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Macau travel information guide
Macau is situated southeast of China, on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province. It lies 70 kilometers southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometers from Guangzhou.
Macau has a total area of approximately 21 square kilometers, consisting of a narrow peninsula of Macau, which is linked to the People's Republic of China at Portas do Cerco ("Border Gate"). The territory is also connected to the island of Taipa by two bridges, the old bridge "Governor Nobre de Carvalho" (2.6km) and the new bridge "Amizade" (4.4km), which in turn is joined to the island of Coloane by a 2.1km causeway.
The weather in the territory is moderately hot, with an average annual temperature of just over 20° C and a yearly mean variation between 6 to 25° C with high humidity in summer (April - September). Humidity percentages range from 73 to 90%. Do expect an occasional short period of heavy rains and sporadic tropical storms.
A good time to go to Macau would be during the autumn season, which is
from October to December, when days are sunny and warm and the humidity
low. Winter is from January to March and it can get cold, but one can
expect to have some periods of clear skies as well.
Macau is officially a Chinese territory under Portuguese administration. It has its own government structure, which is endowed with political and legislative power and enshrined in the Organic Statue of Macau.
The Governor is appointed by the President of the Portuguese Republic and is aided by an Advisory Council. In his executive functions, the Governor is assisted by a maximum of seven Under-Secretaries in charge of relevant sectors of administration.
Macau enjoys economic, financial, and judicial autonomy. However, under
the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration of Macau, signed in April 1987,
the government of the People's Republic of China will take over sovereignty
of the territory on December 20, 1999. Subsequently, the Special Administrative
Region of Macau (RAEM) will be instituted, which will be governed according
to the Basic Law.
Macau is derived from the name of a Chinese goddess, known as A-Má or Ling Má, and is popular with seafarers and fishermen. When Portuguese sailors landed and asked the name of the place, the natives replied A-Ma-Gao (Bay of A Ma). In modern usage, Amagao was shortened to Macau.
The Portuguese settled in Macau between 1554 and 1557 during the great era of Portuguese exploration initiated by Prince Henry the Navigator. Jorge Alvares was the first Portuguese to set foot in Southern China in 1513 and this visit was followed by the establishment of a number of Portuguese trading centers in the area. These were eventually consolidated at Macau, which boomed with a virtual monopoly on trade between China and Japan, between both nations and Europe. But the establishment of Hong Kong in the 19th Century proved to be more competition than Macau could bear. Stripped of its importance as a center for trade, the territory survived as a center of scholarship, legalized gambling, and espionage and vice. After many centuries of administration by Portugal, Macau was given broad autonomy in 1974.
Throughout its years of history, Macau has proudly been the stronghold of Portuguese presence and culture in the Far East. The Portuguese flag was always flown in Macau, even during the Spanish occupation of Portugal, and D. João IV, King of Portugal, rewarded this act of faithfulness by granting Macau the title, "CITY OF THE NAME OF GOD, MACAU, THERE IS NONE MORE LOYAL".
Christianity was the dominant religion in Macau, and it was via Macau that the religion saw a massive expansion throughout Asia. A permanent attestation of the growth of Christianity is still seen in the majestic façade of St. Paul's Church of the Mother of God, or commonly known as the Ruins of Saint Paul.
The city of Macau has always been able to sustain its identity, resulting
from the encounter between two completely different cultures and civilizations:
Eastern and Western. Such harmonious co-existence and uniformity has resulted
in a concentration of cultural heritage, one of a kind in the entire Asia-Pacific
region, expected to last even after the Territory of Macau reverts to
Chinese rule on December 20, 1999. Today's Macau gets its revenues from
casinos, commerce, light industry, and tourism. On weekends and holidays,
Macau is filled with Hong Kong Chinese, who enjoy the gambling and slower,
more relaxed pace of life.
To date, the population of Macau is approximately 450,000, of which 95% are Chinese nationals and 5% Portuguese, Europeans, and other nationals.
A majority of the population live in the Macau peninsula. The two islands are places where people can go to relax, especially Coloane, which is the garden of the Territory, where there are lots of parks and greenery.
Portuguese and Chinese are the two official languages, with Cantonese as the most widely spoken. English is Macau's third language although it is generally used in trade, tourism, and commerce.
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