The Great Wall at Nankou, China, 1920. Catalogue reference: CO 1069/428

26 September 2012

The National Archives has put hundreds of early photographs of Asia online as part of our Asia through a lens project.

The images from the Colonial Office's Photographic Collection date back to the middle of the 19th century and include pictures of buildings, people and places.

The photographs are a vivid reminder of the dramatic changes which have turned Hong Kong from an island of several thousand people to a modern metropolis and home to more than 7 million people. On this day in 1984, China and Britain finalised an agreement to hand control of Hong Kong to China, ending more than 150 years of UK rule.

In addition to the images of Hong Kong and China, the collection includes black and white photographs of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Sri Lanka among others.

The photographs have been uploaded to the photo-sharing website Flickr so that you can tag and contribute comments and suggestions to help improve the descriptions.

Earlier this year, photographs of the Americas released on Flickr attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors in the first few days. In 2011, The National Archives' Africa through a lens project resulted in more than a thousand additional user-generated descriptions.

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