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Macau (Chinese: 澳門), also spelled Macao ( /məˈkaʊ/), is, along with Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China. It lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.
The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism but also includes manufacturing.
Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 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 PRC's 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, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world.
The history of Macau is traced back to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC), when the region now called Macau came under the jurisdiction of Panyu county, in Nanhai prefecture (present day 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.
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 ( 20 kilograms / 44 pounds ) of silver. The Portuguese continued to pay an annual tribute up to 1863 in order to stay in Macau.
In 1564, Portugal commanded the trade of India, Japan, and China, though the Portuguese pride was deeply shocked at the supreme indifference with which the Chinese treated them. Their atrocities at Ningpo and Macao, and their subsequent servility, had opened the eyes of the Celestials to their true character, and unfortunately for other European adventurers, they had come to the conclusion that all western nations were alike. The senate of Macao complained to the viceroy of Goa, of the contempt with which the Chinese authorities treated them, confessing however that “it was owing more to the Portuguese themselves than to the Chinese”. The Chinese were obliged to restrict the commerce of Portugal to the port of Macao, in 1631.
During the 17th century some 5,000 slaves lived in Macao, in addition to 2,000 Portuguese and 20,000 Chinese. The cost of one Mozambique slave was 25 patacas.
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. On June 24, 1622, the Dutch attacked Macau in the Battle of Macau, expecting to turn it into a Dutch possession after its conquest. African slaves who fought for the Portuguese repulsed the Dutch attack, and the Dutch never tried to conquer Macau again. The majority of the defenders were Africans slaves, with only a few Portuguese soldiers and priests. Captain Kornelis Reyerszoon was commander of the 800 Dutch strong invasion force.
The Dutch Governor Jan Coen said after the defeat that "The slaves of the Portuguese at Macao served them so well and faithfully, that it was they who defeated and drove away our people there last year", and "Our people saw very few Portuguese" during the battle.
Following the Opium War (1839–42), Portugal occupied Taipa and Coloane in 1851 and 1864 respectively. On 1 December 1887, the Qing and Portuguese governments signed the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce, under which China ceded the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal" in compliance with the statements of the Protocol of Lisbon. In return, Macau Government would cooperate with Hong Kong's smuggle of Indian opium and China would be able to increase profits through customs taxes. Portugal was also obliged "never to alienate Macau without previous agreement with China", therefore ensuring that negotiation between Portugal and France (regarding a possible exchange of Macau and Portuguese Guinea with the French Congo) or with other countries would not go forward – so that the British commercial interests would be secured; Macau officially became a territory under Portuguese administration.
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.
In the Second World War, unlike in the case of Portuguese Timor which was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 along with Dutch Timor, the Japanese respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau, but only up to a point. As such, Macau enjoyed a brief period of economic prosperity as the only neutral port in South China, after the Japanese had occupied Guangzhou (Canton) and Hong Kong. In August 1943, Japanese troops seized the British steamer Sian in Macao and killed about 20 guards. The next month they demanded the installation of Japanese "advisors" under the alternative of military occupation. The result was that a virtual Japanese protectorate was created over Macau. Japanese domination ended in August 1945.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Beijing government declared the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce 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, 6 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured. On 28 January 1967, the Portuguese government issued a formal apology.
Shortly after the overthrow of the Portuguese dictatorship in 1974 in Lisbon, the new Portuguese government determined it would 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 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 20 December 1999. The economy since then has continued to prosper with the sustained growth of tourism from mainland China and the construction of new casinos.
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 worshippers celebrating the A-Ma festival. In May it is common to see dancing dragons at the Feast of the Drunken Dragon and twinkling-clean Buddhas at the Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha. 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. 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 locations, was officially listed as a World Heritage Site UNESCO on 15 July 2005 during the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Durban, South Africa.
Macau is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometres (90 mi) from Guangzhou. It also has 41 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline, yet only 0.31 kilometres (0.19 mi) of land border with Guangdong. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now connected by landfill forming the Cotai Strip. The peninsula is formed by the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) estuary on the east and the Xi Jiang (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 Port of Entry 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 (Köppen Cwa), with average relative humidity between 75% and 90%. Similar to much of South China, seasonal climate is greatly influenced by the monsoons, and differences in temperature and humidity between summer and winter are noticeable, though not as great as inland China. The average annual temperature of Macau is 22.7 °C (72.9 °F). July is the warmest month, with average temperature being 28.9 °C (84.0 °F). The coolest month is January, with a mean temperature of 15.0 °C (59.0 °F).
Located on China's southern coast, Macau has ample rainfall, with average annual precipitation being 2,120 millimetres (83 in). However, winter is mostly dry due to the influence of the vast Siberian High affecting much of East Asia. Autumn in Macau, from October to November, is sunny and still pleasantly warm with low humidity. Winter (December to early March) is generally mild with temperature above 10°C most of the time, although it could also drop to below 5°C at times. Humidity starts to increase from late March. Summer is very warm to hot (often rising above 30 °C (86 °F) at daytime). The hot weather is often followed by heavy rain, thunderstorms and occasional typhoons.