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Home Chinese Cities and Province Information Macao (Macau)

China Special Administrative Region (SAR)
Macau (Macao)

Macao (Macau) Special Administrative Region* (SAR)

macao, macau location, location map of macau
Macao (Macau) Location

  Area   32.8 square km
Population:   559,846 million (2009)
Coordinates:   22°06'-22°13'N  113°31'-113°35'E
Local Time:  
January Average  Temperature:   14.6°C (58.28°F)
July Average  Temperature:   28.5°C (83.3°F)
Average Frost Free Days:   276 days/year
Average Elevation:   10 meters
Annual Rainfall:   2,013 mm
Annual Sunshine:   1,828 hours
Phone Area Code:   853

* What is Special Administrative Regions (SAR)?

"Macao" or "Macau"?
There is a mixed use of the terms "Macao" and "Macau" in everyday use. "Macao" was an archaic Portuguese spelling; as Portuguese language evolved, "Macao" was gradually transformed into "Macau" and became widely used in modern Portuguese and English alike.

Since the handover in 1999, both "Macao" and "Macau" are officially recognized as correct English spellings, whereas "Macau" remains the official Portuguese spelling. However, "Macao" is relatively less used on the Internet.
Geography and Climate of Macao (Macau)

Brief History of Macao (Macau)
Fishermen from Fujian and farmers from Guangdong were the first known settlers in Macau, when it was known as Ou Mun, or "trading gate", because of its location at the mouth of the Pearl River downstream from Guangzhou (Canton). During ancient times port city was part of the Silk Road with ships loading here with silk for Rome.

Even after China ceased to be a world trade centre, Guangzhou prospered from seaborne business with the countries of Southeast Asia, so the local entrepreneurs welcomed the arrival of Portuguese merchant-explorers. They followed in the wake of Jorge Alvares, who landed in southern China in 1513, and set about finding suitable trading posts.

In the early 1550s the Portuguese reached Ou Mun, which the locals also called A Ma Gao, "place of A Ma", in honour of the Goddess of Seafarers, whose temple stood at the entrance to the sheltered Inner Harbour. The Portuguese adopted the name, which gradually changes into the name Macau, and with the permission of Guangdong's mandarins, established a city that within a short time had become a major entrepot for trade between China, Japan, India and Europe.

It also became the perfect crossroad for the meeting of East and West cultures. The Roman Catholic church sent some of its greatest missionaries to continue the work of St Francis Xavier, (who died nearby after making many converts in Japan). A Christian college was built, beside what is now today's Ruins of St Paul's, where students such as Matteo Ricci prepared for their work as Christian scholars at the Imperial Court in Beijing. Other churches were built, as well as fortresses, which gave the city an historical European appearance that distinguishes it to this day.

Portugal's golden age in Asia faded as rivals like the Dutch and British took over their trade. However the Chinese chose to continue to do business through the Portuguese in Macau, so for over a century the British East India Company and others set up shop here in rented houses like the elegant Casa Garden. As Europe's trade with China grew, the European merchants spent part of the year in Guangzhou, buying tea and Chinese luxuries at the bi-annual fairs, using Macau as a recreational retreat.

Following the Opium War in 1841, Hong Kong was established by Britain and most of the foreign merchants left Macau, which became a quaint, quiet backwater. Nevertheless it has continued to enjoy a leisurely multicultural existence and make daily, practical use of its historical buildings, in the process becoming a favourite stopover for international travellers, writers and artists.

Macau has developed in the past industries such as textiles, electronics and toys, while today has built up world class tourism industry with a wide choice of hotels, resorts, MICE facilities, restaurants and casinos. Macau's economy is closely linked to that of Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, in particular the Pearl River Delta region, which qualifies as one of Asia's 'little tigers'. Macau provides financial and banking services, staff training, transport and communications support.

Today Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, and, like Hong Kong, benefits from the principle of "one country, two systems". The tiny SAR is growing in size - with more buildings on reclaimed land - and in the number and diversity of its attractions. The greatest of these continues to be Macau's unique society, with communities from the East and West complementing each other, and the many people who come to visit.

(source: Macau Government Tourist Office)
Macao (Macau) Local Products, Shopping
Macau shopping bargains include Chinese antiques, leather, and a delicious array of Portuguese wines and ports. Others enjoy purchasing dried seafood, Chinese herbs and medicines, and Macanese pastries as gifts for friends. Cameras and electronics are also available at bargain prices, although - as with jewelry and antiques - it is wise to ask for a warranty or guarantee when purchasing them, particularly if the brand is not familiar. Porcelains and fine ceramics are also popular buys in Macao. Some factories will even custom make a vase or set of tableware with your family crest, or in a pattern copied from your curtains.

