Very little is known about the New Territories before 1899. It was with the foundation of the Great City of Hong Kong in 1841 that the villagers found themselves close to an urban centre. From 1899, the New Territories started to become a suburban area, and today, it's part of the great metropolis. The Customary Land Law tells us how the villagers lived, settled disputes, controlled land and its alienation without any formal legal structure. It was conducted orally and based on public opinion of the village. However, by 1950s, the Customary Land Law became part of history, as developers and outside purchasers started to buy up land. These outsiders are not willing to buy without the protection of land deeds under the Hong Kong legal system. As such, the land in the New Territories is valued like a commodity like any other.
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