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.
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
in size - with more buildings on reclaimed land - and in the number and
diversity of its attractions. The greatest of these continues to be
unique society, with communities from the East and West complementing
other, and the many people who come to visit.
Macau Special Administrative
Region has an area of 29.5 sq. km, comprised of the Macau Peninsula 9.3
sq. km and connected to Mainland China), the islands of Taipa (6.8 sq.
km) and Coloane (7.6 sq. km) and the reclaimed area
the Border Gate (Portas
do Cerco) - the visitor can access Mainland China through the COTAI
Post. Immigration and Customs is located in the reclaimed area between
the islands of Taipa and Coloane.
is eight hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time.
total population is estimated
at around 549,500 . About 94% are ethnic Chinese, from different
namely Guangdong and Fujian. The remaining 6% includes Portuguese,
and other nationalities.
and Portuguese are the
official languages, Cantonese being most widely spoken. The official
are used in government departments in all official documents and
English is generally used in trade, tourism and commerce.
Pataca (MOP$) is divided into
100 avos and it is Macau's official currency. There are banknotes and
in the following denominations:
By the decision of the Government the Pataca is linked to the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). The exchange rate is MOP$103.20 = HK$100.00. There is an acceptable variation up to 10%. Roughly 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 US Dollar.
Foreign currency or travellers' cheques can be changed in hotels, banks and authorised exchange dealers located all around the city. If the visitor needs to change money outside the usual banking hours, there are 24 hours exchange counters operating in the Macau International Airport (Taipa Island) and in the Lisboa Hotel (Macau). Banks open normally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Most credit cards are accepted in many hotels, shops and restaurants.
are no restrictions on the
amount of currency, which can be brought in or taken out of the
Climate and clothing
The climate is fairly warm tropical climates. Annual average temperature is about 20ºC (68ºF) and ranges from 16ºC (50ºF) to 25ºC (77ºF). Humidity levels are high and average values vary between 73% and 90%. Annual rainfall is 1.778mm, mostly during summer.
Autumn (October - December) is the most pleasant season. Days are sunny and warm and humidity levels are low. Winter (January - March) is cold but sunny. In April humidity increases and from May to September the climate becomes hot, humid and rainy with occasional tropical storms (typhoons).
Warning signals for typhoons depend on the proximity of a tropical storm. If the signal 8 is hoisted, the bridges between Macau and Taipa will be closed while the lower level of the Sai Van Bridge remains open, and as a preventive measure, sea and air connections between Macau and Hong Kong as well as most flights will also be cancelled.
the summer, visitors are advised
to wear light cotton clothes. In winter some woolen clothes are
as well as a thicker jacket or even an overcoat. From March to May as
as from September to November nights are cooler and therefore a
or sweater will be useful.
water is supplied directly
from Mainland China and is purified. Chlorine is added for extra
Distilled drinking water is supplied in all hotel rooms and in
in Macau is at 220V,
50Hz. The power plugs used in Macau are of the three-pin, square-shaped
or round-shaped type. It is suggested to check before using an
Health and Hospitals
Vaccination certificates are required only in exceptional circumstances, either in Macau or through the region, where vaccinations are needed. Visitors are not advised to have any particular vaccinations.
Tap water is regularly checked and guaranteed by the Health Department according to international standards.
In a medical emergency, contact the S. Januário Hospital (Government) located in Estrada do Visconde de S. Januário, Macau (tel. 28313731) or the Kiang Wu Hospital (Private) located in Estrada Coelho do Amaral, Macau (tel. 28371333). Emergency services in these hospitals are open 24 hours. In less urgent cases visitors can go to any Health Centre in Macau or in the islands. The most central one is the Tap Seac Health Centre located between Rua do Campo and Av. Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida. Tel: (853) 2852 2232.
western medicine, visitors
can find several traditional chinese medicine doctors. Detailed
regarding Chinese Medicine can be obtained from the Macau Health
(tel.28562404) or Kiang Wu Hospital (tel. 28371333).
Safety and Security
is a very safe place. There
are police stations and reporting centres throughout the territory and
for emergency dial 999. There are also two new 24 hour emergency
numbers 110 and 112 meant to facilitate emergency calls by tourists
the mainland and abroad.
Media and Information
There are plenty of daily and weekly newspapers in Macau published in Chinese, Portuguese and English.
Moreover, there are several Chinese and Portuguese magazines published in Macau regarding several aspects of the life and culture in Macau and region: the 'Revista de Cultura', edited by the Cultural Institute (published quarterly and in two versions: Chinese version and Portuguese & English version). There is also a magazine named 'Macau', a periodical publication in Chinese, Portuguese and English versions. English and Chinese languages newspapers and periodicals from overseas are readily available at most local newspaper stands or in major hotels.
has its own Chinese and
Portuguese radio and TV stations: Teledifusão de Macau (TDM), while
Macau Cable TV provides its viewers with around 40 channels of diverse
you would like to use your
mobile phone while in Macau, please contact the information services
Besides, Hutchison Telecom Network is now providing the Mobile Tour Guide Service. Visitors can listen to the voice information service by dialing the Spot Code #83.
addition to the postal services,
Macau Post also provides Western Union money transfer service. You can
go to Macau Postal Savings where is located at Rua de Sé (behind
the headquarters of Macau Post). The opening hours are from 8:30am to
(Monday to Friday), on Saturday from 9:30am to 1:00pm, and on Sunday
2:30pm to 6:00pm. This service is also available in Central Post
Terminal Post Office, Airport Post Office, Ocean Gardens Post Office,
Post Office, Communications Museum Shop and eSignTrust Registration
For more information, please contact (853) 8396 8319 or visit http://www.macaucep.gov.mo.
Internet facilities are available at Macau Business Tourism Centre, public libraries and major hotels. You may also find several cyber-cafés all over the city. Website of Macau Central Library: http://www.library.gov.mo
addition, the Macau SAR Government
has provided citizens and visitors with free wireless Internet access -
GO", at 34 selected
locations. Available daily from 8:00am to 1:00am the
users can use a non-encrypted connection (network name wifigo) or
connection mode (network name wifigo-s). User name and password are
for 45 minutes per session in high density areas throughout the
For details, please visit: http://www.wifi.gov.mo
Tourism information office
Macau is doted with a very efficient tourist office, publishing an abundant litterature and maps. It also efficiently assists tours, sightseeing, restaurants and hotel reservations:
REVIEWS OF THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MACAU
REVIEW OF L'ATELIER DE JÖEL ROBUCHON HONG KONG & MACAU
MACAU: WELCOME TO THE NEW LAS VEGAS
SHOPPING IN MACAU
TRAVELLING BY AIR TO AND FROM HONG-KONG