Clothing: Macau has 500 active garment factories, and overruns and seconds can be found in shops and market stalls, for a small percentage of what they would cost in the world's leading boutiques.

Gold: Macao is a free port, so items are bought at duty-free prices, and no sales tax applies. Gold never goes out of style, and is one of the most popular buys in Macao, with jewelry shops everywhere offering gold in different grades.
(source:, China Internet Information Center)

Macao (Macau)  Local Cuisine
Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions: Macao (Macau)
The Ruins of St. Paul's (also known as Sam Ba Sing Tzik) stands adjacent to the famous Mount Fortress and Macao Museum. The front façade and the grand stone stairs are the only remains of the greatest church in Macau. First constructed in 1580, St. Paul's Church caught fires in 1595 and 1601. However, reconstruction started in 1602 soon after the church was burnt down. Completed in 1637, the church became the biggest Catholic Church in East Asia at that time. Unfortunately, a violent typhoon hit Macau in 1835 and the church caught fire for the third time leaving its glory a history. According to historical materials, St Paul's Church, built with white stones, had a grand vaulted roof. It had three magnificently decorated halls. Built with granites, Sam Ba Sing Tzik has a baroque facade rich in ornamentation but with classic oriental characteristics. From the bottom up, the structure has five tiers. The first tier is comprised of ten Ionic columns with three entrances. The entrance in the middle has 'MATER DEI' carved into it. The two entrances on each side are decorated with bas-reliefs in the pattern of 'HIS'. The second tier features ten Corinthian columns with three windows. A Catholic saint is enshrined in each of four tabernacles between columns. The two tiers as a whole is said to represent the Society of Jesus and the activities of missionaries. The remaining three tiers are the most decorated. The statue of Madonna stands in the middle of the third tier, while the statue of Jesus stands on the fourth. The walls are covered with bas-reliefs in various patterns like devils, angels, symbols of crucifixion, a Portuguese sailing ship, etc. The triangular combination of the upper three tiers reflects the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary. A cross stands at the coping of the wall. It is worth mentioning that the stone lions at the sides of the third and fourth tiers are distinctively Chinese. There are also bas-reliefs in designs of chrysanthemum and cherry, as well as Chinese inscriptions. The surviving façade has long been acknowledged as a perfect fusion of western and eastern cultures. The Ruins of St. Paul's has been restored during 1990 and 1995. The Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt was also built at that time. It has exhibitions of religions artworks including paintings, sculptures and statues.

A Ma Temple: Macau's name is derived from A-Ma-Gau or Place of A-Ma and this temple dedicated to the seafarers' goddess dates from the early 16th century. According to legend, A-Ma, a poor girl looking for passage to Canton, was refused by the wealthy junk owners but a lowly fisherman took her on board. A storm blew up and wrecked all but the boat carrying the girl. On arrival in Macao she vanished, to reappear as a goddess, on the spot where the fishermen built her temple. It consists of prayer halls, pavilions and courtyards built into the boulder-strewn hill and connected by winding paths through moon gates and tiny gardens. At the entrance is a large rock on which is engraved a traditional sailing junk. On other boulders are carved red characters invoking the gods or repeating a prayer. Three of the four pavilions are dedicated to A-Ma and contain some fine statues of the goddess together with a model of a junk with cannons, brass vessels and chapels to Buddhist and Taoist gods. The top shrine honours Kun Iam. This temple is distinguished by beautiful tiled roofs and spectacular views from the upper gardens. The festival of A-Ma takes place on the 23rd day of the 3rd moon (April or May). Firecrackers, to scare away evil spirits, are exploded in the entrance courtyard to greet tour groups and lions dances are performed here on weekends.

The Senado Square is paved with a wave-patterned mosaic of colored stones, created by Portuguese experts. From the main road to the church of St. Dominic, the pavement extends to the ruins of St. Paul's, making the heart of the city a pedestrian paradise.

The Handover Gifts Museum of Macao is located next to the Macao Cultural Centre in Avenida Xian Xing Hai (NAPE), the very same area that was used for the Handover Ceremony on 20th December 1999 in which Macau was returned to the Mainland. When the hall was dismantled after the ceremony the area became part of the Macao Cultural Centre. The handover gifts exhibition gallery mainly exhibits the handover gifts presented by the State Council of The People's Republic of China, its country-wide provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The special exhibition gallery will be used to hold different exhibits, which are mainly themed on the local culture and history of Macao. The museum is closed on Mondays and open on public holidays. Free admission.

