Macao, or Macau, is a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China, the most densely populated region in the world.

The population is 653,100 people (as of December 31, 2017). Official languages: Portuguese and Chinese (predominantly Cantonese).

The Macau Special Administrative Region was formed on December 20, 1999 as a result of the liquidation of the Portuguese colony of Macau and became one of two special administrative regions of the PRC (the other is Hong Kong). Prior to that, for 442 years, since 1557, Macau was ruled by Portugal, it was the oldest European colony in East Asia. The Basic Law was approved by the National People's Congress in March 1993 and is based on the principle of "one country - two systems", that is, on maintaining two different economic and legal systems within the framework of a single Chinese state. As part of the PRC, Macau has significant autonomy: its own laws, legal, monetary, customs and immigration systems, as well as the right to participate in international organizations.


How to get there

Macau has its own visa policy, separate from both mainland China and Hong Kong, and even more so from any other countries. Macau's border with the rest of China is a full-fledged interstate with all the necessary procedures: if you want to leave China for Macau and then return back, you will need at least a double-entry Chinese visa.

For a trip of up to 30 days, citizens of Russia and Belarus do not need a visa (for a complete list of visa-free countries in Macau and the length of stay allowed for their citizens, see here). With multiple entries and exits, migration officials may reduce the period of permitted stay in Macau. Passport is not stamped at the border, instead an immigration card is issued.

Citizens of countries requiring a visa in Macau (with the exception of citizens of several Third World countries, see link above) can obtain one upon arrival by paying a visa fee of MOP 100 (MOP 50 for children under 12). A multivisa is issued for a period of 30 days.



The official languages are Portuguese and Chinese (Cantonese).



The currency of the Special Administrative Region is the Macau Pataca (MOP).



The international dialing code for Macau is +853. Internet domain .mo



Macau is located on the coast of the South China Sea, in the Pearl River Delta. It includes the territory of the Macau Peninsula, the islands of Taipa and Coloane, with a total area of 30.8 km². Across the strait it borders the metropolis of Zhuhai.

The Macau Peninsula is formed by the estuary of the river. Zhujiang (Pearl) in the east and the river. Xijiang in the west. The surface is mostly flat, formed as a result of the gradual reconquest of land from the sea. Numerous steep hills are a remnant of the former relief. The peninsula used to be an island, but in the 17th century it was connected to the mainland. Both other islands are connected to Macau by a road and two bridges. Most of the territory is built up, there are no agricultural lands, pastures and forests, but green spaces occupy 22.4%. The maximum height above sea level is 172.4 m.



Macau is located, according to Alisov's classification, on the border of the subtropical and subequatorial zones, and according to the Köppen classification, in the humid subtropical climate zone, the average temperature in January is above +14 °C, and in July about +28 °C. Over 2100 mm of precipitation falls annually.



The oldest discovered traces of the South Chinese culture date back to 4-2 thousand BC. e. on about. Coloane - 3 thousand BC e. From the time of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the territory of Macau was part of its Guangdong province. Since at least the 5th century, merchant ships sailing between Guangzhou and Southeast Asia have used the area as a stopover. In 1277, representatives of the Chinese Song dynasty and their followers found refuge in Macau, who fled south from the Mongol conquest. They formed the first permanent population of the territory and managed to gain a foothold on it. At this time, the oldest temple of Wanxia, dedicated to the Buddhist goddess Guanyin, was built. Subsequently, the Hakka Chinese showed interest in Macau as a trading center for the southern provinces. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), fishermen from various regions of the Guangdong and Fujian provinces moved to Macau. They built the temple of A-ma, from which the name "Macao" is derived. Another Chinese name "Aomen" is reminiscent of two towering hills - Nantai and Beitai.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Macau remained a small settlement. In 1513, the Portuguese landed for the first time at the mouth of the Pearl River, and in 1517-1518 they found themselves in the neighborhood of Haojingao. This caused dissatisfaction with the Chinese authorities, and in 1521 the Portuguese were expelled from the coast of Guangdong. However, after a shipwreck in 1536, merchants from Portugal appeared in Haojingao. In 1553, the Portuguese founded their trading post in Macau.

