and hence a huge population increase. Despite this Hong Kong still had vast tracts of barren land and occupation was still agriculture, pearls and salt. Villages started fortifying themselves to protect themselves.
The British meanwhile in early 1800's started as traders of Chinese tea, and exported luxury items like silver, watches and clocks into Hong Kong. There was imbalance in trade and illegal opium entered through trade circles in China. The complaints to the British empire and heavy opposition to this led to wars and slowly the then Dynasty, The Qing Dynasty had to admit defeat and were the last dynasty before the British were handed over the island over a number of treaties from 1842 and it slowly became the foremost military and trading port under them setting the base for the modern day Hong Kong. Industry and commerce flourished, electricity was introduced, transport links given in the form of ferries, buses, trams and finally airways. Western education introduced and with it modernized and liberalized the mindset. The first bank was set up, being the first step for Hong Kong in its present day huge financial powerhouse. Hospitals were introduced with the outbreak of plague. Population kept increasing rapidly with Chinese and nationalities from all over seeing opportunity and settling here. World War I in 1914 led to vulnerability and final invasion from Japan by World War II. Japan invasion started in December 1941. There was heavy resistance and finally by 25th December 1941 known as the black Christmas, defeat was conceded and Hong Kong handed over to the Japanese. This was a bad period for the next three years, where food was rationed, inflation was high and thousands left the island. Women were unsafe, revolutionaries executed at will in this period. By the end of the war in 1945, however, Communists took back mainland China and there was large scale movement back to the Hong Kong Island.
British were back in control and with cheap labor and large scale foreign investment, economy started booming again. This was the period which saw huge construction and when space was limited this started moving upwards and high rises became the norm. Manufacturing units from small scale to large scale came up in the 1960's. Hong Kong started becoming known for its high quality products. By the 1970's the economy had boomed with tourism and trade also hitting a high. The 1980's saw British attempts at retaining the island and a number of treaties were signed to retain autonomy of Hong Kong including 'One country, two Governments'. This period also saw a major popularity of the arts, music and cinema from this region, including Jackie Chan films. Uncertainty grew and with that a bit of panic movement towards the west. By 1990's the process of transfer had started and ultimate handing over to China took place on July 1st, 1997.