Facts about Macau

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Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999. In this agreement, China promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system would not be practiced in Macau, and that Macau would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.

Geography of Macau

Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
22 10 N, 113 33 E
total: 25.4 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 25.4 sq km
Area comparative:
about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
total: 0.34 km
border countries: China 0.34 km
41 km
Maritime claims:
not specified
subtropical; marine with cool winters, warm summers
generally flat
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Coloane Alto 172.4 m
Natural resources:
Natural hazards:
Geography - note:
essentially urban; one causeway and two bridges connect the two islands of Coloane and Taipa to the peninsula on mainland

Population of Macau

545,674 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 16.2% (male 37,934/female 35,412)
15-64 years: 75.9% (male 163,975/female 179,830)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 15,099/female 20,875)
Median age:
36.1 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
4.35 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 82.19 years
male: 79.36 years
female: 85.17 years
Fertility rate:
1.02 children born/woman
noun: Chinese
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups:
Chinese 95.7%, Macanese (mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry) 1%, other 3.3%
Buddhist 50%, Roman Catholic 15%, none and other 35% 
Cantonese 87.9%, Hokkien 4.4%, Mandarin 1.6%, other Chinese dialects 3.1%, other 3%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total : 94.5%
male: 97.2%
female: 92%


Country name:
conventional long form: Macau Special Administrative Region
local short form: Aomen (Chinese); Macau (Portuguese)
local long form: Aomen Tebie Xingzhengqu (Chinese); Regiao Administrativa Especial de Macau (Portuguese)
Dependency status:
special administrative region of China
Government type:
limited democracy
National holiday:
National Day (Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October (1949); note - 20 December 1999 is celebrated as Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
Basic Law, approved in March 1993 by China's National People's Congress, is Macau's "mini-constitution"
Legal system:
based on Portuguese civil law system
direct election 18 years of age, universal for permanent residents living in Macau for the past seven years; indirect election limited to organizations registered as "corporate voters" (257 are currently registered) and a 300-member Election Committee drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organizations, and central government bodies
Executive branch:
chief of state: President of China HU Jintao (since 15 March 2003)
head of government: Chief Executive Edmund HO Hau-wah (since 20 December 1999)
cabinet: Executive Council consists of one government secretary, three legislators, four businessmen, one pro-Beijing unionist, and one pro-Beijing educator
elections: chief executive chosen by a 300-member Election Committee for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 29 August 2004.
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Assembly (29 seats; 12 elected by popular vote, 10 by indirect vote, and 7 appointed by the chief executive; members serve four-year terms).
Judicial branch:
The Court of Final Appeal in the Macau Special Administrative Region


Macau's economy has enjoyed strong growth in recent years on the back of its expanding tourism and gaming sectors. Since opening up its locally-controlled casino industry to foreign competition in 2001, the territory has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment that have helped transform it into the world's largest gaming center. In 2006, Macau's gaming revenue surpassed that of the Las Vegas strip, and gaming-related taxes accounted for 75% of total government revenue. The expanding casino sector, and China's decision beginning in 2002 to relax travel restrictions, have reenergized Macau's tourism industry, which saw total visitors grow to 27 million in 2007, up 62% in three years. Macau's strong economic growth has put pressure its labor market prompting businesses to look abroad to meet their staffing needs. The resulting influx of non-resident workers, who totaled one-fifth of the workforce in 2006, has fueled tensions among some segments of the population. Macau's traditional manufacturing industry has been in a slow decline. In 2006, exports of textiles and garments generated only $1.8 billion compared to $6.9 billion in gross gaming receipts. Macau's textile industry will continue to move to the mainland because of the termination in 2005 of the Multi-Fiber Agreement, which provided a near guarantee of export markets, leaving the territory more dependent on gambling and trade-related services to generate growth. However, the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Macau and mainland China that came into effect on 1 January 2004 offers many Macau-made products tariff-free access to the mainland. Macau's currency, the Pataca, is closely tied to the Hong Kong dollar, which is also freely accepted in the territory.

$12.5 billion (2006)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
purchasing power parity - $19,400
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 12%
services: 87% 
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
manufacturing 13.7%, construction 10.5%, transport and communications 5.9%, wholesale and retail trade 14.6%, restaurants and hotels 10.3%, gambling 17.9%, public sector 7.8%, other services and agriculture 19.3% 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
tourism, gambling, clothing, textiles, electronics, footwear, toys
only 2% of land area is cultivated, mainly by vegetable growers; fishing, mostly for crustaceans, is important; some of the catch is exported to Hong Kong
clothing, textiles, footwear, cement, machines, and parts
Export partners:
US 49.2%, Hong Kong 12.2%, China 11.1%, Germany 6.5% 
raw materials and semi-manufactured goods, consumer goods (foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco), capital goods, mineral fuels and oils
Import partners:
China 32.3%, Hong Kong 27.8%, Chile 18.7% 
pataca (MOP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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