The area comprised of all the land and adjacent islands between British Kowloon (to the south) and the Shenzhen River (to the north). The lease was made as a result of France's colonisation of Guangzhou Bay.
Not included in the New Territories were the southern part of Kowloon peninsula, and Hong Kong Island.
Attempts at modernising the area were not extensive until the late 1970s, in which many new towns were built to take the overspill from the urban areas in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
As the expiration date of the lease neared in the 1980s, talks between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China led the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984), in which the whole of Hong Kong would be returned, instead of only the New Territories. This is because Hong Kong's new airport, shipping ports, and other vital istallations were (and are) all in the New Territories.
Major developments are happening in the New Territories as of 2003, including the new Disneyland being constructed in Penny Bay, Lantau Island scheduled to open in 2005.
The New Territories comprise the following districts: