Macau or Macao (/məˈkaʊ/ (listen); Chinese: 澳門, Cantonese: [ōu.mǔːn]; Portuguese: Macau [mɐˈkaw]), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in East Asia. Along with Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and several other major cities in Guangdong, the territory forms a core part of the Pearl River Delta metropolitan region. With a population of 653,100[3] in an area of 30.5 km2 (11.8 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. Originally governing under Chinese authority and sovereignty, Portugal was given perpetual occupation rights for Macau in 1887. Macau remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was returned to China. As a special administrative region, Macau maintains a separate political and economic system apart from mainland China.[6]

Macau is the gambling capital of the world.[7][8][9] Its economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, and in 2006 it surpassed Las Vegas as the world's largest gambling center by revenue.[10] It has a very high Human Development Index and the fourth-highest life expectancy in the world.[11][12] Macau is among the world's richest regions and its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity was higher than that of any country in the world.[13] In 2015, Macau was ranked as the fastest growing metropolitan area in the world by the Brookings Institution.[14]

Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China

Cantonese romanisation:Jūng'wàh Yàhnmàhn Guhng'wòhgwok Oumún Dahkbiht Hàhngjingkēui
Portuguese:Região Administrativa Especial de Macau da República Popular da China
Anthem: "March of the Volunteers"
Yihyúhnggwān Jeunhàhngkūk
Marcha dos Voluntários
City flower:
Nelumbo nucifera
lótus, flor-de-lótus, loto-índico, lótus-índico
Macau in China (zoomed) (extra close) (special marker) (+all claims hatched)
Macau on the globe (Southeast Asia centered)
Location of Macau
Official languages
Regional languageCantonese[a]
Official scriptsTraditional Chinese[b]
Portuguese orthography
Ethnic groups
88.4% Chinese
4.6% Filipino
2.4% Vietnamese
1.8% Portuguese or Macanese
2.8% other[1]
GovernmentDevolved executive-led system within a socialist republic
Fernando Chui
Sonia Chan
Lionel Leong
Wong Sio Chak
Ho Iat Seng
Sam Hou Fai
LegislatureLegislative Assembly
National representation
12 deputies (of 2,924)
29 delegates[2]
Special administrative region within the People's Republic of China
1 December 1887
26 March 1987
20 December 1999
• Total
115.3 km2 (44.5 sq mi)
• Water (%)
• 2017 estimate
653,100[3] (167th)
• Density
21,340/km2 (55,270.3/sq mi) (1st)
GDP (PPP)2018[4] estimate
• Total
$78.1 billion (95th)
• Per capita
$118,098 (2nd)
GDP (nominal)2018[4] estimate
• Total
$53.9 billion (83rd)
• Per capita
$81,585 (3rd)
HDI (2016)Increase 0.909[c]
very high · 17th
CurrencyMacanese pataca (MOP)
Time zoneUTC+8 (Macau Standard Time)
Date formatdd-mm-yyyy
Driving sideleft
Calling code+853
ISO 3166 codeMO
Internet TLD


Macau (Chinese characters)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese澳門
Simplified Chinese澳门
Literal meaningBay Gate
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinÀomén
other Mandarin
RomanizationAu4 mun2
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationOumún
Canton Romanizationou3mun4*2
Southern Min
Hokkien POJÒ-mn̂g
Eastern Min
Fuzhou BUCÓ̤-muòng
Macau Special Administrative Region
Traditional Chinese澳門特別行政區 (or 澳門特區)
Simplified Chinese澳门特别行政区 (or 澳门特区)
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinÀomén Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū (Àomén Tèqū)
Romanizationaumen dehbih ghantsenchiu
RomanizationAu4mun2 Tet6piet6 hang2zin4ki1
(Au4mun2 Tet6ki1)
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationOumún Dahkbiht Hàhngjing Keūi
IPA[ōu.mǔːn tɐ̀k̚.piːt̚ hɐ̏ŋ.tsēŋ kʰɵ́y]
JyutpingOu3mun2 Dak6bit6 Hang4zing3 Keoi1
Canton RomanizationOu3mun4*2 Deg6bid6 Heng4jing3 Kêu1
Southern Min
Hokkien POJÒ-mn̂g Te̍k-pia̍t Hêng-chèng-khu
Portuguese name
PortugueseRegião Administrativa Especial de Macau
[ʁɨʒiˈɐ̃w̃ ɐdminiʃtɾɐˈtivɐ (ɨ)ʃpɨsiˈaɫ dɨ mɐˈkaw]

The first known written record of the name "Macau", rendered as "Ya/A Ma Gang" ("亞/阿-媽/馬-港"), is in a letter dated 20 November 1555. The local inhabitants believed that the sea goddess Mazu (alternatively called A-Ma) had blessed and protected the harbour and called the waters around A-Ma Temple using her name.[15] When Portuguese explorers first arrived in the area and asked for the place name, the locals thought they were asking about the temple and told them it was "Ma Kok" (媽閣).[16] The earliest Portuguese spelling for this was Amaquão. Multiple variations were used until Amacão / Amacao and Macão / Macao became common during the 17th century, gradually standardising as Macao, and Macau today.[15]

Macau Peninsula had many names in Chinese, including Jingao (井澳/鏡澳), Haojing (濠鏡), and Haojingao (濠鏡澳).[15][17] The islands Taipa, Coloane, and Hengqin were collectively called Shizimen (十字門). These names would later become Aomen (澳門), Oumún in Cantonese and translating as "bay gate" or "port gate", to refer to the whole territory.[17]


Macau Peninsula, Taipa, and Coloane are first known to have been settled during the Han dynasty.[18] However, Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. The first European visitor to reach China was the explorer Jorge Álvares, who arrived in 1513.[19] Merchants first established a trading post in Hong Kong waters at Tamão (present-day Tuen Mun), beginning regular trade with nearby settlements in southern China.[19] Military clashes between the Ming and Portuguese navies followed the expulsion of the Tamão traders in 1521.[20] Despite the trade ban, Portuguese merchants continued to attempt settling on other parts of the Pearl River estuary, finally settling on Macau.[20] Luso-Chinese trade relations were formally reestablished in 1554 and Portugal soon after acquired a permanent lease for Macau in 1557.[21]

The initially small population of Portuguese merchants rapidly became a growing city.[22] The Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau was created in 1576, and by 1583, the Senate had been established to handle municipal affairs for the growing settlement.[22] Macau was at the peak of its prosperity as a major entrepôt during the late 16th century, providing a crucial connection in exporting Chinese silk to Japan during the Nanban trade period.[23] Although the Portuguese were initially prohibited from fortifying Macau or stockpiling weapons, the Fortaleza do Monte was constructed in response to frequent Dutch naval incursions. The Dutch attempted to take the city in the 1622 Battle of Macau, but were repelled successfully by the Portuguese.[24] Macau entered a period of decline in the 1640s following a series of catastrophic events for the burgeoning colony: Portuguese access to trade routes was irreparably severed when Japan halted trade in 1639,[25] Portugal revolted against Spain in 1640,[26] and Malacca fell to the Dutch in 1641.[27][28]

Maritime trade with China was banned in 1644 following the Qing conquest under the Haijin policies and limited only to Macau on a lesser scale while the new dynasty focused on eliminating surviving Ming loyalists.[29] While the Kangxi Emperor lifted the prohibition in 1684, Qing authorities again restricted trade under the Canton System in 1757.[30] Foreign ships were required to first stop at Macau before further proceeding to Canton.[31] Qing authorities exercised a much greater role in governing the territory during this period; Chinese residents were subject to Qing courts and new construction had to be approved by the resident mandarin beginning in the 1740s.[32] As the opium trade became more lucrative during the eighteenth century, Macau again became an important stopping point en route to China.[33]

Following the First Opium War and establishment of Hong Kong, Macau lost its role as a major port.[34] Firecracker and incense production, as well as tea and tobacco processing, were vital industries in the colony during this time.[35][36] Portugal was able to capitalise on China's post-war weakness and assert its sovereignty; the Governor of Macau stopped paying annual land rent[37] and annexed Taipa and Coloane to the colony, in 1851 and 1864 respectively.[38] Portugal also occupied nearby Lapa and Montanha,[37] but these would be returned to China by 1887, when perpetual occupation rights over Macau were formalised in the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peking. This agreement also obligated Portugal from ceding Macau without Chinese approval.[39] Despite occasional conflict between Cantonese authorities and the colonial government, Macau's status remained unchanged through the republican revolutions of both Portugal in 1910 and China in 1911.[40] The Kuomintang further affirmed Portuguese jurisdiction in Macau when the Treaty of Peking was renegotiated in 1928.[40]

During the Second World War, the Empire of Japan did not occupy the colony and generally respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau. However, after Japanese troops captured a British cargo ship in Macau waters in 1943, Japan installed a group of government "advisors" as an alternative to military occupation. The territory largely avoided military action during the war except in 1945, when the United States ordered air raids on Macau after learning that the colonial government was preparing to sell aviation fuel to Japan. Portugal was later given over US$20 million in compensation for the damage in 1950.[41]

Flag of the Government of Portuguese Macau (1976–1999)
Colonial Macau flag from 1976–1999

Refugees from mainland China swelled the population as they fled from the Chinese Civil War. Access to a large workforce enabled Macau's economy to grow as the colony expanded its clothing and textiles manufacturing industry, developed tourism, and legalised casino gaming.[42] However, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, residents dissatisfied with the colonial administration rioted in the 1966 12-3 incident, in which 8 people were killed and over 200 were injured. Portugal lost full control over the colony afterwards, and agreed to cooperate with the communist authorities in exchange for continued administration of Macau.[43]

Following the 1974 Carnation Revolution, Portugal formally relinquished Macau as an overseas province and acknowledged it as a "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration."[44] After China first concluded arrangements on Hong Kong's future with the United Kingdom, it entered negotiations with Portugal over Macau in 1986. They were concluded with the signing of the 1987 Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau, in which Portugal agreed to transfer the colony in 1999 and China would guarantee Macau's political and economic systems for 50 years after the transfer.[45] In the waning years of colonial rule, Macau rapidly urbanised and constructed large-scale infrastructure projects, including Macau International Airport and a new container port.[46] Macau was transferred to China on 20 December 1999, after 442 years of Portuguese rule.[6]

Following the transfer, Macau liberalised its casino industry (previously operating under a government-licensed monopoly) to allow foreign investors, starting a new period of economic development. The regional economy grew by a double-digit annual growth rate from 2002 to 2014, making Macau one of the richest economies in the world on a per capita basis.[47] Political debates have centred on the region's jurisdictional independence and the central government's adherence of "one country, two systems". While issues such as national security legislation have been controversial, Macanese residents have generally high levels of trust in the government.[48]

Government and politics

Assembleia Legislativa
The legislature meets in the Legislative Assembly Building in .

Macau is a special administrative region of China, with executive, legislative, and judicial powers devolved from the national government.[49] The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration provided for economic and administrative continuity through the transfer of sovereignty, resulting in an executive-led governing system largely inherited from the territory's history as a Portuguese colony.[50] Under these terms and the "one country, two systems" principle, the Basic Law of Macao is the regional constitution.[51] Because negotiations for the Joint Declaration and Basic Law began after transitional arrangements for Hong Kong were made, Macau's structure of government is very similar to Hong Kong's.[52]

The regional government is composed of three branches:

  • Executive: The Chief Executive is responsible for enforcing regional law,[53] can force reconsideration of legislation,[54] and appoints Executive Council members, a portion of the legislature, and principal officials.[53] Acting with the Executive Council, the Chief Executive can propose new bills, issue subordinate legislation,[55] and has authority to dissolve the legislature.[56]
  • Legislature: The unicameral Legislative Assembly enacts regional law, approves budgets, and has the power to impeach a sitting Chief Executive.[57]
  • Judiciary: The Court of Final Appeal and lower courts, whose judges are appointed by the Chief Executive on the advice of a recommendation commission,[58] interpret laws and overturn those inconsistent with the Basic Law.[59]

The Chief Executive is the head of government, and serves for a maximum of two five-year terms.[60] The State Council (led by the Premier of China) appoints the Chief Executive after nomination by the Election Committee, which is composed of 400 business, community, and government leaders.[61][62]

The Legislative Assembly has 33 members, each serving a four-year term: 14 are directly elected, 12 indirectly elected, and 7 appointed by the Chief Executive.[63] Indirectly elected assemblymen are selected from limited electorates representing sectors of the economy or special interest groups.[64] All directly elected members are chosen with proportional representation.[65]

Twelve political parties had representatives elected to the Legislative Assembly in the 2017 election.[66] These parties have aligned themselves into two ideological groups: the pro-establishment (the current government) and pro-democracy camps.[67] Macau is represented in the National People's Congress by 12 deputies chosen through an electoral college, and 29 delegates in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference appointed by the central government.[2]

Macau Government Headquarters 01
The Macau Government Headquarters is the official office of the Chief Executive.

Chinese national law does not generally apply in the region, and Macau is treated as a separate jurisdiction.[49] Its judicial system is based on Portuguese civil law, continuing the legal tradition established during colonial rule. Interpretative and amending power over the Basic Law and jurisdiction over acts of state lie with the central authority, however, making regional courts ultimately subordinate to the mainland's socialist civil law system. Decisions made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress can also override territorial judicial processes.[68]

The territory's jurisdictional independence is most apparent in its immigration and taxation policies. The Identification Department issues passports for permanent residents which differ from those of the mainland or Hong Kong, and the region maintains a regulated border with the rest of the country.[69] All travellers between Macau and China and Hong Kong must pass border controls, regardless of nationality.[70] Chinese citizens resident in mainland China do not have the right of abode in Macau, and are subject to immigration controls.[71] Public finances are handled separately from the national government, and taxes levied in Macau do not fund the central authority.[72]

The Macao Garrison is responsible for the region's defence. Although the Chairman of the Central Military Commission is supreme commander of the armed forces,[73] the regional government may request assistance from the garrison.[74]

The central government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handle diplomatic matters, but Macau retains the ability to maintain separate economic and cultural relations with foreign nations.[75] The territory negotiates its own trade agreements and actively participates in supranational organisations, including agencies of the World Trade Organization and United Nations.[76][77][78] The regional government maintains trade offices in Greater China and other nations.[79]

Administrative divisions

Administrative Division of Macau
Administrative divisions of Macau

The territory is divided into seven parishes. Cotai, a major area developed on reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane, and areas of the Macau New Urban Zone do not have defined parishes.[80] Historically, the parishes belonged to one of two municipalities (the Municipality of Macau or the Municipality of Ilhas) that were responsible for administering municipal services. The Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau superseded the municipalities and is currently responsible for providing local services.[81]

Parish/Area Chinese Area
Nossa Senhora de Fátima 花地瑪堂區 3.2
Santo António 花王堂區 1.1
São Lázaro 望德堂區 0.6
São Lourenço 風順堂區 1.0
大堂區 3.4
Nossa Senhora do Carmo 嘉模堂區 7.9
São Francisco Xavier 聖方濟各堂區 7.6
Cotai 路氹填海區 6.0
New District Zone A 新城A區 1.4


Macau peninsula
Aerial view of Macau Peninsula

Macau is on China's southern coast, 60 km (37 mi) west of Hong Kong, on the western side of the Pearl River estuary. It is surrounded by the South China Sea in the east and south, and neighbours the Guangdong city of Zhuhai to the west and north.[82] The territory consists of Macau Peninsula, Taipa, and Coloane.[83] A 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi) parcel of land in neighbouring Hengqin island that hosts the University of Macau also falls under the regional government's jurisdiction.[84] The territory's highest point is Coloane Alto, 170.6 metres (560 ft) above sea level.[80]

Urban development is concentrated on peninsular Macau, where most of the population lives.[85] The peninsula was originally a separate island with hilly terrain, which gradually became a tombolo as a connecting sandbar formed over time. Both natural sedimentation and land reclamation expanded the area enough to support urban growth.[86] Macau has tripled its land area in the last century, increasing from 10.28 km2 (3.97 sq mi) in the late 19th century[87] to 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi) in 2018.[80]

Cotai, the area of reclaimed land connecting Taipa and Coloane, contains many of the newer casinos and resorts established after 1999.[88] The region's jurisdiction over the surrounding sea was greatly expanded in 2015, when it was granted an additional 85 km2 (33 sq mi) of maritime territory by the State Council.[89] Further reclamation is currently underway to develop parts of the Macau New Urban Zone.[90] The territory also has control over part of an artificial island to maintain a border checkpoint for the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge.[80][91]


Macau has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa), characteristic of southern China. The territory are dual season dominant – summer (May to September) and winter (November to February) are the longest seasons, while spring (March and April) and autumn (October) are relatively brief periods.[82] The summer monsoon brings warm and humid air from the sea, with the most frequent rainfall occurring during the season. Typhoons also occur most often then, bringing significant spikes in rainfall. During the winter, northern winds from the continent bring dry air and much less rainfall.[92] The highest and lowest temperatures recorded at the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau are 38.9 °C (102.0 °F) on both 2 July 1930 and 6 July 1930 and −1.8 °C (28.8 °F) on 26 January 1948.[93]

Climate data for Macau (1981–2010, extremes 1901–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.1
Average high °C (°F) 18.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.1
Average low °C (°F) 12.5
Record low °C (°F) −1.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 26.5
Average precipitation days 5.5 9.9 11.7 12.0 13.9 17.7 16.0 16.0 12.3 6.1 4.6 4.5 130.2
Average relative humidity (%) 73.8 81.0 84.5 86.1 84.4 84.0 81.8 81.4 77.9 72.4 70.2 68.5 78.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 127.4 79.4 71.5 85.3 136.4 155.3 223.2 195.4 176.5 192.3 172.2 159.1 1,773.9
Source: Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau[94][95]
The Macau Peninsula skyline, viewed from Taipa
The Macau Peninsula skyline, viewed from Taipa
City view of the Macau Peninsula
City view of the Macau Peninsula


The Statistics and Census Service estimated Macau's population at 653,100 at the end of 2017.[3] With a population density of 21,340 people per square kilometre,[96] Macau is the most densely populated region in the world. The overwhelming majority (88.7 per cent) is Han Chinese, many of whom originate from Guangdong (31.9 per cent) or Fujian (5.9 per cent).[97] The remaining 11.6 per cent are non-ethnic Chinese minorities, primarily Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Portuguese. Macanese, native-born multiracial people with mixed Portuguese ancestry, make up a portion of the Portuguese population.[1] A large portion of the population are Portuguese citizens, a legacy of colonial rule; at the time of the transfer of sovereignty in 1999, 107,000 residents held Portuguese passports.[98]

The predominant language is Cantonese, a variety of Chinese originating in Guangdong. It is spoken by 87.5 per cent of the population, 80.1 per cent as a first language and 7.5 per cent as a second language. Only 2.3 per cent can speak Portuguese, the other official language;[99] 0.7 per cent are native speakers, and 1.6 per cent use it as a second language. Increased immigration from mainland China in recent years has added to the number of Mandarin speakers, making up about half of the population (50.4 per cent); 5.5 per cent are native speakers and 44.9 per cent are second language speakers.[100] Traditional Chinese characters are used in writing, rather than the simplified characters used on the mainland. English is considered an additional working language[101] and is spoken by over a quarter of the population (27.5 per cent); 2.8 per cent are native speakers, and 24.7 per cent speak English as a second language.[100] Macanese Patois, a local creole generally known as Patuá, is a critically endangered language still spoken by several dozen Macanese residents.[102]

Among the religious population, Chinese folk religions (including Confucianism and Taoism have the most adherents (58.9 per cent) and are followed by Buddhism (17.3 per cent) and Christianity (7.2 per cent), while 15.4 per cent of the population profess no religious affiliation at all. Small minorities adhering to non-Chinese or Christian religions (less than 1 per cent), including Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam, are also resident in Macau.[103]

Life expectancy in Macau was 81.6 years for males and 87.7 years for females in 2018,[104] the fourth highest in the world.[105] Cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease are the territory's three leading causes of death. Most government-provided healthcare services are free of charge, though alternative treatment is also heavily subsidised.[106]

Migrant workers living in Macau account for over 25 per cent of the entire workforce.[107] They largely work in lower wage sectors of the economy, including construction, hotels, and restaurants. As a growing proportion of local residents take up employment in the gaming industry, the disparity in income between local and migrant workers has been increasing.[84] Rising living costs have also pushed a large portion of non-resident workers to live in Zhuhai.[107]


Lago Nam Van, Macao, 2013-08-08, DD 05
Casinos on the Macau skyline

Macau has a capitalist service economy largely based on casino gaming and tourism. It is the world's 83rd-largest economy, with a nominal GDP of approximately MOP433 billion (US$53.9 billion).[4] Although Macau has one of the highest per capita GDPs, the territory also has a high level of wealth disparity.[88] Macau's gaming industry is the largest in the world, generating over MOP195 billion (US$24 billion) in revenue and about seven times larger than that of Las Vegas.[108]

The regional economy is heavily reliant on casino gaming.[108] Gambling as a share of GDP peaked in 2013 at over 60 per cent,[108] and continues to account for 49.1 per cent of total economic output. The vast majority of casino patrons are tourists from mainland China, making up 68 per cent of all visitors.[109] Casino gaming is illegal in both the mainland and Hong Kong, giving Macau a legal monopoly on the industry in China.[108]

Casino gambling was legalised in 1962 and the gaming industry initially operated under a government-licensed monopoly granted to the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau for 40 years. When this grant expired in 2002, the government allowed open bidding for casino licenses to attract foreign investors.[110] Along with an easing of travel restrictions on mainland Chinese visitors, this triggered a period of rapid economic growth; from 1999 to 2016, Macau's gross domestic product multiplied by 7[108] and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 to 1.9 per cent.[84] The Sands Macao, Wynn Macau, MGM Macau, and Venetian Macau were all opened during the first decade after liberalisation of casino concessions.[110] Casinos employ about 24 per cent of the total workforce in the region.[84]

Export-oriented manufacturing previously contributed to a much larger share of economic output, peaking at 36.9 per cent of GDP in 1985[111] and falling to less than 1 per cent in 2017.[112] The bulk of these exports were cotton textiles and apparel, but also included toys and electronics.[113] At the transfer of sovereignty in 1999, manufacturing, financial services, construction and real estate, and gaming were the four largest sectors of the economy.[108] Macau's shift to an economic model entirely dependent on gaming caused concern over its overexposure to a single sector, prompting the regional government to attempt re-diversifying its economy.[114]

The government traditionally had a non-interventionist role in the economy and taxes corporations at very low rates.[115] Post-handover administrations have generally been more involved in enhancing social welfare to counter the cyclical nature of the gaming industry.[116] Economic growth has been attributed in large part to the high number of mainlander visits to Macau, and the central government exercises a role in guiding casino business growth through its control of the flow of tourists.[117][118] The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement formalised a policy of free trade between the two areas, with each jurisdiction pledging to remove remaining obstacles to trade and cross-boundary investment.[119]

