Macau Overview

Chinese Name: English IPA: Location: Population (city): Language: Zip code: Tel code: Time zone:

Macau or Macao, officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With a population of 653,100 and an area of 32.9 square kilometers(12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world. Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Portugal governed the area under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when it was given perpetual occupation rights for Macau. The colony remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was returned to China. As a special administrative region, Macau’s system of government is separate from that of mainland China.

Highlights of Macau

  • Combination of East and West: Much from both cultures remains from that past. Cobblestone streets, cream-colored churches, and balconied buildings reminiscent of Southern Europe, particularly Portugal, blend harmoniously with brightly colored Chinese temples and sedate gardens dotted with koi ponds, pavilions and moon gates. In 2005 more than two dozen sites in Macau’s Historic Centre were collectively added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Two of the most prominent and most important represent the best of both cultures: the Chinese A-Ma Temple and the Portuguese São Paulo Church.
  • Paradise for Food Lovers-Amazing Cuisine: Chinese cuisine in Macau is represented in Cantonese style with regional specialties. Since the Cantonese are the most predominant cultural group in Macau, Cantonese cuisine forms the backbone of home cooking and dine-out scenes. What’s more, Macau has developed its own cuisine, Macanese. When the Portuguese arrived they brought foodstuffs and cooking ideas from their settlements in Africa and India as well as from home. These were combined and adapted by local Chinese to create a truly fusion cuisine. Macanese cuisine is a combination of Portuguese and Cantonese cuisines flavored with spices like turmeric, chilli peppers and cinnamon, coconut milk and piri-piri sauce, giving special aromas and tastes. 
  • Las Vegas in Asian: Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s when the Portuguese government legalized the activity in the autonomous colony. Since then, Macau has become known worldwide as the “Gambling capital of the world” or “Monte Carlo of the East”. Gambling tourism is Macau’s biggest source of revenue, making up about 50% of the economy. Visitors are made up largely of Chinese nationals from mainland China and Hong Kong. With the entry of large foreign casinos from Las Vegas and Australia, Macau overtook the Las Vegas Strip in gambling revenues in 2007. Until Western-style casino games were introduced in the 20th century, only Chinese games were played, the most popular being Fan-Tan. Generally, gambling in Macau can be divided into one of four categories: casino games, greyhound racing, sports betting, and lotteries. 
  • Heaven for Photographers and Shopping Lovers: Due to the multi-cultural influence in Macau, photographers will appreciate the diverse points and subjects for photography. From the ruins, food, and even simple shots of streets and people, it is very easy for photographers to create a unique photo essay. Macau can serve as the perfect training base for travel photographers, or a playground for those who just love taking good pictures because there are so many things that can be captured here. Macau has a lot of shopping destinations for the true shopaholic. Its offerings range from great bargains to the most luxurious brands.

Edited by Cloudy Fu/付云

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