Macau is one of two of China’s Special Administrative Zones along with Hong Kong. The Communist Party has direct oversight of both Hong Kong and Macau under the one country, two systems policy implemented by Deng Xiaoping. Macau, therefore, has its own political and economic systems although the Mainland provides foreign relations and military protection for the Special Administrative Region.
Macau is a former Portuguese colony but was signed back over to the Mainland in the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau in 1999. The Communist Party asserted that Macau will maintain its capitalistic system and way of life for fifty years, meaning that socialism with Chinese characteristics will not be implemented until 2049.
Also, known as Au Man, which translates to trading gate, Chinese fisherman and farmers first inhabited the city. The city gets its name Macau from the expression A Ma Gao or “place of A Ma”; A Ma is the goddess of Seafarers, thus creating an appropriate name for a port city. It is said that when a Portuguese trader first visited the port city and asked a Chinese fisherman the name of the city, the fisherman responded with Magao; he was standing in front of a temple designated to the goddess of the sea. Hence, this is how Portuguese traders came to call the city by the name Macau.
A 2011 Census taken in Macau estimated the total population to be 557,400 with 94% of the residents Chinese, and the remaining 6% being Portuguese or other nationalities. Cantonese and Portuguese are the two official languages of the city. Portuguese can be found on street signs throughout the city, but per Wikipedia only .6% of Macau residents speak the language in their homes. The Portuguese School of Macau is a high school that teaches all subjects in Portuguese and aims to help support the historic ties between Macau and Portugal. A total of 123 schools exist in Macau: 3 government-run Portuguese schools, 2 private Portuguese language schools, 17 government run language schools offering both Chinese and Portuguese and 101 private schools.
The Macau Special Administrative Zone also includes the islands of Taipai, Cotai and Colone. Three bridges connect Macau to Taipai. Cotai is the reclaimed land between Taipai and Colone that has become the mecca for Macau’s casino and hotel industries. Tapai and Colone are known for their pristine beaches and natural beauty.
One industry thriving in Macau is the gaming industry. In 2001, Macau’s government eased restrictions blocking foreign casinos from building properties in the SAR. Now, Macau’s casinos earn revenues that rival that of Las Vegas casinos and the tax revenue generated from gaming activities accounted for 70% of the government’s revenues.
Macau has one airport, Macau International Airport, located on the eastern end of Taipai Island. The airport has ten gates, duty free shopping, a restaurant, and a smoking lounge. Like Hong Kong, Macau has its own immigration policy so all passengers must pass through a customs check.
Once a year, the city becomes the site of the Macau Grand Prix, a street circuit race that is 3.8 miles long. In 2012, the Grand Prix included 1 motorcycle race, 1 Formula race, and 5 car races. Out of its 221 competitors, 32 countries were represented.