conventional long form: Macau
Special Administrative Region
conventional short form: Macau
local long form: Aomen Tebie Xingzhengqu (Chinese); Regiao
Administrativa Especial de Macau (Portuguese)
local short form: Aomen (Chinese); Macau (Portuguese)
Besides the city itself, Macau includes
the island with Taipa and Coloane, which are connected by bridges
and a causeway. The mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai borders Macau to
the North, and the border crossing carries heavy two-way vehicular
and pedestrian traffic. The Zhuhai Special Economic Zone extends
south to the island of Hengqin, an area west of Taipa, Cotai and
Coloane; the Lotus Bridge from Cotai connects to that area. There is
significant movement by the local population of both Zhuhai and
Macau across the border, making the two feel like twin cities.
total: 25.4 sq km
land: 25.4 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Cantonese is the most commonly spoken language of Macau (88%, 2001
census). Mandarin is also spoken by a significant number, especially
by the educated and those working in the tourism industry. While most
locals can comprehend Mandarin to a certain degree, many are not
fluent in it and do not feel comfortable speaking it.
English is spoken, especially by people in the tourism business.
Nearly all museums and casinos have some staff with excellent English.
So do many hotels, shops and restaurants, especially the up-market
ones. However, English is not as widespread as in Hong Kong, and you
will encounter plenty of people with little or no English (in fact,
according to the 2001 census about half the population don't speak
anything but Cantonese). This includes many taxi drivers and bus
drivers, so be sure to have your hotel name in Chinese with you if you
travel on your own, and have a good bus route map.
Speakers of Portuguese won't find it very useful when talking to local
residents (in the 2001 census, less than 1% of the population
indicated it as their "usual language"), but it helps a lot in
understanding place names and signs. Knowing any Romance language
(French, Spanish or Italian) helps some.
All official signs in Macau are in both traditional Chinese and
Portuguese. Note that under the "one country two systems" policy, like
Hong Kong, Macau continues to use traditional Chinese characters and
not the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China.
Macau located at the west bank of Pearl River Delta in South China, is
the intersection of Mainland China and South China Sea. It is also
located at the south of tropic of Cancer. The winds directions in
winter and summer are opposite. Therefore, Macau is in the monsoon
region and from the climate classification is considered mild and
rainy in summer. The most comfortable period begins from the middle of
October to December.
The winter season in Macau covers the months January and February. The
cold air from north Siberia continuously passes through the Mid and
South China into Macau region and brings us cold and dry northerly
winds. The urban temperature sometimes drops below 10??C. Therefore,
the annual minimum temperature is generally recorded in these two
months. When the precipitation and rainy days are less it is because
there is lack of water vapour in the atmosphere.
March and April is the seasonal interchange period. The wind direction
along the coastal region of South China is mainly easterly to
southeasterly, which will increase the temperature and humidity.
Beside some occasional wet weather, fog, drizzle and low visibility
days, the weather is mainly fine in spring.
The summer in Macau is longer than the other seasons. Because of hot
and wet conditions, the bad weather such as thunderstorm and heavy
rain always occur from May to September. Waterspout can be seen
Meanwhile from May to October, tropical cyclones occur frequently
which make the highest records of precipitation, temperature, rainy
days and thunderstorms. As local tropical cyclones number 8 typhoon
signal is hoisted the sea and air transports are suspended.
The autumn begins at October, at that time the mainland China becomes
cool. The autumn season in Macau is very short, the weather is stable
and comfortable with clear sky. It finally returns to the cool and dry
November. The cold air from the north will intrude periodically in
Though a small economy, Macao pursues an open economic policy. It
boasts one of the lowest tax regimes in the Asia Pacific region and
sound financial stability. As a free port and a separate tariff zone,
which has no foreign exchange controls, Macao is an active player in
the regional economy and a vital link between the mainland Chinese and
The Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) has maintained rapid
growth since its establishment, with its economy growing by an average
of 14 percent in real terms annually between 2000 and 2008. This is a
turnaround from consecutive negative growth in the four years to 1999.
Macao’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 141.17 billion patacas
in 2008 at constant prices of 2002, which is 3.1 times the 1999
figure. This translates into US$39,000 of GDP per capita in 2008 – one
of the highest in Asia. As of the end of 2008, the MSAR’s foreign
reserves had reached 127.2 billion patacas.
Macao’s small-scale economy is characterised by its openness and
flexibility and enjoys a unique position in the regional economy. It
used to be largely dependent on export trade, but the services sector
is playing an increasingly bigger role as the processing industry
tries to adapt itself to changing times.
Macao is one of two international free ports in China. Goods, capital,
foreign exchange and people flow freely in and out of Macao. Since the
establishment of the MSAR Government, economic policy in Macao has
focused primarily on protecting and streamlining its free market
economic system. It has cultivated a world-recognised, free and open,
fair and orderly market environment.
In April 2007, the World Trade Organization (WTO) released a trade
policy review of Macao, a study that takes place every six years. The
report recognised Macao’s economic achievements over the past six
years and its optimistic prospects for future development, and
reaffirmed the openness of its economy. This is the MSAR’s second WTO
trade policy review since the previous one in 2001.
According to the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom released in January by
the US-based Heritage Foundation, Macao was ranked sixth in the Asia
Pacific region for the first time and ranked number 21 among 179
Capitalising on its unique advantages, the MSAR strives to strengthen
economic cooperation and develop into an international trade services
platform for the region. It aims to give full play to its longstanding
ties with the Asia Pacific region, the European Union, Romance
language-speaking countries and especially Portuguese-speaking
countries, thereby cementing its role as the bridge between mainland
China and these economies.
The Gaming Industry
Gaming industry has a long history in Macao and it was first legalised
in mid 19th century. Entering the 21st century, the gaming industry
has developed a very close relation with the tourism industry and
become a pillar of Macao's economy.
In 2002, the MSAR Government liberalised the gaming industry, bringing
new momentum to Macao’s gaming sector and the entire economy. Through
appropriate competition and modern operating and management models,
the Government also expected the new arrangements to create more job
opportunities. Before the Handover, the gaming industry’s maximum
annual gross revenue was 17.78 billion patacas (US$2.22 billion). In
2008, the industry’s total gross revenue increased to 109.83 billion
patacas (US$13.73 billion), ranking No. 1 in the world. The sector
contributed 41.9 billion patacas (US$5.24 billion) in direct tax,
representing 73 percent of Macao’s total public finances that year.
From January to October 2009, the gaming industry’s gross revenue
totalled 96.62 billion patacas (US$12.08 billion).
clothing, textiles, footwear, cement,
machines, and parts
clothing, textiles, yarn, foodstuffs,
fuel, automobiles, capital goods
The currency of Macau is the pataca (MOP), which is divided into
100 avos. There are about 8 patacas to the US dollar.