European attempts to settle on other islands off the southern coast of China failed, but Macau prospered. The Portuguese used it as a base for trading with Guangzhou and other regions of China, as well as with Japan (after the Ming Dynasty banned direct Chinese trade with this country, the Portuguese used Macau as a stopover for sailing to Nagasaki). Portuguese and Chinese merchants settled in Macau; developed trade with India and Southeast Asia. In 1557, Portugal obtained the consent of the Chinese authorities to grant it this territory in exchange for paying tribute, and in the same year a fortified settlement was erected, which became administratively part of Portuguese India. Officially, sovereignty over Macau still belonged to China, the Chinese inhabitants were subject to imperial laws, and Portugal from 1573 made rent payments for the territory.

Beginning in 1563, the Jesuits were active in Macau. However, in the early years, the success of the missionaries in converting the Chinese to Christianity was very limited, because instead of learning the Chinese language and “getting used to” Chinese culture themselves, they wanted the Chinese to learn to speak and live in Portuguese. Although missionaries occasionally visited the Chinese "mainland" outside of Macau (mainly the port city of Guangzhou, where the Portuguese from Macau were allowed to travel for regular fairs), none of them managed to settle there for any length of time. The radical turning point in this situation is associated with the name of the leader of the Jesuits in the Far East, Alessandro Valignano, who, having arrived in Macau in 1578, pointed out the need for the Jesuits in China to follow the example of their colleagues working in Japan and India, that is, to start with the development of oral and the written language of the country where they want to do missionary work. At his request, the Jesuit Order sent talented priests Michele Ruggieri (1579) and Matteo Ricci (1582) to Macau, who seriously took up the Chinese language and were able to move inland in 1583 to the city of Zhaoqing. From this humble beginning, a Jesuit organization grew in China, with Macao as its base for more than two centuries.

Gradually, the Portuguese began to expand the boundaries of their possession. In 1582, the first land lease agreement was signed with the neighboring Chinese county of Xiangshan (now Zhongshan). In 1586, Macau received the rights of urban self-government. The Dutch attacks forced the Portuguese authorities to build a fortress without asking permission from China. Only in 1670 did the Chinese authorities recognize the city.

In 1640, after the separation of Portugal from Spain, the Portuguese royal dynasty awarded Macau the official title of "the most loyal city of the holy name of God" (Cidade do Santo Nomi de Deus de Macau). In 1680, the first Portuguese governor was appointed. In 1685, China officially recognized Macau as a port for foreign trade, but continued to insist on its sovereignty by charging land fees and customs duties.

In the 17th century, the Portuguese actively drained the maritime territories. The former island of Macau, which was connected to the mainland only by a narrow sandy isthmus, has turned into a real peninsula. Stone buildings were built, the house of mercy, which was founded in 1568 by the first missionaries, was rebuilt, the Sao Paulo Cathedral and other buildings were erected.

In the 17th-19th centuries, Macau was still the most important center of Portuguese trade with China, Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Goa and Mexico. But after the collapse of the Portuguese maritime dominion in the middle of the XVII century. the city lost its commercial hegemony. Subsequently, the decline in the importance of Macau was due to the capture of Hong Kong by Great Britain, as well as the opening of Chinese ports for foreign trade after 1842.

On April 20, 1844, Macau was removed from the control of the authorities of the Portuguese India and passed into the control of the administration of the Portuguese colony of Timor. China continued to consider it as its territory and even signed a treaty of peace, friendship and trade with the United States in the city in 1844. The Wanxia Temple was used by Chinese officials to supervise foreigners. But in 1845, Portugal, taking advantage of the weakening of China after the defeat in the first Opium War, declared Macau a free port and expelled Chinese officials and soldiers. However, by this time, the importance of Macau in international trade had fallen sharply, due to the creation of Hong Kong.

In 1849, the colonial authorities stopped paying rents, abolished Chinese customs, and proclaimed the separation of the territory from China. China retaliated: Governor Ferreira do Amaral was assassinated. In the same year, Portugal occupied about. Wanzhai to the west of the Macau Peninsula, but cleared it in 1887. In 1851 and 1864, the Portuguese annexed the islands of Taipa and Coloane to their possessions. Treaty of Tientsin (Chinese)rus. 1862 recognized Macau as a Portuguese colony, but China never ratified it. In 1887, both countries signed the Protocol of Lisbon, which confirmed the "permanent occupation and administration" of Macau by Portugal, with the latter undertaking "never to alienate Macau and dependent territories without the consent of China." Taipa and Coloane also ceded to Portugal, but the border on the continent was not agreed upon. The New Treaty of Trade and Friendship (1888) recognized Portuguese sovereignty over Macau, but China did not ratify it again. In 1890, Fr. Ilha Verdi (Qingzhou), which in 1923 was connected to the Macau Peninsula as a result of reclaiming land from the sea. In 1897, Macau received the status of a separate colony of Portugal.

