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China > Macao > Macau


UNESCO World Heritage Site : 2005

Macao (China)
Macau Special Administrative Region
The Macau Special Administrative Region, commonly known as Macau or Macao, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong.
   Macau : Virtual tour   33 sections and 4 items
Macau : Building(s) (22)

Ruins of St. Paul's
Ruínas de São Paulo
between 1582 and 1602
The Ruins of St. Paul's refer to the façade of what was originally the Cathedral of St. Paul, a 17th century Portuguese cathedral in Macau dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle.

St. Dominic's Church
Igreja de São Domingos
Largo de São Domingos
St. Dominic's Church (玫瑰堂), situated in the Largo de São Domingos near Leal Senado, is a Catholic church built in 1587 by three Spanish Dominican priests who originally came from Acapulco in Mexico.

St Augustine's Church
Santo Agostinho
First established by Spanish Augustinians in 1591, this church maintains the tradition of organizing one of the most popular processions through the city, the Easter Procession, with thousands of devotees.

The present building stands on the site of several previous cathedrals. The original cathedral was the church of Our Lady of Hope of St. Lazarus, declared the mother church of the Macau diocese which included the religious provinces of China, Japan, Korea and other islands adjacent to China.

St. Lawrence's Church
Rua de S. Lourenço
between 1801 and 1803
Today the most fashionable church in Macau, St. Lawrence's Church was first built of wood in the 1560's, replaced by Taipa in 1618 and reconstructed in stone 1801/1803.

St. Joseph's Seminary and Church
Rua do Seminário
Established in 1728 and built in 1758, the old Seminary, together with St. Paul's College, was the principal base for the missionary work implemented in China, Japan and around the region.

Chapel of Our Lady of Penha
The first chapel was founded in 1622 by the crew and passengers of a ship which had narrowly escaped capture by the Dutch.

Na Tcha Temple
This temple was built in 1888 and dedicated to Na Cha in an attempt to halt the Plague rampaging at the time. In contrast to buildings such as the Ruins of St. Paul's around it, the Na Tcha Temple is only a small structure, built with simple materials, but the use of a mixture of reality and illusion in its design manages successfully to create a sense of delicacy and exquisiteness.

A-Ma Temple
Rua de S. Tiago da Barra

A-Ma Temple already existed before the city of Macao came into being. The name "Macao" is believed to derive from the Chinese "A-Ma-Gau" meaning "Bay of A-Ma", on which A-Ma Temple is located.

Kuan Tai Temple
Sam Kai Vui Kun
Rua Sul do Mercado de São Domingos
XVIIIth century
This temple is located close to the old´Chinese Bazaar area, which nowadays functions as St. Dominic's Market, still keeping the essence of the original function of the area.

Bazaar Temple
Largo do Bazar
The Bazaar Temple, at Largo do Bazar, Macau, was built to worship Marshal Hong Gong, whose wooden statue was found floating by the seaside where the temple now stands.

Leal Senado
Av. Almeida Ribeiro n° 163

The building is regarded as the most outstanding example of Portuguese architecture in the territory.

Sir Robert Ho Tung Library
Biblioteca Sir Robert Ho Tung
XIXth century
Sir Robert Ho Tung Library (何東圖書館) is located in St. Augustine's Square in the Historic Centre of Macau. The library is housed in a mansion that has good historical, cultural and architectural value.

Holy House of Mercy

Established by the first Bishop of Macao in 1569, this institution was modeled after one of the most prominent and oldest charitable organizations in Portugal, and was responsible for founding in Macao the first western-style medical clinic and several other social welfare structures that still function to this day.

Dom Pedro V Theatre
Largo de Santo Agostinho
Dom Pedro V Theatre (伯多祿五世劇院), situated at Largo de Santo Agostinho, is one of the first western-style theatres in China. The theatre is an important landmark in the region and remains a venue for important public events and celebrations today.

Mandarin House

The Macau Mandarin House is the former residence owned by eminent modern Chinese thinker Zheng Guanying and his father Zheng Wenrui.

Moorish Barracks
Built in 1874 on the slope of Barra Hill, this building was constructed to accommodate an Indian regiment from Goa appointed to reinforce Macao's police force. This building is a clear reminder of Macao's close links with Goa and their rank as sister cities in Portuguese history.

Clube Militare
Clube Militare is now a restaurant, behind the casino Lisboa.

Grand Lisboa
between 2007 and 2008
Grand Lisboa (新葡京), owned by Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau and designed by Hong Kong architects Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man, is a 58-floor 258 metres (846 ft) tall skyscraper currently under construction in Macau.

