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Land, People, and Government
The most densely populated place in the world, Macau 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 peninsula is connected to Hong Kong by the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (opened 2018), the main section of which spans the Pearl River estuary with a 14.2 mi (22.9 km) bridge and 4.2 mi (6.7 km) tunnel. The capital, the city of Macau, is approximately coextensive with the peninsula and contains almost the entire population of the province.
Macau'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. Macau 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. Macau is ruled under the Basic Law as approved by the National People's Congress of China in 1993.
The colony's name is derived from the Ma Kwok temple, built there in the 14th cent. Macau 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, Macau 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, Macau 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, Macau became a special administrative region under Chinese sovereignty in Dec., 1999. Macau 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. M. KHAZANOV
a territory in southern China, on the South China Sea, near the Chu Chiang delta. The Chinese name for it is Aomen.