Macau Facts

What is Macau?
Macau is a former colony of Portugal, located in China. Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East,

as well as the last. Today, Macau has been designated a Special Administrative Region of China, meaning it enjoys near autonomy, except for its foreign affairs and defense, which are taken care of by China. Macau (or Macao) is the name for this region in Portuguese, but it is called Aomen in Chinese.

How did Macau end up a Special Administrative Region of China?
Portuguese traders in the 16th century set up trade in Macau starting around 1535, and had built settlements by 1557. Around 1583 , the Portuguese in Macau were allowed to form a government to handle their affairs under Chinese supervision.

The last dynasty of China, the Qing dynasty, agreed to allow Portugal’s continual rule of Macau in the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity. After the fall of the Qing dynasty, the People’s Republic of China annulled that agreement.

In 1987, the People’s Republic of China signed the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, which made Macau a Special Administrative Region starting December 20, 1999. This arrangement will continue until 50 years after the day it went into effect. China has not announced what will happen after this period. Under this agreement, Macau does not have independence from China, but can maintain its own capitalistic system, rather than having to use the Chinese socialist economic system. Macau remains somewhat autonomous from China, though much of its population is Chinese.

Where is Macau located?
Macau is located in Eastern Asia, on the southern coast of China, bordering the Guangdong province of China and the South China Sea. Macau is situated along the Pearl River Delta, across from Hong Kong.

Macau also includes two islands called Coloane and Taipa, now connected by a landmass known as Cotai. These islands are connected to mainland Macau by three bridges.

How big is Macau?
Macau has an area of 28.2 square kilometers, with about 41 kilometers of coastline.

What is the population of Macau?
Macau’s population is about 573,000. Since all these people live in such a small area, Macau has the highest population density of any place in the world. Macau also boasts the second highest life expectancy in the world.

What ethnic groups are represented in Macau’s population?
Macau’s population is made up of about 95% Chinese, and the rest are mainly Macanese, which are people of mixed Portuguese and Chinese (and sometimes African) ancestry.

What religions are practiced in Macau?
Macau’s combined cultures of Portugal and China are also demonstrated in the religious practices of the region. Buddhism is practiced in about 50% of the population, and Roman Catholicism makes up about 15%.

What languages are spoken in Macau?
Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese are both official languages of Macau.

Other languages spoken in Macau are Hokkien, Mandarin, English, and Tagalog.

Who are the political leaders of Macau?
Since Macau is under the rule of the People’s Republic of China, the Chief of State is the President of China, Hu Jintau. The Head of Government is Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On.

What are the main industries in Macau?
Macau is home to one of the world capitals of gambling, even surpassing Las Vegas in their gaming revenue. The casino industry is one of the main sources of income and jobs in Macau.

Since the People’s Republic of China decided to relax travel restrictions on their citizens wishing to visit Macau, the tourism industry has skyrocketed in Macau, especially since gambling is illegal in China.

What form of currency is used in Macau?
Macau uses the pataca, which is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar, which is also accepted in the territory.

What are the administrative divisions of Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is sub-divided into eighteen geographic districts, for administrative purposes. A district council is appointed for each district which advises the government on local matters that include public facilities, community programs, cultural activities, and environmental improvements.

Why does traffic in Macau drive on the left side of the road when the rest of China drives on the right?
China used to have traffic that drove on the left side and traffic that drove on the right side, albeit in different parts of the country. The northern provinces were right-side drivers, while the southern provinces drove on the left side. In 1946, China decided to switch the entire country to the right side of the road. Macau, being the special entity that it is, continued to allow its cars to drive on the left side.


Last Updated on: October 6th, 2017