In 1922, clashes between the Chinese population and the Portuguese authorities took place in Macau, accompanied by a strike of Chinese workers and a boycott of Portuguese goods. In April 1928, the Chinese Foreign Ministry notified Portugal of the termination of the 1887 agreement, but Lisbon did not recognize this declaration.

With the Japanese capture of Guangzhou in 1938 and Hong Kong in December 1941, Macau remained the last neutral port in South China. This was the reason for a short period of economic growth of the colony. In 1943, Japan established forceful control over the territory. Only after the end of World War II, Macau again came under the jurisdiction of Portugal.

In the post-war period, the colony was still governed by a governor appointed from Lisbon. The city of Macau was divided into two parts - European and Chinese, and each had a separate administrator. Education in schools was also conducted separately for Europeans and Chinese.

After the proclamation of the People's Republic of China (1949), its government declared the Lisbon Protocol of 1887 invalid. It demanded the return of the territory to China and expressed its willingness to resolve this issue at the appropriate time through negotiations with Portugal. But Lisbon was not going to give up his possession. In 1951, Macau was declared an "overseas province" of Portugal.

In 1966, riots broke out in Macau. The Chinese Students' Association, which was influenced by the "cultural revolution" in the PRC, demanded that the head of the Portuguese police be punished, that the repression be stopped and that it not be repeated in the future. China has expressed support for these demands. Portuguese governor José Nobre de Carvalho (Chinese)rus. (1966-1974) was preparing to evacuate, but the crisis was resolved on the basis of a compromise. On December 12, the governor accepted the demands; The Portuguese authorities agreed to shut down the pro-Taiwan organizations and the Association for Aid to Refugees from the Continent. In order to force Macau to fulfill its promises, the PRC cut the supply of drinking water by half in January 1967, which dealt a heavy blow to the colony's economy. Chinese residents of Macau announced a boycott of the Portuguese: they were no longer allowed into transport, shops and restaurants. The Chinese stopped paying taxes, providing services to the Portuguese and selling goods to them. On January 29, 1967, the Portuguese governor was forced to make an official apology to the Chinese; According to the signed agreement, Portugal returned 32 refugees to China. The commander of the Portuguese garrison and the chief of police were recalled to Lisbon.

After the victory in 1974 of the democratic revolution in Portugal, Macau received broad administrative, economic and financial autonomy. In the spring of 1976, the Legislative Assembly was established. Most of its members are elected by the population, and the Portuguese governor heads the work of the Legislative Assembly. Since 1989, the city parliament of Macau has been functioning with 13 members (3 are appointed by the governor, 10 are elected). Executive power in Macau is exercised by the government, which consists of seven departments (ministries).

In February 1979, Portugal and the PRC established diplomatic relations, and China recognized Macau as "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration". In 1980, the Portuguese Governor Melu Egidio (1979-1981) visited China for the first time; both sides were now determined to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the problem of Macau. On May 20, 1986, China and Portugal signed a joint communiqué calling for negotiations. From June 1986 to March 1987, 4 rounds of negotiations were held, and on April 13, 1987, a joint declaration on the issue of Macau was signed in Beijing. It provided for its transformation into a special administrative region of the PRC from December 20, 1999 for a period of 50 years. In March 1993, the National People's Congress approved the basic law of the future district.

As part of the gradual expansion of self-government, municipal parliaments were established in 1989 in Macau and the islands; most of their members were Chinese. In May 1991, the government of Macau (Executive Council) began to work, consisting of 7 departments. Then the number of members of the Legislative Assembly was increased to 23 (of which 8 were directly elected). 9 deputies were Chinese. In the assembly elections in 1996, candidates representing the interests of business circles won: they won 4 seats, the representation of pro-Chinese political groups was reduced from 4 to 3, and democratic groups - from 2 to 1 seat. By agreement with China, the term of office of the assembly was extended until 2001.

The PRC authorities have approved billionaire Edmund Ho (English) Russian, one of the leaders of the largest Typhoon Bank, as the head of the executive branch of the future special region. In anticipation of Macau's handover to China, steps were taken to somewhat curb the rise in organized crime that had hit the area hard in the 1990s. One of the gangster bosses, Wan Guokhui, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On December 20, 1999, in accordance with the 1987 agreement, Macau was transferred to the PRC.