Hong Kong Island is an island in the southern part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It has a population of 1,289,500 and its population density is 16,390/km², as of 2008. The island had a population of 3,000 inhabitants scattered in a dozen fishing villages when it was occupied by the United Kingdom in the First Opium War in 1842, and the City of Victoria was then established on the island by the British Force in honour of Queen Victoria. The Central area on the island is the historical, political and economic centre of Hong Kong. The northern coast of the island forms the southern shore of the Victoria Harbour, which is largely responsible for the development of Hong Kong due to its deep waters favoured by large trade ships.
The island is home to many of the most famous sights in Hong Kong, such as "The Peak", Ocean Park, many historical sites and various large shopping centres. The mountain ranges across the island are also famous for hiking. The northern part of Hong Kong Island together with Kowloon forms the core urban area of Hong Kong. Their combined area is approximately 88.3 km2 (34.5 sq. mi.) and their combined population (that of the northern part of the island and of Kowloon) is approximately 3,156,500, reflecting a population density of 35,700/km² (91,500/sq. mi.).
The island is often referred to locally as "Hong Kong side" or "Island side". This style was formerly applied to many locations (e.g. 'China-side' or even 'Kowloon Walled City-side') but is now only heard in this form and 'Kowloon side', suggesting the two sides of the harbour. (The form was once more common in Britain than now, such as 'Surrey-side' and is still seen in British placenames like 'Cheapside', 'Tyneside', and 'Teesside', not all of which have an obvious watercourse or boundary with actual sides.)