Due to a lack of available land for farming, agriculture is not significant in the economy. Food is exclusively imported to Macau and almost all foreign goods are transshipped through Hong Kong.[120]



Air Macau Airbus A321-200 B-MCA (24311327220)
Air Macau Airbus A321 taxiing at Macau International Airport

Macau has a highly developed road system, with over 400 km (250 mi) of road constructed in the territory. Automobiles drive on the left (unlike in both mainland China and Portugal), due to historical influence of the Portuguese Empire.[121] Vehicle traffic is extremely congested, especially within the oldest part of the city, where streets are the most narrow.[122] Public bus services operate over 80 routes, supplemented by free hotel shuttle buses that also run routes to popular tourist attractions and downtown locations.[123] About 1,500 black taxicabs are licensed to carry riders in the territory.[124] The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge provides a direct link with the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary.[125] Cross-boundary traffic to mainland China may also pass through border checkpoints at the Portas do Cerco and Lótus Bridge.[126]

Macau International Airport serves over 8 million passengers each year and is the primary hub for local flag carrier Air Macau.[127] The territory's first rail network, the Macau Light Rapid Transit, is currently under construction and expected to begin operations in 2019. The Taipa line will connect 11 metro stations throughout Taipa and Cotai.[128] Ferry services to Hong Kong and mainland China operate out of Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, Inner Harbour Ferry Terminal, and Taipa Ferry Terminal. Daily helicopter service is also available to Hong Kong and Shenzhen.[129]


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 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%.[130] Currently, there is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction, Macau Portuguese School.

Macau does not have its own region-wide education system; non-tertiary schools follow either the British, the Chinese, Portuguese, or the Canadian education system. There are currently 10 tertiary educational institutions in the region, four of them being public.[131] In 2006, the Programme for International Student Assessment, a worldwide 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.[132] Nevertheless, educational attainment in Macau is relatively low when compared to other high income countries. 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.[130]

As prescribed by the Macau Basic Law 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 organizations and individuals may, in accordance with law, run educational undertakings of various kinds.[133]


Macau is served by one major public hospital, the Hospital Conde S. Januário, and one major private hospital, the Kiang Wu Hospital, both located in Macau Peninsula, as well as a university associated 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.[134]

None of the Macau hospitals are 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.[131] Local nurses are trained at the Macau Polytechnic Institute and the Kiang Wu Nursing College.[135][136] Currently there are no training courses in midwifery in Macau. A study by the University of Macau, commissioned by the Macau SAR government, concluded that Macau is too small to have its own medical specialist training centre.[137]

The Macau Corps of Firefighters (Portuguese: Corpo de Bombeiros de Macau) is responsible for ambulance service (Ambulância de Macau). The Macau Red Cross also operates ambulances (Toyota HiAce vans) for emergency and non-emergencies to local hospitals with volunteer staff. The organization has a total of 739 uniformed firefighters and paramedics serving from 7 stations in Macau.[138]

The Health Bureau in Macau is mainly responsible for coordinating the activities between the public and private organizations in the area of public health, and assure the health of citizens through specialized and primary health care services, as well as disease prevention and health promotion.[139] 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 organization of care and prevention of diseases affecting the population, sets guidelines for hospitals and private healthcare providers, and issues licences.[140]

As of 2016 Macau healthcare authorities send patients to Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong in instances where the local Macau hospitals are not equipped to deal with their scenarios, and many Macau residents intentionally seek healthcare in Hong Kong because they place more trust in Hong Kong doctors than in Mainland-trained doctors operating in Macau.[137]


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,[141] 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.[142] 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 Roman Catholic rite and journey, which travels from Saint Austin's Church to the Cathedral, also taking place in February.[143]

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.[143] 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.

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 by UNESCO on 15 July 2005 during the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Durban, South Africa.[144] However, the Macao government is criticized for ignoring the conservation of heritage in urban planning.[145] In 2007, local residents of Macao wrote a letter to UNESCO complaining about construction projects around world heritage Guia Lighthouse (Focal height 108 meters), including the headquarter of the Liaison Office (91 meters). UNESCO then issued a warning to the Macau government, which led former Chief Executive Edmund Ho to sign a notice regulating height restrictions on buildings around the site.[146] In 2015, the New Macau Association submitted a report to UNESCO claiming that the government had failed to protect Macao's cultural heritage against threats by urban development projects. One of the main examples of the report is that the headquarter of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government, which is located on the Guia foothill and obstructs the view of the Guia Fortress (one of the world heritages symbols of Macao). One year later, Roni Amelan, a spokesman from UNESCO Press service, said that the UNESCO has asked China for information and is still waiting for a reply.[147][146] In 2016, the Macau government approved an 81-meter construction limit for the residential project, which reportedly goes against the city's regulations on the height of buildings around world heritage site Guia Lighthouse.[146]

Guia Fortress in Danger (1)
The view of Guia Lighthouse (center of the picture) is blocked by the headquarter of the Macau Liaison Office. The Guia Lighthouse case proved that the Macao government had ignored the conservation of heritage in urban planning.[145]
Teatro Don Pedro V, Macao, 2013-08-08, DD 01
Dom Pedro V theatre.


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.[148] Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices and flavours including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau, giving special aromas and tastes.[149] Famous dishes include minchi, capella, 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.[150]


2008 Macau F3 GP
2008 Macau F3 Grand Prix in progress

In general, football (soccer) has the greatest popularity in Macau, which has a representative international side, the Macau national football team. The Liga de Elite is the city's semi-professional league, where the "Big Three" professional football clubs of Portugal have their own branches: S.L. Benfica de Macau, Sporting Clube de Macau, and FC Porto de Macau, although Porto has not participated in the league since 2012.

