Country Facts about Hong Kong
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Religion in Hong Kong
While traditional Chinese religion remains the most important religion in Hong Kong, you can find believers from plenty of other world faiths. Most of these faiths were brought to the country by missionaries in the British Army or by early immigrants who implemented their own religion in Hong Kong.
The diversity of religion in Hong Kong is visible in the city’s culture and architecture. There are about 600 Buddhist and Taoist temples, 800 Christian churches, five mosques, three synagogues, a Hindu temple and a Sikh temple.
A look at the various public holidays also shows the influence of more than one religion: Christmas and Buddha’s birthday are both recognized as public holidays, as is the Chinese New Year.
Religion in Hong Kong: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism
43% of the population is religious, and the majority of these follow Chinese traditional religion in Hong Kong. This is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, accentuated by local practices and beliefs.
Ancestral worship plays an important role in Hong Kong society. Additionally, since Hong Kong depends on water for its survival – originally for fishing, but nowadays for trade – deities connected with the sea are the most popular ones to worship. Hong Kong also has the largest outdoor, seated, Buddha statue in the world. You can admire it at the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island.
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Religion in Hong Kong: Christianity
Both the Roman Catholic Church and a large number of Protestant congregations are active as part of the Christian religion in Hong Kong. Christian churches run a large number of educational institutions, ranging from nurseries to post-secondary institutions. Moreover, they provide 13 hospitals, a large number of clinics, family centers and old-age homes throughout Hong Kong.
Today, there are around 360,000 Catholics and 480,000 Protestants practicing their religion in Hong Kong. Services are usually conducted in either English or Cantonese, though for Catholics, some are held in Tagalog, as immigrants from the Philippines constitute a significant part of the region’s Catholic community.
Religion in Hong Kong: Islam
There is also a quickly growing Muslim community in Hong Kong. About one third of Muslim families are ‘local’, while the remainder is made of recent immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, as well as from countries such as Pakistan, India, and Malaysia.
The Islamic Union of Hong Kong serves as an umbrella organization for the Muslim religion in Hong Kong. The Muslim community runs its own kindergarten as well as other projects to do with medical care and giving financial aid to the needy.
Religion in Hong Kong: Hinduism
Immigrants from India set up the Hindu religion in Hong Kong. Today, the vibrant 40,000 strong Hindu community uses the Hindu Temple in Happy Valley as their central place of worship. The temple does not only serve as a place for the celebration of many Hindu festivals, but also as a community centre, offering spiritual lectures, yoga classes, and community activities.
Religion in Hong Kong: Judaism
The Jewish community was established with the foundation of the British colony, when a number of Jewish merchant families came to Hong Kong. Nowadays, the majority of people who practice the Jewish religion in Hong Kong are expatriates from Europe and countries such as Israel and the US.
The roughly 4,000 members of the Jewish community worship at three main synagogues in Hong Kong, while the Jewish Community Center serves all three congregations. The Carmel School Association provides Jewish education from early childhood to high school.
Religion in Hong Kong: Sikhism
One of the smallest religious groups in Hong Kong is the Sikh community. They originally came to Hong Kong in the 19th century from Punjab in Northern India as part of the British Army.
Today, around 8,000 Sikhs still live and practice in Hong Kong. The group runs a temple in Wan Chai, which offers free short-term accommodation to any visitor from overseas – regardless of their religious affiliations.