Lou Kau Mansion: Built in 1889, during the Qing dynasty, Lou Kau Mansion in Travessa da Se No.7, an alley off Senado Square was the former residence of the Lou Kau family until 1910. The grey two-storey brick house is one of the very few xinguan-style mansions still standing in Macao, and a prime example of the mixed Chinese and Western architectural styles unique to Macao. The oyster shell windows, hanging scrolls, plaster molding and brick carvings are commonly found in the central Guangdong Province. But false ceilings, stained glass Manzhou windows and cast iron railings are Western characteristics. On the ground floor, there are two courtyards separating three main halls on the ground level, the Entrance Hall, Tea Hall and Senior Hall which is reserved for more senior members of the family. Despite the fact a lot of time and money was spent on workmanship, the Lou Kau Mansion actually fell into disrepair in the 1970s with up to 20 families living in it at one point in time. In July 2002, the Cultural Institute of the Macao SAR restored Lou Kau Mansion to its original glory and it is now open to the public with regular exhibitions of Chinese arts and free guided tours. Lou Ka, a businessman made a fortune through his money exchange business Bou Hong Bank, was heavily involved in philanthropy, launching schools, rebuilding ancestral temples and selling rice to the public at a low prices. He was knighted by the King of Portugal in 1890 and also has a street in Macao – Lou Kau Street – named after him.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen's Memorial House: Sun Yat Sen was the mentor and driving force of the Chinese republican revolution, which overthrew the weak regime of the Qing Dynasty. A charismatic personality that unites the Chinese soul, he is therefore considered as the "Father of the Nation". This place bears witness to his short but significant stay in Macao in the beginning of the century when, while fleeing the power of the imperial mandarins, he tried to move his supporters in order to establish a new regime in China. In Macao he received the support of some friends, at the time important and powerful persons in the political and social life of Macao.

Na Tcha temple was built in 1888 and dedicated to Na Cha in an attempt to halt the Plague rampaging at the time. In contrast to buildings such as the Ruins of St. Paul's around it, the Na Tcha Temple is only a small structure, built with simple materials, but the use of a mixture of reality and illusion in its design manages successfully to create a sense of delicacy and exquisiteness.

Guia Fortress, built in 1637-38, occupies the top of Guia Hill, the highest point in Macau. It was designed to defend Macao from attacks from the sea, but because of its position overlooking the entire city, its chief value has been as an observation post. It originally contained barracks, a water cistern, ammunition and equipment stores, the commander's house, and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guia. Today the Fort's most prominent feature is the lighthouse, built in 1865 and the oldest on the China coast. It is 91 meters high and has a light which can be seen for around 20 miles in clear weather. Near the lighthouse is the chapel which contains an image of the Virgin Mary, a few antique pictures, and vestiges of paintings that date back to the construction of the chapel in 1626. Also nearby is a post where signals are hoisted to warn of an approaching typhoon. In earlier times storm warnings were announced from the bell-tower of the chapel.

Kuan Tai Temple is situated on the site of the old Macao bazaar, whose sign still exists. Originally it was a meeting place for merchants, and was very important to the local Chinese community. Prior to the establishment of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Macao in 1912, the area surrounding the temple was the centre of Chinese trading in Macao. After the decline of the bazaar, the temple rose to importance in this area.

St. Dominic's Church: Standing on the site of a chapel and convent built by the Dominicans in the 1590's St. Dominic's Church dates from the early 17th century. It has an imposing facade of cream-colored stone with white stucco moldings and green-shutter windows. Inside, white pillars support a flat ceiling and apron balconies trim the walls. The great baroque alter contains a cream and white statue of the Virgin and Child and a painting of Christ. The church has a fine collection of exquisitely-carved ivory and wood saints. St. Dominic's Church has a violently dramatic past. In 1644 a military officer who supported the Spanish against the Portuguese was murdered at the alter during Mass. In 1707 the Dominicans sided with the Pope against Macau's bishop in the Rites Controversy. When local soldiers tried to enforce an excommunication order on them, the friars locked themselves in the church for three days and pelted the soldiers with stones. In 1834 the monastic orders were suppressed and for a time the church was used by the government as barracks, stable and public works office. St.Dominic's Church was renovated in 1997 and opened to the public with a museum, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor. The museum shows paintings, sculptures and liturgical ornaments that illustrate the history of the Roman Catholic church in Asia.

(source:, China Internet Information Center)



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 China's Administrative Divisions
4 Municipalities

23 Provinces

5 Autonomous Regions

2 Special Administrative Regions (SAR)

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