Wynn Macau
between 2004 and 2006
Wynn Macau, owned by Wynn Resorts, is a luxury integrated resort offering gaming combined with a deluxe hotel, restaurants, designer shops, spa, and a choreographed performance lake. It is the first Las Vegas-style integrated resort in Asia.[citation needed] It opened on September 6, 2006.

Macau Tower
between 1998 and 2001
Macau Tower (澳門旅遊塔), also known as Macau Sky Tower, measures 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. An observation deck with panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim.
Macau : Civil engineering structure(s) (1)

Macau-Taipa Bridge
between 1970 and 1974
Macau : Guide (1)

Guide, map and view by satellite (3)

The Macau Peninsula is the northernmost region, connecting to the Chinese mainland. It is the center of most tourist activity and is densely crowded.
Macau : Museum(s) (1)

Maritime Museum
Largo do Pagode da Barra, n° 1

If the history of Macau is really connected to the sea, there is, indeed, no better place for the Maritime Museum, than the Square of the Barra Pagoda, dedicated to the Taoist goddess "A-MA", the protector of the fishermen, and also believed as the place where the Portuguese landed for the first time.
Macau : Streets, avenues (8)

Leal Senado Square

Leal Senado Square is the main public square of the town with the Leal Senado Building (1784), a two-storied neoclassical structure. It has a simple front elevation topped with a triangular pediment and granite Doric columns.

Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
San Man Lo
Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (亞美打利庇盧大馬路/亞美打卑盧大馬路) also commonly known as San Man Lo (新馬路) is the main avenue in the heart of Macau Peninsula.

St. Augustine's Square
Largo de Santo Agostinho

St. Augustine's Square was established by Spanish Augustinian priests in 1591, and still maintains the tradition of the Easter Procession. Here are St. Augustine's church and St. Laurence's church.

Lilau Square

Lilau Square is one of the first residential quarters of the Portuguese in Macao. The Mandarin's House (1881), a traditional Chinese residence belonging to a prominent Chinese literary figure, covers an area of 4,000m2.

Cathedral Square

Built around 1622, the Cathedral was originally constructed with taipa (compound material consisting soil and straw).
Macau : Visit Guide   
Getting there & away

For many passports including those of most Western countries, a Macau visa in advance is not needed. Depending on your nationality, a 30 or 90 day entry permit is usually issued for free on entry. See the Macau Tourism Office web-site for the details. For those requiring a visa, they have to be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate, and applied for separately from the mainland Chinese one.

Please note that Macau has a separate immigration regime from mainland China and anyone going to Macau from the mainland would be deemed as leaving China. If you want to re-enter China from Macau, you'll have to apply for another Chinese visa unless your earlier one is a multiple entry visa.

By boat
This is still the main way in which most visitors get to Macau. The main ferry terminal in Macau is the Macau Ferry Terminal (Terminal Maritimo) at the Outer Harbour (Porto Exterior). This is a busy terminal handling most of the sea traffic between Macau and Hong Kong as well as the Chinese ports of Shekou and Shenzhen International Airport. Getting there/away : Buses 1A, 3, 3A, 10, 10A, 10B, 12, 28A, 28B, 28BX, 32 and AP1 run from the ferry terminal. The bus stop is on the main road to the right as you walk out of the building. Pick up a free bus schedule in the tourist information centre in the building. If you are heading straight to a casino or hotel, most of these establishments provide free shuttle buses. They gather to the left of the terminal building; step out of the arrival-level of the building and turn left.

There is a lesser known ferry terminal in Macau, located at Pier n° 14 at the Inner Harbour just south of where Av Almeida Ribeiro intersects with Rua das Lorchas. It is very near to Macau city centre and can be easily walked. This terminal mostly services boats to Shenzhen and Wanzai across the Inner Harbour in Zhuhai, China.

From Hong Kong
Ferries to Macau operate from several points in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong International Airport where you can bypass Hong Kong Immigration and transfer directly into a ferry to Macau.
- Macau-Hong Kong Island: Ferries from Hong Kong's Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island operate 24 hours a day at frequencies of every 15-30 minutes by day and every hour at night. In Macau, they dock at the Macau Maritime Ferry Terminal. The cheapest one-way ticket from Hong Kong is HK$142 (HK$20 extra per bag for luggage) and the trip takes one hour. You can buy tickets online in advance to ensure you secure the sailing you want at busy times. Weekend fares are more expensive. Ferries are operated by TurboJet (Tel: +853-7907039 in Macau, +852-28593333 in Hong Kong). Another ferry service is run by Cotai Jet, directly to Taipa from Hong Kong, and there are free shuttle buses to The Venetian from the Ferry Terminal, for quick and easy access to Taipa & Coloane.

