Victoria Harbour is a natural landform harbour situated between Hong Kong
Island and the Kowloon
Peninsula in Hong Kong. The harbour's deep, sheltered waters and strategic location on the South China
Sea were instrumental in Hong Kong's establishment as a British colony and its subsequent development as a trading centre.
Throughout its history, the harbour has seen numerous reclamation projects undertaken on both shores, many of which have caused controversy in recent years due to environmental concerns concerning water quality and natural habitats in addition to economic concerns that benefits of land reclamation may be less than the effects of decreased harbour width, affecting the number of vessels passing through the harbour. Nonetheless it still retains its founding role as a port for thousands of international vessels each year.
Long famous for its spectacular views, the harbour is a major tourist attraction of Hong Kong. Lying in the middle of the territory's dense urban region, the harbour is the site of annual fireworks displays and its promenades are popular gathering places for tourists and residents. Some of the first recreational activities to take place in the harbour were water competitions such as swimming and water polo in 1850s within the members of Hong Kong's first sports club, the Victoria Recreation Club.
The Victoria Harbour is World
-famous for its stunning panoramic night view and skyline, particularly in the direction towards Hong Kong Island where the skyline of skyscrapers is superimposed over the ridges behind. Among the best places to view the Harbour is at the Peak Tower on the Victoria Peak
, or from the piazza at the Culture Centre or the promenade of Tsim Sha Tsui
on the Kowloon side. Rides on the Star Ferry
to view the harbour are also widely popular.
As the natural centre of the territory, the harbour has played host to many major public shows, including the annual fireworks displays on the second night of the Lunar New Year. These shows are popular with tourists and locals alike, and the show is usually telecast on local television. To add to the popularity of the harbour as a sightseeing location, the government introduced a show dubbed A Symphony of Lights
Also recently opened, was the Avenue Of Stars
, built along the promenade outside the New World Centre
in Tsim Sha Tsui. Modeled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it honours the most illustrious people the Hong Kong film industry has produced over the past decades.
Victoria Harbour is home to most of the port facilities of Hong Kong, making Hong Kong amongst the world's busiest. An average of 220,000 ships visit the harbour each year, including both ocean going vessels and river vessels, for both goods and passengers.
The Kwai Chung Container Terminals in the western part of the harbour is the main container handling facility, operating round the clock and handling about 62 percent of the 21,930 TEUs handled by the territory in 2004. Some 400 container liners serve Hong Kong weekly, connecting to over 500 destinations around the world.
There is no bridge crossing the harbour, but there are three cross-harbour tunnels: Cross Harbour Tunnel (opened 1972), Eastern Harbour Crossing (1989), and Western Harbour Crossing (1997). They connect Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula
across Victoria Harbour. The three tunnels act as important linkages between the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Three MTR routes also have tunnels under the Harbour. They are namely: