Lantau

Enlarge picture
Map of Lantau Island, Hong Kong


Lantau Island, also Lantao, based on the old local name of Lantau Peak (Traditional Chinese: 爛頭; lit. Ragged Head), is the largest island in Hong Kong, located at the mouth of the Pearl River. Administratively, it is part of the Islands District, but a small part in the northeast of the island belongs to Tsuen Wan District. It has an area of 146.38 km². Originally the site of sleepy fishing villages, the island has in recent years been transformed with the development of several major infrastructure projects, including Hong Kong's new international airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Lantau Island
Traditional Chinese:大嶼山
Simplified Chinese:大屿山
Literal meaning:"big island mountain"

History

Artifacts unearthed on the island show human activities dated back to the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age. For instance, rock carvings at Shek Pik are thought to date back to the Bronze Age, while a stone circle at Fan Lau is probably from the Neolithic Age. Both sites are located on the southwestern coast of the island.

The island was known as Tai Hai Shan (大奚山) in the distant past. It was often shown in navigation map because of its proximity to major sea route in South China.

In 1276, the Southern Song Dynasty court fled to Guangdong by boat, fleeing Mongol invaders, and leaving the emperor Gong Di behind. Any hope of resistance centred on two young princes, Gong Di's brothers. The older boy, Zhao Shi, aged nine was declared emperor, and, in 1277, the imperial court sought refuge first in Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo) on Lantau Island and later in today's Kowloon City (see Sung Wong Toi). The older brother became ill and died, and was succeeded by the younger, Zhao Bing, aged seven. He died in 1279, and the Song Dynasty ended. These emperors are also believed to have held court in the Tung Chung valley, which takes its name from a local hero who gave up his life for the emperor.

Salt was illegally produced in Lantau island. This was discovered by the Chinese rulers during the 16th century, and the local warlord put many islanders to death as a result.

Like Cheung Chau, Lantau was once the base for pirates and smugglers, and was one of the bases of Cheung Po Tsai in the 19th century.

Lantau Island, together with Tuen Mun were among the first European trading settlements in the Pearl River area, established by Portuguese traders in the 1510s. The Portuguese abandoned these settlements around 1517, following defeat against Chinese troops (see Fernao Pires de Andrade). Later, the island became an important trading post for the British, long before they showed an interest for Hong Kong Island.

Silver was mined at Mui Wo until the 19th century.

Lantau was a major site of resistance against the Japanese during the second world war. The resistance movement made use of the island's wooded areas, and deep valleys in order to organize ambushes and move supplies. The resistance movement gained a reputation for toughness, and they persevered through the war until the defeat of the Japanese invaders in 1945.

A major change affected the island in July 1998, with the start of operations of Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.

In 2000, Lantau Island was also an important base for the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe project and the Asia-Pacific Cable Network which bridges the internet with the rest of the world.

Geographical characteristics

Lantau Island consists of mainly mountainous terrain. With an area of approx. 146 km², it is the largest island in Hong Kong, and is almost twice the size of Hong Kong Island. Lantau Peak (934 m) is the highest point of the island. It is the second highest in Hong Kong, after Tai Mo Shan, and is almost double the height of Victoria Peak. Lantau Island is often referred to as "the lungs of Hong Kong", because of its abundance of indigenous forest and relative scarcity of high-rise residential developments which characterise Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

Population

Lantau Island has a relatively low population density, with 45,000 people living there, compared to 1.4 million on Hong Kong Island. Settlements are scattered all over the island and each has its own distinctive characteristic. The completion of the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in 1998 has irrevocably changed north-western Lantau; the once quiet village of Tung Chung is now a new town, home to over 25,000 people in a number of 30 to 50 storey high-rise housing estates and condominiums located right next to the airport. Over the next few years, the population of the North Lantau New Town, on reclaimed land stretching from Tung Chung to Tai Ho is expected to increase to a target population of over 200,000, across 7.6 km² of land.

Discovery Bay is a privately owned residential development located on the north-eastern coast of Lantau. It has a current population of around 14,300 residents from over 30 different countries - gaining it a reputation as an expatriate enclave. The first phase went on sale in 1982.

Tourist attractions

Enlarge picture
Wisdom Path near the Po Lin Monastery
On Ngong Ping Plateau, where the Tian Tan Buddha (or "Giant Buddha"), an 85-foot-high bronze Buddha statue, various monastery buildings and a vegetarian restaurant can be found. Walkers can ascend from Tung Chung to the monastery in two hours.

Tai O is a fishing town located in the northwest of Lantau Island and more than three centuries old. Tourists visit Tai O for its several hundred stilt houses, though many of those houses were damaged in a fire in July 2000. Tai O retains most of its historical setting such as waterways, stilt houses and fishing boats and it is famous for its fishing village scenery. Traditional Chinese food like salted fish and shrimp paste - locally produced - can be found there.

Tung Chung Fort was built in 1817 to thwart the opium trade and defend the coast from pirates. There are 6 old cannons and the enclosures are made of granite. During World War II, the Japanese army occupied the fort. In 1979, it was listed as one of the historical monuments and was refurbished in 1988. The ruins of the Tung Chung Battery, also a historical monument, are located nearby.

The Trappist Haven Monastery at Tai Shui Hang, home to a number of Roman Catholic monks, sits on the east coast of Lantau Island, approximately halfway between the towns of Mui Wo and Discovery Bay. The Lantau Trappist congregation was established in Beijing in the 19th century.

Hong Kong Disneyland lies on the northeastern part of the island, approximately two kilometres from Discovery Bay and opened on 12 September 2005, on a massive land reclamation project in Penny's Bay. The US$1.8 billion project includes a Disney theme park, two hotels and retail, dining and entertainment facilities stretching over 1.26 km² (310 acres); as well as its own rail network linking from Sunny Bay MTR station in Yam O.

Over 50% of Lantau consists of national parks, including a large number of well-marked trails. The best known of these is the 70 kilometre, 12 section Lantau Trail. The national parks feature campsites and youth hostels. Lantau's best-known and longest beach is Cheung Sha and its most famous hike is to Sunset Peak, the third highest elevation in Hong Kong.

Miscellaneous

Chinese White Dolphins, often called pink dolphins can be seen off the coast of Lantau. A marine park north of the island was designated to protect them.

Shek Pik Reservoir is the fourth largest freshwater reservoir in Hong Kong. Completed in 1963, it covers an area of 1.01 km² and has a capacity of 24.5 x 106 m³.

There are six prisons on Lantau Island: Chi Ma Wan Correctional Institution, Chi Sun Correctional Institution (formerly the Chi Ma Wan Drug Addiction Treatment Centre), Ma Mo Ping Prison, Tong Fuk centre west of Tong Fuk, Sha Tsui Detention Centre and the maximum security Shek Pik Prison, both located near Shek Pik reservoir. Plans were put forward by the government to build an enormous "Super Prison" on the sparsely populated nearby island of Hei Ling Chau, to be connected by a bridge to Mui Wo. However, this plan was indefinitely shelved after organized resistance by local residents.

Transport

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/HKIA) is located on Chek Lap Kok island and started service in July 1998. It is located off the north coast of Lantau, near the new town of Tung Chung and is connected to urban areas by the Lantau Link, which is composed of the Kap Shui Mun Bridge, the Ma Wan Viaduct, and the Tsing Ma Bridge.

The airport also has a metro connection to the rest of Hong Kong via the MTR's airport line - the Airport Express - together with several bus routes. Using the Airport Express, the journey time between Central, Hong Kong's business district, and Chep Lap Kok airport is 23 minutes. In addition, one can reach Tung Chung by train on the Tung Chung line of the MTR and there is also a branch line to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Trains are frequent.
Enlarge picture
MTR route map in the Lantau Island area
Tourists can get to Lantau using ferry services provided by New World First Ferry; a ferry service is available between Mui Wo and Central, transportation time is about 30 or 50 minutes, depending on the vessel. A 24-hour ferry service operated by HKR International Limited connects Pier 3 in Central to Discovery Bay; transportation time is 25 minutes.

There are also several smaller inter-island ferry services linking neighbouring islands and the mainland. These ferries, known locally as kai-tos (pronounced Guy-doe) provide scheduled services. These include Nim Shue Wan (TC:稔樹灣) (adjacent to Discovery Bay, and Peng Chau Island with a stopover at the Trappist Haven Monastery on Lantau, Nim Shue Wan and Mui Wo on Lantau. Other Kai-To and ferry services link Peng Chau, Mui Wo Lantau, Chi Ma Wan Lantau, and Cheung Chau Island, and another links Tuen Mun, Tung Chung, Sha Lo Wan, and Tai O.

One can also travel by walla walla, a traditional water taxi, typically from nearby Cheung Chau Island.

Residents and tourists can travel within Lantau Island either by taxi or bus. The New Lantao Bus provides major bus services within the island, where you can get to Tai O and Po Lin Monastery from Mui Wo pier.

In Hong Kong, there are three types of taxis. Red taxis serve the urban areas, green taxis serve the New Territories while taxis on Lantau Island are blue in colour. All three taxi services can ply for passengers at the Airport and Tung Chung, but only the blue taxis can take passengers to other locations on Lantau Island. There are 50 blue taxis serving the Lantau Island area.

The Ngong Ping Skyrail, a gondola lift, is located on Lantau and is operated by the MTR. Opened in mid-September 2006, this provides a visually stunning 5.7 km 20 minute gondola cableway journey between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping.

See also

External links


Major islands in Hong Kong
Major islands (by size): Lantau | Hong Kong Island | Lamma | Chek Lap Kok | Tsing Yi | Kau Sai Chau | Po Toi (Po Toi, Waglan) | Cheung Chau | Tung Lung Chau | Kat O | Wong Wan Chau | Hei Ling Chau | Tap Mun Chau | Ap Lei Chau | Soko Islands (Tai A Chau, Siu A Chau) | Ping Chau | Peng Chau | Ma Wan | Ninepin Group | The Brothers | Green Island | Kowloon Rock
Former islands: Kellett Island | Stonecutters Island | Hoi Sham Island | Channel Rock | Tsing Chau | Mong Chau | Chau Tsai | Nga Ying Chau | Lam Chau | Rumsey Rock


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March of the Volunteers[1]



Capital None[2]
Largest district (population) Sha Tin District
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Zhu Jiang, (Chinese: 珠江 Pinyin: Zhū Jiāng), or Pearl River, is China's third longest river (2,200 km, after the Yangtze River and the Yellow River), and second largest by volume (after the Yangtze).
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The Islands District (Traditional Chinese: 離島區) is one of the 18 districts of Hong Kong. It is part of the New Territories. It had a population of 86,667 in 2001.
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Tsuen Wan District (Traditional Chinese: 荃灣區) is one of the 18 districts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China.
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Square kilometre (U.S. spelling: square kilometer), symbol km², is a decimal multiple of the SI unit of surface area, the square metre, one of the SI derived units. 1 km² is equal to:
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Hong Kong International Airport (IATA: HKG, ICAO: VHHH) is the main airport in Hong Kong. It is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, due to the fact that it was built on the island of Chek Lap Kok by land reclamation.
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Disney theme park

Hong Kong Disneyland
Location Penny's Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Opening Day September 12, 2005
Resort Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
Theme Magic Kingdom
Website Hong Kong Disneyland Homepage
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Neolithic[1] or "New" Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology that is traditionally the last part of the Stone Age. The Neolithic era follows the terminal Holocene Epipalaeolithic
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The term Bronze Age refers to a period in human cultural development when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) consists of techniques for smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those metals in
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Shek Pik village, (Chinese: 石壁) once located on the south coast of Lantau Island, Hong Kong was relocated to its current location when the Shek Pik Reservoir was built.
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Fan Lau (Chinese: 分流) is peninsula and area in the southwest tip of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. It is also southwest end the territory of Hong Kong. The very end of the tip is Fan Lau Kok (分流角).
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South China can refer to
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1276 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1276
MCCLXXVI
Ab urbe condita 2029
Armenian calendar 725
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The Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; Pinyin: Sòng Cháo; Wade-Giles: Sung Ch'ao) was a ruling dynasty in China between 960–1279 AD; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era, and
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广东省
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Origin of name 广 guǎng - region name
东 dōng- "East"
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Mongols (Mongolian: Монгол Mongol) specifies one or several ethnic groups largely located now in Mongolia, China, and Russia.
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Emperor Duānzōng (Chinese: 端宗, 1268 – May 8, 1278) was the penultimate emperor of Southern Song Dynasty of China who died as a teen and reigned from 1276-1278. He was also known as Lord Establishing-Nation (建國公).
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1277 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1277
MCCLXXVII
Ab urbe condita 2030
Armenian calendar 726
ԹՎ ՉԻԶ
Bah' calendar -567 – -566
Buddhist calendar 1821
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Mui Wo (Traditional Chinese: 梅窩, Pinyin: Meiwo, lit. "plum nest") is a rural town on the south-eastern coast of Lantau Island in Hong Kong.
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Kowloon City (Traditional Chinese: 九龍城) is an area in New Kowloon of Hong Kong. It is part of Kowloon City District. Its name comes from Kowloon Walled City with in the area.
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Sung Wong Toi is an important historic relic in Kowloon, Hong Kong. While its remaining portion is currently located in the Sung Wong Toi Garden in Ma Tau Wai, it was originally a 45 m tall boulder standing on the top of Sacred Hill
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Emperor Bing (Chinese: 宋帝昺) (1271 – March 19, 1279) was the last emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty of China. He was also known as Lord Perpetual-Nation (永國公 yongguo gong).
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