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(məkou`), Port. Macau, Mandarin Aomen, special administrative region of China, formerly administered by Portugal (2005 est. pop. 449,000), 10.8 sq mi (28.2 sq km), adjoining Guangdong prov., SE China, on the estuary of the Pearl River, 40 mi (64 km) W of Hong Kong and 65 mi (105 km) S of Guangzhou (Canton).

Land, People, and Government

The most densely populated place in the world, Macao consists of a rocky, hilly peninsula connected to Zhuhai, China, and an island consisting of the former islands of Taipa and Colôane, now joined to each other by landfill (an area known as Cotai). The island is connected to the peninsula and Zhuhai by bridges. The capital, the city of Macao, is approximately coextensive with the peninsula and contains almost the entire population of the province.

Macao's historic structures include the remaining facade of St. Paul's Basilica (built 1635 by Roman Catholic Japanese artisans; burned 1835), a fascinating example of late Italian Renaissance architecture, with mixed Western and Asian motifs; St. Domingo's church and convent (founded c.1670); the fort and chapel of Guia (1626); the fort of São Paulo de Monte (16th cent.); and statues of da Gama and Luís de Camões, who wrote (1558–59) part of The Lusiads there. Macao is separated from China proper by a barrier gate (built 1849, replacing one erected by the Chinese in 1573) and waterways.

The inhabitants are overwhelmingly Chinese and about half are Buddhist; there is a Roman Catholic minority. Cantonese and other Chinese dialects, as well as Portuguese, are spoken. Macao is ruled under the Basic Law as approved by the National People's Congress of China in 1993.


A free port, Macao is a trade, tourist, and fishing center, but gambling casinos account for most of its GDP. There are also textile, clothing, electronics, footwear, and toys industries. Most of Macao's transit trade with China is by way of its shallow harbor on the west side of the peninsula. Tourism, mainly for gambling, is extremely important to the province, with many coming from nearby Hong Kong and the mainland. Restrictions on foreign investment in casinos were lifted in 2001, and by 2006 Macao had exceeded Las Vegas in total money gambled. There is daily ferry and bus service to Guangzhou and ferry, hydrofoil, and helicopter service to Hong Kong. Taipa is connected to Macao city by bridges. An airport opened in 1995.


The colony's name is derived from the Ma Kwok temple, built there in the 14th cent. Macao was the oldest permanent European settlement in East Asia. It was a parched and desolate spot when the Portuguese established a trading post there in 1557. For nearly 300 years the Portuguese paid China an annual tribute for the use of the peninsula, but in 1849 Portugal proclaimed it a free port; this was confirmed by China in the Protocol of Lisbon in 1887. With the gradual silting up of its harbor and the rise (19th cent.) of Hong Kong, Macao lost its preeminent position and became identified to a large extent with smuggling and gambling interests.

After 1949 the population was swelled by an influx of Chinese refugees from the mainland. In the winter of 1966–67, Communist-organized riots shook the province, resulting in a capitulation by the Portuguese to Chinese demands to bar entry to refugees and prohibit anti-Communist activities. In 1974, Macao was established as a Chinese territory under Portuguese administration; the Chinese refused to accept the return of the territory at the time. A real-estate boom in the early 1990s had largely waned by the end of the decade, but with end of the monopoly in its gambling industry the territory began a new period of real-estate and economic growth. Under the terms of a 1987 agreement, Macao became a special administrative region under Chinese sovereignty in Dec., 1999. Macao has been promised 50 years of noninterference in its economic and social systems.



(Aomen), territory on the southeastern coast of China, including the Aomen Peninsula and the islands of Taipa and Kuoloane in the estuary of the Canton River (South China Sea). Portuguese possession. Area, 16 sq km. Population, 260,000 according to a 1968 estimate; primarily Chinese. The Portuguese population is 8,000. The main city is Aomen (Macao).

The economy of Macao is based primarily on international financial and commercial brokerage operations; it is one of the centers of the capitalist market in gold and opium. Trade—mainly transit—is conducted with the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong (Hsiangkang), the USA, Canada, and other countries. Macao exports fish, rice, silk, tobacco, tea, and decorative handicraft articles. Industry is small (production of matches, foodstuffs, and handmade articles— lanterns, firecrackers, and so on).

The first Portuguese appeared in Macao at the very beginning of the 16th century. In 1557, Portugal leased Macao from China, although the latter retained sovereign rights. However, the Portuguese colonizers violated the agreement, and in 1680 a Portuguese governor was appointed to Macao. In 1849 the Portuguese government declared Macao independent of China. In 1940, Japan established control over the territory. After Japan’s defeat in World War II (1945), Macao came under Portuguese rule again. In 1951 it received the status of an overseas territory of Portugal.




a territory in southern China, on the South China Sea, near the Chu Chiang delta. The Chinese name for it is Aomen.


a special administrative region of S China, across the estuary of the Zhu Jiang from Hong Kong: chief centre of European trade with China in the 18th century; attained partial autonomy in 1976; formerly (until 1999) a Portuguese overseas province under a long-term lease from China, as with Hong Kong (a UK territory until 1997); transit trade with rest of China; tourism and financial services. It retains its own currency, the pataca. Pop.: 448 500 (2003 est.). Area: 16 sq. km (6 sq. miles)
References in periodicals archive ?
The surprisingly positive growth trends that emerged in Macao over the last few years have been disturbed by the current turbulence.
Last year, just hours before Macao was handed back to China from the Portuguese administration at midnight on Dec.
Macao has vast growing power as a travel destination, with the number of visitors expected to double between 2006 and 2011," said Christie Hefner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PEI.
Many members of this generation, who are now Macao residents, were born in Mainland China and lived part or most of their childhood there; after their parents gained Macao residency, most often under the investment scheme, these youth attended schools in nearby Mainland China, and then later came to Macao to work and/or complete university studies.
The fourth section will be devoted to analyzing the difficulties that the Macao government has encountered in order to strengthen the regulation system, followed by a summary section.
In 2005, Macao overtook Las Vegas as the largest gaming centre in the world.
On Friday morning, a grand ceremony was held in the Macao East Asian Games Dome, where the remains had been enshrined for five days.
Lin says RMB-based financial services are needed by Chinese and Taiwanese enterprises in China, so the Macao branch will focus on taking deposits, remittance, currency exchange, and business loans.
The patient, who was not inoculated with the A/H1N1 vaccine, did not travel outside Macao before falling ill and no other such cases were found in his family, Xinhua reported.
The liberalisation of Macao gambling industry in 2002 has set the stage for an expansion of the Macao tourism and hospitality industry and the entry of gambling and hospitality investors from overseas.
Through this visit, I wish to see for myself the new development and change Macao has experienced,'' Hu said at the airport.
Assuming Macao VIP players buy in to baccarat games at the same rate as Nevada baccarat players, then a player loss of $1 million would represent a handle of $75 million and original chip purchases of $8.