- Macau-Kowloon: You can also get ferries from the China (HK) Ferry Terminal on Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Ferries are less frequent compared with from Hong Kong Island. Fares start at HK$133 and the trip takes about 90 minutes. The ferry operator is New World First Ferries (Tel: +852-21318181).

- Macau-Hong Kong International Airport: There are also ferries from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau. These are less frequent but they allow you to bypass Hong Kong immigration and customs by transferring directly to the ferry in the airport's transfers hall. If purchasing a ticket online in advance, your airline may be able to check your luggage all the way to Macau for you. You board the ferry at the airport SkyPier. Fares start at HK$180 and services are operated by TurboJet Sea Express.

The price of the ferry tickets differ based on the time and day of the week of the ride. Ferry departures after 6pm and before 6am and on weekends are more expensive.

From mainland China
Several ferry companies run to Macau from Chinese mainland ports including, Shekou (in Shenzhen) and Fu Yong Ferry Terminal (next to Shenzhen Airport).

- Macau-Fu Yong (Shenzhen Airport): TurboJet (Tel: +853-7907039 in Macau, +86-755-27776818 in Shenzhen) runs several ferries daily between the Macau Ferry Terminal (Outer Harbour) and the Fu Yong Ferry Terminal. Journey time about one hour. Fares start at MOP$171. There are shuttle buses connecting the Fu Yong Ferry Terminal with Shenzhen Airport.

- Macau-Shekou (Shenzhen): Yuet Tung Shipping Co (Tel: +853-28574478) runs a ferry service departing from the Macau Inner Harbour Terminal at Pier 14 on Rua das Lorchas (near intersection with Av Almeida Ribeiro) at 10:00, 14:00, 17:30 and 20:15. Tickets cost MOP$129 for adults and MOP$78 for children. From Shekou, boats leave at 08:15, 11:45, 15:45 and 18:30. Journey takes about one hour and twenty minutes.

- Macau-Wanzai (Zhuhai): Yuet Tung Shipping Co runs boats between the Macau Inner Harbour Terminal at Pier 14 on Rua das Lorchas, and the Wanzai Customs Port in Wanzai, Zhuhai. Journey time is about 30 minutes and the fare is MOP$12.50. Boats start a 08:00 and end at about 16:00. You can catch connecting buses to Gongbei and other places in Zhuhai from Wanzai.

A more frequent and cheaper option is to catch a ferry to/from Zhuhai's Jiuzhou Port, which is only a few kilometers from the Macau-Zhuhai border. Take a short taxi ride (10 RMB) or a No. 4 bus from the border crossing to the ferry terminal. The bus ride should be included in your ferry ticket. Ferries from Shenzhen Shekou port to Zhuhai run every 30 minutes and cost 80 RMB.

By plane
Macau International Airport (MFM) is off the shore of Taipa Island. It is has basic facilities, and a couple of aerobridges, but it is possible that you will park on the tarmac, and have a bus to the terminal.

Because of its low fees, it has been able to attract several low-cost airlines to serve Macau. Currently available are :
- AirAsia : has multiple flights daily from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu, as well as three weekly flights from Kuching.
- Malaysia airlines : daily flight
- Bangkok Airways : has flights from Bangkok.
- Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air : have daily flights from Manila.
- Tiger Airways : has daily flights from Singapore and Manila (Clark).
- Jetstar Asia : has daily flights from Singapore.
- Viva Macau : has flights from Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo, Busan and Sydney

Other airlines such as Air Macau and Shanghai Air also have flights to Macau.

To reach Taiwan from mainland China, it is usual to fly via either Macau or Hong Kong, since the only direct flights are on weekends.

To and from the airport. Bus AP1 plies a route between the airport and the Barrier Gate. Its route passes through several points on Taipa Island, and it stops at the ferry terminal on the peninsula on the way. It costs MOP3.30 per passenger, and MOP3.00 per bag. It has limited provision for baggage, and can be very crowded (you may not even get the first bus to arrive). Change at the ferry terminal for other destinations, the frequent number 3 bus runs from the ferry terminal and passes the Lisboa, Landmark Hotel, and Holiday Inn, or catch one of the hotel/casino shuttles which go the ferry terminal. The buses do not give change, but there is a currency exchange just inside the terminal that will change foreign currency into low denomination MOP.

If you are bound for Zhuhai, there is a special bus you can take from Macau airport direct to the border, without going through Macau Customs or Immigration. See the Zhuhai article for details.

For flights from mainland China, it is usually cheaper to fly to Zhuhai and cross the border by land as flights between Macau and the mainland are considered to be international flights.

By helicopter
A helicopter service is available from the Terminal Maritimo to the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Hong Kong as well as Shenzhen airport . It is a lot faster than the ferry but it also costs a lot more.

By car
There are two vehicular entry points into Macau from China. They are the Portas do Cerco (關閘 Guan Chap in Cantonese, Guanzha in Mandarin) at the extreme north of Macau Peninsula which connects you to Gongbei in Zhuhai, and the Lotus Bridge (officially the Cotai Frontier Checkpoint) which links the Cotai Strip with the Wanzai district of Zhuhai.

You can only enter if your vehicle (cars only, no motorcycles) has both Macau and mainland China number plates and the driver carries both Macau and China driver's licenses. Note that you have to switch sides of the road; mainland China drives on the right, Macau on the left.

- Portas do Cerco : This is the usual entry point into Macau from Zhuhai and is very busy. It is open from 07 :00 to 24 :00. The crossing will bring you directly into Gongbei in Zhuhai. Getting there/away : The best way to approach the crossing from anywhere in Macau is to use Avenida Norte de Hipodromo which continues as Avenida da Ponte da Amizade, or Avenida Comendador Ho Yin from the western part of the peninsula. Please see Zhuhai section on details to get to the Chinese side of the border.

- Lotus Bridge : Much quieter than the Portas do Cerco, this crossing involves you driving over the Lotus Bridge over the narrow channel between Cotai and Hengqin Island in China. The crossing is open from 09 :00 to 20 :00. Getting there/away : The Cotai frontier checkpoint can be accessed via the Taipa-Coloane Istmus Road (still known as the Taipa-Coloane Causeway) and turn off at the Flor de Lotus roundabout about halfway between Taipa and Coloane.

By bus
You can take the coach from Guangzhou. The trip takes you about 2 hours and costs around RMB70.

There is a direct coach from Shenzhen airport and also Shenzhen long distance bus station. The journey time form Shenzhen is about 3 hours.

There is also a direct coach from DongGuan city (in GuangDong province) to Macau Airport. The trip is around RMB100 and 3 hours.

You can also get a bus from either place to Gongbei bus station in Zhuhai. That puts you right across the street from the border facilities so you can walk to Macau (see next section). This can save you a bit of money; the bus is about the same price either way, but food and hotels are cheaper in Zhuhai.

On foot
You can cross from mainland China to Macau on foot at the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) crossings at the extreme north of Macau Peninsula. In fact, thousands of Macau and Chinese citizens do it daily, making it an horrendously busy crossing. Depending on the time and day of the week, expect long waits to get processed. The crossing on the Chinese side is called Gongbei in Zhuhai. Getting there/away : The massive underground Portas do Cerco bus terminal is beneath the pretty garden in front of the border checkpoint plaza. You'll be able to find buses to most parts of Macau, including Taipa, Coloane and the Cotai Strip from here. From downtown Macau by taxi, the border is about 10 minutes and MOP$30. See Zhuhai page for details to get to Gongbei crossing.

As most people crossing the Barrier Gate are China or Macau residents, you may get a short queue at the China customs if you hold passport of another country as there are separate custom counters for non-China and Macau residents. However, the Macau customs only divide their custom counters into Macau residents and all vistors, thus the queue is usually alot longer for passport holders of other countries as they will be queuing with large numbers of China residents.

There are money changers at the Barrier Gate that give very good rates so you can change your money into RMB before crossing the customs.

You are not allowed to walk on the Lotus Bridge between Wanzai in Zhuhai and Cotai. However, there are buses which shuttle between the two checkpoints.

Visit the Historic Centre of Macao
A-Ma Temple is located on the south-western tip of the Macao Peninsula overlooking Barra Square and the seashore. Around the corner of A-Ma Temple is the Moorish Barracks situated on Barra Street. Further up the road, the narrow street suddenly opens onto Lilau Square, the first residential district of the Portuguese settlers in history where the Mandarin's House is just tucked behind the pastel façades across the street. Further up the road, Barra Street connects into Padre António Street and Lourenço Street where St. Lawrence's Church stands. Behind the church, Prata Street leads to the junction of São José Street where the grand entrance to St. Joseph's Seminary and Church is located. Walking alongside the granite wall on Prata Street and the adjoining Seminário Street, one arrives at the junction of Gamboa Lane. Climbing up the hill from there, the path leads to St. Augustine's Square enclosed by a cluster of monuments - St. Augustine's Church, Sir Robert Ho Tung Library and Dom Pedro V Theatre. Moving down Tronco Velho Lane to Almeida Ribeiro Avenue, the narrow streetscape opens onto the main city square - Senado Square. Situated at one end, the "Leal Senado" Building has a commanding view overlooking the entire square, flanked on both sides by South European-style buildings with the glimmering white façade of the Holy House of Mercy standing in its midst. Tucked behind the commercial shop fronts to the left of the Leal Senado Building is the Sam Kai Vui Kun Temple. Climbing up the slope alongside the Holy House of Mercy, one eventually lands at Cathedral Square on the hilltop where the Cathedral is located. Turning back down to St. Dominic's Square, one passes a typical Chinese courtyard house compound - the Lou Kau Mansion. St. Dominic's Church is located at the junction of Senado Square and Dominic's Square. Ascending from the base of Mount Hill from this urban piazza along Palha Street, the bluestone cobbled road leads to the grand façade of the Ruins of St. Paul's, with Mount Fortress to the side of it. Behind the majestic church front, is the miniature Na Tcha Temple and Section of the Old City Walls. Further down the hill, the linear route ends at St. Anthony's Church, the Casa Garden and the Protestant Cemetery. Standing on the highest hill of Macao Guia Hill, Guia Fortress, Chapel and Lighthouse are visible along the skyline of the peninsula.
Macau : Description   
Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south. The territory has thriving industries such as textiles, electronics and toys, and a notable tourist industry that boasts a wide range of hotels, resorts, stadiums, restaurants and casinos. This makes it one of the richest cities in the world.

Macau was both the first and the last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on December 20, 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer. Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, immigration policy, and delegates to international organisations and events.

Before the Portuguese settlement in the early 16th century, Macau was known as Haojing (Oyster Mirror) or Jinghai (Mirror Sea). The name Macau is thought to be derived from the Templo de A-Má, a temple built in 1448 dedicated to Matsu — the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. It is said that when the Portuguese sailors landed at the coast just outside the temple and asked the name of the place, the natives replied "A-Ma-Gao" (Bay of A-Ma). The Portuguese then named the peninsula Macau.

Government and politics
The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, Macau's constitution promulgated by China's National People's Congress in 1993, specify that Macau's social and economic system, lifestyle, rights, and freedoms are to remain unchanged for at least 50 years after the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1999. Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy in all areas except in defence and foreign affairs. Macau officials, rather than PRC officials, run Macau through the exercise of separate executive, legislative, and judicial powers, as well as the right to final adjudication. Macau maintains its own separate currency, customs territory, immigration and border controls, and police force.

The Macau government is headed by the chief executive, who is appointed by the central government upon the recommendation of an election committee, whose three hundred members are nominated by corporate and community bodies. The recommendation is made by an election within the committee. The chief executive's cabinet comprise five policy secretaries and is advised by the Executive Council that has between seven and eleven members. Edmund Ho Hau Wah, a community leader and former banker, is the first chief executive of the Macau SAR, replacing General Vasco Rocha Vieira at midnight on December 20, 1999. Ho is currently serving his second term of office.

The legislative organ of the territory is the Legislative Assembly, a 29-member body comprising 12 directly elected members, ten indirectly elected members representing functional constituencies and seven members appointed by the chief executive. Any permanent residents at or over 18 years of age are eligible to vote in direct elections. For indirect election, it is only limited to organisations registered as "corporate voters" and a 300-member election committee drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organisations, and central governmental bodies. The basic and original framework of the legal system of Macau, based largely on Portuguese law or Portuguese civil law system, is preserved after 1999. The territory has its own independent judicial system, with a high court. Judges are selected by a committee and appointed by the chief executive. Foreign judges may serve on the courts. Macau has a three-tier court system: the Court of the First Instance, the Court of the Second Instance and the Court of Final Appeal. In Oct 2008, a draft of the Macau security law‎ was unveiled, similarly based on the HK Article 23.

Macau is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometres (90 mi) from Guangzhou. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane. The peninsula is formed by the Zhujiang (Pearl River) estuary on the east and the Xijiang (West River) on the west. It borders the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone in mainland China. The main border crossing between Macau and China is known as the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) on the Macau side, and the Gongbei checkpoint on the Zhuhai side. Macau Peninsula was originally an island, but a connecting sandbar gradually turned into a narrow isthmus, thus changing Macau into a peninsula. Land reclamation in the 17th century transformed Macau into a peninsula with generally flat terrain, though numerous steep hills still mark the original land mass. Alto de Coloane is the highest point in Macau, with an altitude of 170.6 metres (559.7 ft). With a dense urban environment, Macau has no arable land, pastures, forest, or woodland.

