The residents of Hong Kong have often been considered a migratory people. Sparsely populated by fishing and farming communities (and even used as a haven by pirates) for thousands of years, various groups of mainland Chinese, refugees, laborers and expatriates from the world over have come to and departed from this dynamic area… in recent centuries in search of prosperity and a better life. The ebb and flow pattern of Hong Kong's populace has continuously been affected by opportunity, war, politics, disease, protest, and even the harsh Coolie Trade of Chinese laborers (beginning in the mid-1800's).