Another common sport is rink hockey, which is often practised by the Portuguese. The national team of Macau is the most powerful of Asia, always participates in the Rink Hockey World Championship in B category and has many Rink Hockey Asian Championship titles. The last Championship was won in Lishui, Zhejiang, at the 2016 Asian Roller Hockey Championship. Macau also has a basketball team, which qualified for the Asian Basketball Championship twice.

The automobile racing event Macau Grand Prix is arguably the most important international sporting event in Macau, mainly with Formula 3, motorcycle road racing and touring car races.

Since 1989, Macau owns a thoroughbred horse racing track called Taipa Racecourse operated by the Macau Jockey Club. The racecourse has a 15,000-seat grandstand.

Twin towns and sister cities

Macau has six sister cities, listed chronologically by year joined:[151]

Additionally, Macau has other cultural agreements with the following cities:

See also

Notes and references


  1. ^ a b No specific variety of Chinese is official in the territory. Residents predominantly speak Cantonese, the de facto regional standard.
  2. ^ a b For all government use, documents written using Traditional Chinese characters are authoritative over ones inscribed with Simplified Chinese characters. Portuguese shares equal status with Chinese in all official proceedings.
  3. ^ The UN does not calculate the HDI of Macau. The government of Macau calculates its own HDI.[5]


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Government reports

Academic publications



News articles

Further reading

  • Cremer, R. D. (Editor) (1988). Macau: City of Commerce and Culture. University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-96608-3.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Gunn, Geoffrey C. (1996) Encountering Macau: A Portuguese City-State on the Periphery of China, 1957-1999 (Boulder, CO, Westview Press). ISBN 0-8133-8970-4 In Portuguese (1998) Ao Encontro de Macau: Uma cidade-estado portuguesa a periferia da China, 1557-1999 (Macau: Fundação Macau]. ISBN 972-658-074-9 In Chinese (2009) 澳门史:1557~1999 (中央编译出版社).
  • Gunn, Geoffrey C. (ed), (2016) Wartime Macau: Under the Japanese Shadow (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press). ISBN 978-988-8390-51-9
  • Berlie, Jean A. (1999). Macao 2000. Oxford University Press editor, Oxford, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-0-19-592074-1.
  • Berlie, Jean A. (2000). Macau's overview at the turn of the century. St. John's University Institute of Asian Studies editor, New York.
  • De Pina-Cabral (2002). Between China and Europe: Person, Culture and Emotion in Macau. Berg Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8264-5749-3.
  • Eayrs, James (2003). Macau Foreign Policy and Government Guide. International Business Publications, United States. ISBN 978-0-7397-6451-0.

External links


Coordinates: 22°10′N 113°33′E / 22.167°N 113.550°E

Air Macau

Air Macau Company Limited (Chinese: 澳門航空股份有限公司) is the flag carrier airline of Macau. It operates services to 24 destinations in Mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as regional international services, from its hub at Macau International Airport. In 2014, Air Macau carried 2.12 million passengers with an average load factor of 68.20% and carried 15,900 tonnes of cargo and mail.


Cantonese is a variety of Chinese spoken in the city of Guangzhou (also known as Canton) and its surrounding area in southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety and standard form of Yue Chinese, one of the major subgroups of Chinese.

In mainland China, it is the lingua franca of the province of Guangdong (being the majority language of the Pearl River Delta) and neighbouring areas such as Guangxi. It is the dominant and official language of Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is also widely spoken amongst overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia (most notably in Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as in Singapore and Cambodia to a lesser extent) and throughout the Western world.

While the term Cantonese specifically refers to the prestige variety, it is often used in a broader sense for the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but largely mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese. When Cantonese and the closely related Yuehai dialects are classified together, there are about 80 million total speakers. Cantonese is viewed as a vital and inseparable part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in overseas communities.

Although Cantonese shares a lot of vocabulary with Mandarin, the two varieties are mutually unintelligible because of differences in pronunciation, grammar and lexicon. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two varieties. A notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is how the spoken word is written; both can be recorded verbatim, but very few Cantonese speakers are knowledgeable in the full Cantonese written vocabulary, so a non-verbatim formalized written form is adopted, which is more akin to the Mandarin written form. This results in the situation in which a Cantonese and a Mandarin text may look similar but are pronounced differently.


Freguesia (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˌfɾɛɣɨˈzi.ɐ]), usually translated as "parish" or "civil parish", is the third-level administrative subdivision of Portugal, as defined by the 1976 Constitution. It is also a local administrative unit in the former Portuguese overseas territories of Cape Verde and Macau. In the past, was also an administrative division of the other Portuguese overseas territories. The parroquia in the Spanish autonomous communities of Galicia and Asturias is similar to a freguesia.

A freguesia is a subdivision of a município (municipality). Most often, a parish takes the name of its seat, which is usually the most important (or the single) human agglomeration within its area, which can be a neighbourhood or city district, a group of hamlets, a village, a town or an entire city. In cases where the seat is itself divided into more than one parish, each one takes the name of a landmark within its area or of the patron saint from the usually coterminous Catholic parish (paróquia in Portuguese). Be it a city district or village, the civil parish is often based on an ecclesiastical parish.

Since the creation of a democratic local administration, in 1976, the Portuguese parishes have been ruled by a system composed by an executive body (the junta de freguesia, "parish board") and a deliberative body (the assembleia de freguesia, "parish assembly"). The members of the assembleia de freguesia are publicly elected every four years. The presidents of the parish boards are also members of the municipal assembly.

Hong Kong Sign Language

Hong Kong Sign Language (香港手語), or HKSL, is the deaf sign language of Hong Kong and Macau. It derived from the southern dialect of Chinese Sign Language, but is now an independent and not mutually intelligible, separate language. Macau Sign Language is a dialect, and is understood by practitioners of HKSL, although Macau Sign Language practitioners may find it slightly more difficult to understand HKSL.

Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge

The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZMB) is a 55-kilometre (34 mi) bridge–tunnel system consisting of a series of three cable-stayed bridges, an undersea tunnel, and four artificial islands. It is both the longest sea crossing and the longest fixed link on earth. The HZMB spans the Lingding and Jiuzhou channels, connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai—three major cities on the Pearl River Delta.The HZMB was designed to last for 120 years and built with a cost of 126.9 billion yuan (US$ 18.77 billion). The cost of constructing the Main Bridge was estimated at 51.1 billion yuan (US$ 7.56 billion) funded by bank loans and shared among the governments of mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.Originally set to be opened to traffic in late 2016, the structure was completed on 6 February 2018 and journalists were subsequently given rides over the bridge. On 24 October 2018, the HZMB was opened to the public after its inauguration a day earlier by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (paramount leader).

Macanese Patois

Macanese Patois (known as Patuá to its speakers) is a Portuguese-based creole language with a substrate from Malay, Cantonese and Sinhalese, which was originally spoken by the Macanese community of the Portuguese colony of Macau. It is now spoken by a few families in Macau and in the Macanese diaspora.

On 20 February 2009, the new edition of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger classified Patua as a "critically endangered" language. The Atlas puts the number of Patua speakers at 50 as of the year 2000. It underwent decreolization and a shift to Standard Portuguese while Macau was still under Portuguese administration.

The language is also called by its speakers Papia Cristam di Macau ("Christian speech of Macau"), and has been nicknamed Dóci Língu di Macau ("Sweet Language of Macau") and Doci Papiaçam ("sweet speech") by poets. In Portuguese it is called Macaense, Macaista Chapado ("pure Macanese"), or Patuá (from French patois).

Macanese cuisine

Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau, and consists of a blend of southern Chinese (especially Cantonese) and Portuguese cuisines, with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Lusophone world. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Besides local Chinese ingredients, its ingredients and seasonings also include those from Europe, Latin America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

Common cooking techniques include baking, grilling and roasting. The former, seldom seen in other styles of Chinese cooking, speaks to the eclectic nature of Macanese cooking. Macau is renowned for its flavour-blending culture, and modern Macanese cuisine may be considered a type of fusion cuisine.

Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices including turmeric, coconut milk, and cinnamon, and dried cod (bacalhau) , giving special aromas and tastes. Famous dishes include galinha à Portuguesa, galinha à Africana (African chicken), bacalhau (traditional Portuguese salt cod), pato de cabidela, Macanese chili shrimps, minchi, and stir-fried curry crab. Other dishes include pig's ear and papaya salad, and rabbit stewed in wine, cinnamon and star anise. Tapas are also an integral part of Macanese cuisine.

The most popular snack is the pork chop bun. The most popular desserts are ginger milk, pastéis de nata (egg tarts), and almond cake.

Famous restaurants of Macau include the Restaurante Porto Interior, Restaurante Litoral, Restaurante Espao and Restaurante O Santos.

Macao Special Administrative Region passport

The Macao Special Administrative Region passport (Portuguese: Passaporte da Região Administrativa Especial de Macau; Chinese: 澳門特別行政區護照) is a passport issued to Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of Macau.

In accordance with Macau Basic Law, since the transfer of sovereignty over Macau on 20 December 1999, this passport has been issued by the Identification Services Bureau (under the Secretariat for Administration and Justice) of the government of Macau under the prerogative of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China.

The official languages of Macau are Portuguese and Chinese; consequently, all the passport's text is in traditional Chinese characters, Portuguese, and English.

Macau Grand Prix

The Macau Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prémio de Macau; Chinese: 澳門格蘭披治大賽車) is a motorsport road race for automobiles and motorcycles held annually in Macau. It is the only street circuit racing event in which both cars and motorcycles participate.

The first Macau Grand Prix event was held in 1954, as a sports car event. In 1961, the title race became an open-wheel Formula Libre event. The event has also had a variety of support races in its duration. Production cars joined the event in 1957, which were superseded by touring cars in 1972. The event received world championship status from 2005 to 2014 as the final round of the World Touring Car Championship. In 1976, the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix was introduced. In 2008, a GT3 race was added to the event, which became known as the FIA GT World Cup.

The highlight of the race weekend is the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix, featuring many national Formula Three champions and drivers from around the world, with the winner being awarded the FIA Formula 3 World Cup. Due to the challenging nature of the circuit, which consists of fast straights (a Formula Three car can reach a top speed of 275 km/h (171 mph) at the end of the straight), tight corners and uncompromising crash barriers, the Macau Grand Prix is considered one of the most demanding circuits in the world. Many current or former Formula One drivers have participated in the event early in their careers and some of them have won the prestigious prize. Previous winners include Riccardo Patrese, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Takuma Sato, Lucas di Grassi, Edoardo Mortara, António Félix da Costa and Felix Rosenqvist.

Macau International Airport

Macau International Airport (IATA: MFM, ICAO: VMMC) (Portuguese: Aeroporto Internacional de Macau) is an international airport in the special administrative region of Macau, situated at the eastern end of Taipa island and neighbouring waters which opened for commercial operations on 9 November 1995, during Portuguese administration of the region.

Since then the airport has been a common transfer point for people traveling between the Mainland and Taiwan, as well as a passenger hub for destinations in mainland China and Southeast Asia. During 2006, the airport handled 5 million passengers and 220,000 tonnes of cargo. In 2017 the number of passengers had increased to 7,165,803 which is more than the 6 million passengers per year the terminal was designed for.