Macau has a humid subtropical climate, with average humidity between 75% and 90%. Seasonal climate is greatly influenced by the monsoons and therefore temperature difference between summer and winter is significant. The average annual temperature of Macau is 22.3 °C (72.1 °F). July is the warmest month, with average temperature being 28.6 °C (83.5 °F). The coolest month is January, with average temperature 14.5 °C (58.1 °F). Located in the coastal region of south of China, Macau has ample rainfall, with average annual precipitation being 2,030 millimetres (79.9 in). However, winter is mostly dry due to the monsoon from mainland China. Autumn in Macau (October to December) is sunny and warm with low humidity. Winter (January to March) is relatively cold but sunny. In spring (April to June), the humidity starts to increase and in summer (July to September) the climate is warm to hot and humid with rain and occasional typhoons.

Macau's economy is based largely on tourism, much of it geared toward gambling. Other chief economic activities in Macau are export-geared textile and garment manufacturing, banking and other financial services. The clothing industry has provided about three quarters of export earnings, and the gaming, tourism and hospitality industry is estimated to contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP, and 70% of Macau government revenue.

Macau is a founding member of the WTO and has maintained sound economic and trade relations with more than 120 countries and regions, with European Union and Portuguese-speaking countries in particular; Macau is also a member of the IMF. World Bank classifies Macau as a high income economy and the GDP per capita of the region in 2006 was US$28,436. After the Handover in 1999, there has been a rapid rise in the number of mainland visitors due to China's easing of travel restrictions. Together with the liberalization of Macau's gaming industry in 2001 that induces significant investment inflows, the average growth rate of the economy between 2001 and 2006 was approximately 13.1% annually.

In a World Tourism Organization report of international tourism statistics for 2006, Macau ranked 21st in terms of tourist arrivals and 24th in terms of tourism receipts. From 9.1 million visitors in 2000, arrivals to Macau has grown to 18.7 million visitors in 2005 and 22 million visitors in 2006, with over 50% of the arrivals coming from mainland China and another 30% from Hong Kong. Macau is expected to receive between 24 and 25 million visitors in 2007. Since the Handover, Triad underworld violence, a deterring factor for tourists, has virtually disappeared, to the benefit of the tourism sector.

Starting in 1962, the gambling industry had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly ended in 2002, and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. With the opening of the Sands Macau, the largest casino in the world as measured by total number of table games, in 2004 and Wynn Macau in 2006, gambling revenues from Macau's casinos were for the first time greater than those of Las Vegas Strip (each about $6 billion), making Macau the highest-volume gambling centre in the world. In 2007, Venetian Macau, at the time the second (now third) largest building in the world, opened its doors to the public, followed by MGM Grand Macau. Numerous other hotel casinos, including Galaxy Cotai Megaresort and Ponte 16, are also to be opened in the near future.

In 2002, the Macau government ended the monopoly system and six casino operating concessions and subconcessions are granted to Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Galaxy Entertainment Group, the partnership of MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho (daughter of Stanley Ho), and the partnership of Melco and PBL. Today, there are 16 casinos operated by the STDM, and they are still crucial in the casino industry in Macau, but in 2004, the opening of the Sands Macau ushered in the new era.

Macau is an offshore financial centre, a tax haven, and a free port with no foreign exchange control regimes. The offshore finance business is regulated and supervised by the Monetary Authority of Macau, while the regulation and supervision of the offshore non-finance business is mainly controlled by the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. In 2007, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Macau's foreign and local currency government issuer ratings to 'Aa3' from 'A1', citing its government's solid finances as a large net creditor. The rating agency also upgraded Macau's foreign currency bank deposit ceiling to 'Aa3' from 'A1'.

As prescribed by the Macau Basic Law, the government follows the principle of keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues in drawing up its budget, and strive to achieve a fiscal balance, avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product. All the financial revenues of the Macau Special Administrative Region shall be managed and controlled by the Region itself and shall not be handed over to the Central People's Government. The Central People's Government shall not levy any taxes in the Macau Special Administrative Region.

