ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Kowloon Walled City: The Most Densely Populated Place on Earth

Updated on June 19, 2013

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, at its peak, was the most densely populated area on earth. How densely populated? With a population of 33,000 inside the 6.5 acre borders before its destruction in 1987, it would mean a population density of 1,255,000 people per square kilometer. Which when compared to the population density of the whole of Hong Kong, which itself is one of the mostly densely populated places, of around 6,700 people per square kilometer, leads one to realising just incredibly packed the Walled City was.

The history of the Walled City goes as far back as the Song Dynasty, 960-1279, when an outpost was set up to manage salt trading; though after this little happened for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until 1842, when Hong Kong Island was ceded to the British, that the building was upgraded to a defensive fort, with a formidable wall, to defend the area from any further British influence. In 1899 it was attacked by British forces and kept under their control, though again little was done with it. An old people’s home was established inside, as well as a school and almshouse, slowly turning the one defensive fort to a more residential area.

In 1933, however, much of the Walled City was in decay and Hong Kong authorities elected to tear most of it down, moving the 436 squatters inside to other homes. All that remained was the school, the Yamen and one lonely house. Even the wall was demolished during Japan’s occupation of Hong Kong during the Second World War, as the stone was used to extend the nearby airport.

When the war came to an end, Chinese refugees poured into the Walled City, which had been reclaimed by China. 2,000 squatters had moved in by 1947 and attempts to move them out by the British failed. With both the Chinese and British authorities backing off, the Walled City became a largely that was a haven for crime. In 1959 it was almost entirely ruled by the Triads.

Criminal gangs were so rife in the City that police would only venture in in large groups themselves. However during 1973-74 over 3,500 dedicated and rigourous raids were undertaken by the police, which resulted in over 2,500 arrests. The law began taking hold in the Walled City again, helped by the communities who lived there, especially the younger residents.

It is the construction of the Walled City, which had reached its peak at around this time, which makes it especially unique. It kept largely within the confines of the walls that once lined the fort, so the city moved not outwards but upwards, and consisted of buildings all ten stories high or more (though not over fourteen, due to the nearby airport). To navigate between the tall buildings, a maze of paths, stairways and passageways evolved – it was possible to cross the entirely city without touching the ground floor. The alleyways were so tall and narrow that natural light could not reach the lower levels. Space at the top of the city was highly valued, often covered in antennas and washing lines, and it was were people went to socalise, or children to do their homework.

Walking Through the Walled City

Though the place was once beyond the reach of the law, by the 70s and 80s the cramped living conditions meant that the Walled City was a community in and of itself, with people helping each other through hardships. The Yamen, one of the last remaining relics of the City’s history, was the center point for the City, where many went to meet, have tea or even take classes.

Still, there was no denying that the conditions within the city were tolerable, and were not keeping up with those of the rest of Hong Kong. In 1984 plans were made for the City’s demolition and the government spent billions compensating the 33,000 residents that had to be evicted from the area – some of which had to be forcibly removed. Deomlition began in 1993 and was completed the following year.

If one visits the area today, one will come across the Kowloon Walled City Park – a green, peaceful haven where many of the paths and pavilions have been named after streets in the old City. Indeed, relics still remain, such as broken down pieces of the City’s South Gate. And standing at the center of the park is the Yamen, restored and still standing, a steadfast reminder of the history of the area.

Kowloon Walled City

Kowloon walled city:
九龍寨城公園, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

get directions

The place where the densely populated Kowloon Walled City once stood.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)