Macau national football team

The Macau national football team (Chinese: 澳門足球代表隊; Portuguese: Selecção Macaense de Futebol) represents the Chinese special administrative region of Macau in international association football. The team is supervised by the Macau Football Association (Chinese: 澳門足球總會; Portuguese: Associação de Futebol de Macau). The Macau football team has a ranking that is one of the lowest among the FIFA members. Although usually known as simply Macau, the EAFF refers to the team as Macau, China.

The national team has never qualified for the AFC Asian Cup or EAFF East Asian Championship. The team qualified for the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup, where they got one draw and two losses.

The team had been representing Macau in international football events before 1999 when Macau was a dependent territory of Portugal. It continues to represent Macau even after Macau was handed over to the People's Republic of China by Portugal and became a special administrative region of China in 1999. This team is separate from the China national football team, as the Basic Law and the principle of "one country, two systems" allows Macau to maintain its own representative teams in international sports competitions. In Macau, the Macau football team is colloquially referred as the "Macau team" (澳門隊), while the Chinese national team is referred as the "national team" (國家隊).

Mainland China

Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, is the geopolitical as well as geographical area under the direct jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It includes Hainan island and strictly speaking, politically, does not include the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, even though both are partially on the geographic mainland (continental landmass).

There are two terms in Chinese for "mainland":

Dàlù (大陆; 大陸), which means "the continent", and

Nèidì (内地; 內地), literally "inland" or "inner land".In the PRC, the usage of the two terms are strictly speaking not interchangeable. To emphasize "equal footing" in Cross-Strait relations, the term must be used in official contexts with reference to Taiwan, with the PRC referring to itself as "the mainland side" (as opposed to "the Taiwan side"). But in its relations with Hong Kong and Macau, the PRC government refers to itself as "the Central People's Government", and Mainland China excluding Hong Kong and Macau is referred as Nèidì.

"Mainland area" is the opposing term to "free area of the Republic of China" used in the ROC Constitution.

One country, two systems

"One country, two systems" is a constitutional principle formulated by Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC), for the reunification of China during the early 1980s. He suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own economic and administrative systems, while the rest of the PRC (or simply "China") uses the socialism with Chinese characteristics system. Under the principle, each of the two regions could continue to have its own governmental system, legal, economic and financial affairs, including trade relations with foreign countries.

Portuguese Macau

Portuguese Macau refers to Macau's history from the establishment of Portuguese settlement in mid-16th century to the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1999. Macau was both the first and last European holding in China.

Special administrative regions of China

The special administrative regions (SAR) are one type of provincial-level administrative divisions of China directly under Central People's Government. They enjoy the highest degree of autonomy.

The legal basis for the establishment of SARs, unlike the administrative divisions of Mainland China, is provided for by Article 31, rather than Article 30, of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China of 1982. Article 31 reads: "The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People's Congress in the light of the specific conditions".At present, there are two SARs established according to the Constitution, namely the Hong Kong SAR and the Macau SAR, former British and Portuguese dependencies respectively, transferred to China in 1997 and 1999 respectively pursuant to the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration of 1987. Pursuant to their Joint Declarations, which are binding inter-state treaties registered with the United Nations, and their Basic laws, the Chinese SARs "shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy". There is additionally the Wolong Special Administrative Region in Sichuan province, which is however not established according to Article 31 of the Constitution. Generally, the two SARs are not considered to constitute a part of Mainland China, by both Chinese and SAR authorities.

The provision to establish special administrative regions appeared in the constitution in 1982, in anticipation of the talks with the United Kingdom over the question of the sovereignty over Hong Kong. It was envisioned as the model for the eventual reunification with Taiwan and other islands, where the Republic of China has resided since 1949. Special administrative regions should not be confused with special economic zones, which are areas in which special economic laws apply to promote trade and investments.

Under the One country, two systems principle, the two SARs continue to possess their own governments, multi-party legislatures, legal systems, police forces, monetary systems, separate customs territory, immigration policies, national sports teams, official languages, postal systems, academic and educational systems, and substantial competence in external relations that are different or independent from the People's Republic of China.

Special administrative regions should be distinguished from the constituent countries system in the United Kingdom or Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Time in China

The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00 (eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time), despite China spanning five geographical time zones. The official national standard time is called Beijing Time (Chinese: 北京时间) domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally. Daylight saving time has not been observed since 1991.The special administrative regions (SARs) maintain their own time authorities, with standards called Hong Kong Time (香港時間) and Macau Standard Time (澳門標準時間). These have been equivalent to Beijing time since 1992.

In addition, it has been proposed during 2005's NPC & CPPCC of China that provinces in the west (such as Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Chongqing) should use the time offset of UTC+07:00. However, this proposal has not been voted upon yet.

Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters (traditional Chinese: 正體字/繁體字; simplified Chinese: 正体字/繁体字; Pinyin: Zhèngtǐzì/Fántǐzì) are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century (during the Southern and Northern Dynasties).

The retronym "traditional Chinese" is used to contrast traditional characters with Simplified Chinese characters, a standardized character set introduced by the government of the People's Republic of China on Mainland China in the 1950s.

Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau; as well as in Overseas Chinese communities outside Southeast Asia. In contrast, Simplified Chinese characters are used in mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia in official publications. However, several countries – such as Australia, the US and Canada – are increasing their number of printed materials in Simplified Chinese, to better accommodate citizens from mainland China.

The debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters has been a long-running issue among Chinese communities. Currently, a large number of overseas Chinese online newspapers allow users to switch between both character sets.

Visa policy of Macau

The Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region allows citizens of specific countries/territories to travel to Macau for tourism or business purposes for periods ranging from 180 days to 14 days without having to obtain a visa. For other entry purposes, such as establishing residence on a long term basis, a different policy applies.

The Serviço de Migração (Immigration Department), under the Public Security Police Force, is the government agency responsible for immigration matters, whilst the Public Security Police Force itself is responsible for enforcing immigration laws in Macau.All visitors must hold a passport valid for 1 month.

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