Macau is the most densely populated region in the world, with a population density of 18,428 persons per square kilometre (47,728/sq mi). 95% of Macau's population is Chinese; another 2% is of mixed Chinese/Portuguese descent, an ethnic group often referred to as Macanese. According to the 2006 by-census, 47% of the residents were born in mainland China, of whom 74.1% born in Guangdong and 15.2% in Fujian. Meanwhile, 42.5% of the residents were born in Macau, and those born in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Portugal shared 3.7%, 2.0% and 0.3% respectively.

The growth of population in Macau mainly relies on immigrants from mainland China and the influx of overseas workers since its birth rate is one of the lowest in the world. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Macau is the top country/region for life expectancy at birth with an average of 84.33 years, while its infant mortality rate ranks among the lowest in the world.

Both Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese are Macau's official languages. Standard Macanese Portuguese is identical to European Portuguese. Other languages such as Mandarin, English and Hokkien are also spoken by some local communities. The Macanese language, a distinctive creole generally known as Patuá, is still spoken by several dozen Macanese.

Most Chinese in Macau are profoundly influenced by their own tradition and culture, of which Chinese folk religion, that includes the faiths of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, forms an integral part. Macau has a sizable Christian community; Roman Catholics and Protestants constitute 7% and 2% of the population respectively. In addition, 17% of the population follows distilled original Mahayana Buddhism.

Having an economy driven by tourism, 14.6% of Macau's workforce is employed in restaurants and hotels, and 10.3% in the gambling industry. With the opening of several casino resorts and other major constructions underway, it is reported that many sectors experience a shortage of labour. The government responds by importing labour from other neighboring regions.

Currently the number of imported labours stands at a record high of 98,505 (Q2 2008), representing more than a quarter of the labour force in Macau. Some local workers complain about the lack of jobs due to the influx of cheap imported labour. Some also claim that the problem of illegal labour is severe. Another concern is the widening of income inequality in the region: Macau's Gini coefficient, a popular measure of income inequality where a low value indicates a more equal income distribution, rises from 0.43 in 1998 to 0.48 in 2006. It is higher than those of other neighbouring regions, such as mainland China (0.447), South Korea (0.316) and Singapore (0.425).

A fifteen-year free education is currently being offered to residents, that includes a three-year kindergarten, followed by a six-year primary education and a six-year secondary education. The literacy rate of the territory is only 93.5%. The illiterates are mainly among the senior residents aged 65 or above; the younger generation, for example the population aged 15-29, has a literacy rate of above 99%. Currently, there is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction.

Macau does not have its own universal education system; non-tertiary schools follow either the British, the Chinese, or the Portuguese education system. There are currently 10 tertiary educational institutions in the region, four of them being public. In 2006, the Programme for International Student Assessment, a world-wide test of 15-year-old schoolchildren's scholastic performance coordinated by OECD, ranked Macau as the fifth and sixth in science and problem solving respectively. Nevertheless, education levels in Macau are low among high income regions. According to the 2006 by-census, among the resident population aged 14 and above, only 51.8% has a secondary education and 12.6% has a tertiary education.

As prescribed by the Basic Law of Macau Chapter VI Article 121, the Government of Macau shall, on its own, formulate policies on education, including policies regarding the educational system and its administration, the language of instruction, the allocation of funds, the examination system, the recognition of educational qualifications and the system of academic awards so as to promote educational development. The government shall also in accordance with law, gradually institute a compulsory education system. Community organisations and individuals may, in accordance with law, run educational undertakings of various kinds.

Macau is served by one major public hospital, the Hospital Conde S. Januário, and one major private hospital, the Hospital Kiang Wu, both located in Macau Peninsula, as well as a university hospital called Macau University of Science and Technology Hospital in Cotai. In addition to hospitals, Macau also has numerous health centres providing free basic medical care to residents. Consultation in traditional Chinese medicine is also available. Currently none of the Macau hospitals is independently assessed through international healthcare accreditation. There are no western-style medical schools in Macau and thus all aspiring physicians in Macau have to obtain their education and qualification elsewhere. Local nurses are trained at the Macau Polytechnic Institute and the Kiang Wu Nursing College. Currently there are no training courses in midwifery in Macau.

The Health Bureau in Macau is mainly responsible for coordinating the activities between the public and private organisations in the area of public health, and assure the health of citizens through specialised and primary health care services, as well as disease prevention and health promotion. The Macau Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was established in 2001, which monitors the operation of hospitals, health centres, and the blood transfusion centre in Macau. It also handles the organisation of care and prevention of diseases affecting the population, sets guidelines for hospitals and private health care providers, and issues licences.

