Twenty years,
20 visualisations

How Hong Kong has changed since handover from music to politics, fashion to infrastructure, these graphics explore the evolution of Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Who are you?

In a survey running since 1997, Hong Kong residents were asked by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) if they consider themselves to be a Hongkonger, Chinese, Hongkonger in China or, Chinese in Hong Kong.
The target sample was more than 1,000 Cantonese-speakers aged 18, or over. Here are the results

Source: Public Opinion Programme, The University of Hong Kong
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Can you remember how you dressed 20 years ago?

Hairstyles, ways of dressing, and even body shapes have altered over the last two decades. Use the menu and tabs to compare a selection of looks popular in 1997 with current trends

SCMP graphic by Adolfo Arranz

Hong Kong population* by language spoken

(Ages 5 and over)
The city’s rich blend of cultures is a major part of Hong Kong’s unique character. While the majority of the population is Cantonese speaking, simply walking the streets exposes you to a kaleidoscope of Asian and European languages

*The figures exclude mute persons.

source: Hong Kong Census and statistical department
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde.

How your office desk looked in 1997

Back in the 90's the desk you worked at looked very different from today. Most of the objects now fit in your pocket on your smartphone, but a few remain on the table. Scroll, or swipe right, to be reminded just how cluttered your desk used to be…

source: Forbes,,
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde.

Seriously unaffordable

The lack of affordable housing in Hong Kong is among the most severe in the world. High prices have long been a sore point for the public but strong demand keeps the market rising even with US-set interest rates continuing to rise

SCMP graphic by Dennis Wong

The march of the visitors

In 2016* a whopping 43 million Chinese tourists visited Hong Kong. That’s an increase of 1,700 per cent since 1997. Click on the buttons to see how the trend develops.

*Latest visitor numbers only available to June 2017. As a reference each icon represents 1 million visitors a year

SOURCE: Tourism Commission, Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of Hong Kong.
SCMP graphic by Marco Hernandez.

Voices from the street

Polls are used as barometers for the performance of leaders in power. They may not be completely accurate, but the many surveys conducted over the last two decades give us an idea of how the public rates Hong Kong’s political leadership

Source: The University of Hong Kong
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Local music tastes over two decades

Cantopop, or HK-pop, has proven itself to be a resilient favourite among local music fans. The genre has dominated Hong Kong’s cultural scene and pop charts with male and female singers enjoying equal popularity

Source: IFPI Hong Kong, and RTHK
SCMP graphic by Marco Hernandez.

Technology for leisure in the 90’s

Technology has played a major role in the leisure industry over the last two decades. Here are 10 of the most popular gadgets

SCMP graphic by Marco Hernandez.

One of the world’s safest cities

Hong Kong has had its share of gory, headline-grabbing murders, think Rurik Jutting and Nancy Kissel, but according to the latest UN report on homicides in 2015, Hong Kong has the world’s third lowest murder rate per 100,000 population. Only Macau and Singapore fare better. The number of homicides since 1997 has been declining exponentially

SCMP graphic by Adolfo Arranz.

Less weddings

Marriage has become less popular in Hong Kong with the proportion of people getting hitched after the age of 30 decreasing by 10% or more

SOURCE: Hong Kong Census and statistical department
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Twenty years at the mercy of typhoons

There are four hotspots where most of the region’s typhoons originate. In Asia storms usually travel from the east to northwest, whipping the continental coastline and the Pacific islands standing in their way. This is a 20 year record of storms wreaking havoc in the South China Sea and beyond

SOURCE: NOOA, USGS and Natural Earth Data.
SCMP graphic by Marco Hernandez

Ethnic minorities

Hong Kong’s non-Chinese ethnic minorities form a vibrant and colourful community of new immigrants and those who made the city their home several generations ago

SOURCE: Hong Kong Census and statistical department
SCMP graphic by Dennis Wong


The amount of people not getting married is generally rising but as life expectancy increases the number of single people aged over 65 has doubled in 20 years

SOURCE: Hong Kong Census and statistical department
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

A shark tale

A 2013 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation identified Hong Kong as the world’s major trader of shark, responsible for moving 16,000 tonnes in import-export trade. The Hong Kong Statistics Department believes the amount sold domestically has been falling since 1996.

For reference, a fin in the graphic represents a tonne of dry shark sold in Hong Kong

SOURCE: Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
SCMP graphic by Marco Hernandez

A load of rubbish

Hong Kong has seen the amount of waste it produces mushroom along with the size of its economy and population. The municipal* waste per capita is inconsistent, but always below that recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

*Municipal waste comprises solid waste from domestic, commercial and industrial sources. This excludes construction waste, chemical waste and special waste

SOURCE: Hong Kong Census and statistical department
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Rain, rain, go away

At certain times of the year it rains a LOT in Hong Kong. If the Hong Kong Financial Secretary were saving for a rainy day he would have spent the budget deficit many times over given the amount of rain the city experiences

SOURCE: Hong Kong Observatory
SCMP graphic by Adolfo Arranz

Behind bars

In 1997 the number of prisoners in Hong Kong had grown substantially, surpassing capacity and resulting in overcrowded facilities. By contrast, the number of prisons has increased and the prison population has fallen in the 20 years since then

Sources: Census and Statistics Department. Hong Kong Correctional Services
SCMP graphic by Adolfo Arranz

An upward trend

The number of reported HIV cases in Hong Kong has grown from 738 in 1996 to 8,410 in 2016. Last year 81% of the cases were male, those aged between 30-39 accounted for 27.5% of the total (2,321)

Note: Cases are cumulative and includes all people infected since 1984.

SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Traffic accidents

The number of traffic accidents grew from 14,776 in 1997 to 16,079 in 2016. Given the increasing population this is to be expected but, marking a positive trend, while there were more accidents, less resulted in fatalities, with 243 in 1997 versus 132, last year

SOURCE: Census and Statistical Department, Hong Kong
SCMP graphic by Marcelo Duhalde

Enjoying SCMP graphics?

Here are some other projects by SCMP graphics you might want to visit

Or just visit our graphics home page

Hi, Internet Explorer user!

This site has some features that may not be compatlibe with your browser. Should you wish to view content, switch browsers to either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to get an awesome experience