The mixing of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures and religious traditions for more than four centuries has left Macau with an inimitable collection of holidays, festivals and events. The biggest event of the year is the Macau Grand Prix in November, when the main streets in Macau Peninsula are converted to a racetrack bearing similarities with the Monaco Grand Prix. Other annual events include Macau Arts festival in March, the International Fireworks Display Contest in September, the International Music festival in October and/or November, and the Macau International Marathon in December.

The Lunar Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival and celebration normally takes place in late January or early February. The Pou Tai Un Temple in Taipa is the place for the Feast of Tou Tei, the Earth god, in February. The Procession of the Passion of Our Lord is a well-known Catholic rite and journey, which travels from Igreja de Santo Agostinho to Igreja da Sé Catedral‎, also taking place in February. A-Ma Temple, which honours the Goddess Matsu, is in full swing in April with many congratulant worshippers during the A-Ma festival. To look on dancing dragons at the Feast of the Drunken Dragon and twinkling-clean Buddhas at the Feast of Bathing of Lord Buddha in May is common. In Coloane Village, the Taoist god Tam Kong is also honoured on the same day. Dragon Boat festival is brought into play on Nam Van Lake in June and Hungry Ghosts' festival, in late August and/or early September every year. All events and festivities of the year end with Winter Solstice in December.

Local cooking in Macau consists of a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Its ingredients and seasonings include those from Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, as well as local Chinese ingredients. Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices and flavours including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau, giving special aromas and tastes.0 Famous dishes include Galinha à Portuguesa, Galinha à Africana (African chicken), Bacalhau, Macanese Chili Shrimps and stir-fry curry crab. Pork chop bun, ginger milk and Portuguese-style egg tart are also very popular in Macau.

Macau preserves many historical properties in the urban area. The Historic Centre of Macau, which includes some twenty-five historic monuments and public squares, was officially listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 15, 2005 during the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Durban, South Africa.

From Wikipedia
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Macau : History   
The recorded history of Macau can be traced back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), when the region now called Macau came under the jurisdiction of Panyu county, in the Nanhai prefecture of the province of Guangdong. The first recorded inhabitants of the area were people seeking refuge in Macau from invading Mongols during the Southern Song Dynasty. Under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), fishermen migrated to Macau from Guangdong and Fujian provinces. But Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbours and to carry out trading activities, though not the right to stay onshore. Around 1552-1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; they soon built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an annual rent of 500 taels of silver.

As more Portuguese settled in Macau to engage in trading, they made demands for self-administration; but this was not achieved until the 1840s. In 1576, Pope Gregory XIII established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau. In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority, but there was no transfer of sovereignty. Macau prospered as a port but was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century. Following the Opium War (1839-42), Portugal occupied Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. In 1887, the Qing government was forced to sign the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce, under which China ceded to Portugal the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau", and Portugal pledged to seek China's approval before transferring Macau to another country; Macau officially became a Portuguese colony.

In 1928, after the Qing Dynasty had been overthrown following the Xinhai Revolution, the Kuomintang (KMT) government officially notified Portugal that it was abrogating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce; the two powers signed a new Sino-Portuguese Friendship and Trade Treaty in place of the abrogated treaty. Making only a few provisions concerning tariff principles and matters relating to business affairs, the new treaty did not alter the sovereignty of Macau and Portuguese government of Macau remained unchanged. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Beijing government declared the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce to be invalid as an "unequal treaty" imposed by foreigners on China. However, Beijing was not ready to settle the treaty question, leaving the maintenance of "the status quo" until a more appropriate time.

Influenced by the Cultural Revolution in mainland China and by general dissatisfaction with Portuguese government, riots broke out in Macau in 1966. In the most serious, the so-called 12-3 incident, more than 200 people were killed or injured. On January 28, 1967, the Portuguese government issued a formal apology. This marked the beginning of equal treatment and recognition of Chinese identity and of de facto Chinese control of the colony, as an official apology implicitly recognized that administration of Macau continued only as tolerated by the Communist government of the Chinese mainland.

Shortly after the leftist military coup of 1974 in Lisbon, the new Portuguese government determined to relinquish all its overseas possessions. In 1976, Lisbon redefined Macau as a "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration" and granted it a large measure of administrative, financial, and economic autonomy. Three years later, Portugal and China agreed to regard Macau as "a Chinese territory under (temporary) Portuguese administration". The Chinese and Portuguese governments commenced negotiations on the question of Macau in June of 1986. The two signed a Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration the next year, making Macau a special administrative region (SAR) of China. The Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macau on December 20, 1999.
Macau : More pictures