Map of Macau,China map, Macau map Guangdong

Macau Province

Name (ào mén) ['bay' 'entrance']
CapitalMacau City
Population0.6362 million (0.05 %) [33rd last] comparison table
Area1,000 km2 [386 mile2] (0.01 %) [32nd]
GDP513,427 (1.31 %) [1st]
Position of Macau in China
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Google map of Macau
Beijing Tianjin Shanghai Hong Kong Xinjiang Tibet Qinghai Gansu Inner Mongolia Heilongjiang Jilin Liaoning Yunnan Sichuan Guangxi Hainan Taiwan Guangdong Guizhou Chongqing Ningxia Shandong Fujian Zhejiang Shaanxi Shanxi Hebei Henan Hunan Hubei Jiangxi Anhui Jiangsu


Guangdong Hong Kong

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Macau (or Macao) is a relic of China's subjugation by European powers. Macau stands on a rocky peninsular on the mouth of the Zhu (Pearl) River estuary connected by bridges to Taipa and Coloane Islands .

Macau, cityscape, view, modern housing
Macau skyline, 2013
Chinese proverb


Xiāng xiāo yù sǔn [xiang xiao yu sun]
fragrant vanish jade broken
Fragrance is dissipated; jade is broken
Spoken of on the death of a beautiful young woman
Whom the Gods love die young

Macau History

Macau is a Special Administrative Region (S.A.R.) rather than a province like nearby Hong Kong on the other side of the Pearl river estuary. The mandarin Chinese name for the island is ‘Aomen’. Both Cantonese and Portuguese are widely spoken in the city. Originally Portugal helped China remove Japanese pirates who were damaging trade with the port of Guangzhou (Canton). Portuguese traders then settled in the 16th century and it remained under the control of Portugal until December 20th 1999, making it the first and last foreign presence in China. The early trade was extremely lucrative, the Portuguese acted as the trusted middlemen for trade between China and Japan. There was a ban on direct trade between China and the ‘barbarous’ Japanese and so the Portuguese had a monopoly of the trade in luxury goods such as silk which they bought with Japanese silver. Because gold in China was relatively undervalued they could make huge profits by exchanging silver for gold and shipping the gold back to Europe. This lucrative trade came to an end when all contact with Europeans was banned by the Japanese Emperor at the end of the 1630s.

In the Qing dynasty up to the time of the Opium Wars foreign merchant ships were not allowed into Guangzhou for much of the year, and so the European crews spent several months in Macau. From the mid 18th century up until 1876 Macau was the center of the infamous ‘coolie trade’ where Chinese workers were treated no better than slaves. They were held in ‘barracoons ’ at Macau while awaiting transport to Cuba, Peru and other foreign destinations. Many of the old buildings are of the Portuguese style even though they now represent only 2% of the population. Portugal's neutrality in the second World War made it a refuge for 600,000 fleeing the Japanese occupation. When China was closed to International trade during the 1950s Macau became the conduit for many illicit deals. Later on, in the 1980s it began a period of rapid development but was far out-stripped by Hong Kong. A certain degree of democracy was introduced to the island in 1976.

Like Hong Kong it has fifty years of semi-autonomy within China before it becomes fully assimilated. Unlike Britain, Portugal never had military conflict with China and so Macau has remained an example of foreign and Chinese living and working side-by-side. It has its own currency the pataca which is currently pegged to the Hong Kong dollar. Macau has a tiny area of only 11 sq miles [28 sq kms] with the highest population density in the world.

Macau, church
Sao Lourenco, Macau is a lovely neo-classical church with a few Baroque touches and a Chinese tile roof. It is located in the historic heart of the city.
Thu 4th May

Preserving Confucian Temples

In this article in China Daily the role of Confucian temples is examined. Should the remaining temples be run to draw in tourists or return to be places where Confucian doctrine is studied? Under Mao Zedong, most Confucian temples were torn down and the monks and officials dismissed. Confucius was held up as the epitome of all that was backward and out-dated. Gradually, since about 1990 Confucius has come back into prominence. The Chinese government supports the many Confucius Institutes springing up all over the world to promote Chinese culture and education. He is now seen as an ancient father figure representing the distinctive Chinese culture and philosophy.

A report on the status of the remaining 546 Confucian sites highlights the difficulties in maintaining them. The province of Hunan has the most Confucian academies including Yuelu that has been going for over a thousand years. With massive redevelopment of towns and cities all over China the temple sites are coming under increasing pressure from development.

There are Confucian sites outside China: Vietnam, Japan and Korea and many Asian tourists come to visit the Chinese temples. Of particular interest is the vast temple complex at Confucius' birthplace Qufu which is still inhabited by his descendents.

Qufu, temple, Confucius, Shandong
Lingxing Gate of Qufu Confucian Temple, Qufu, Shandong. January 2009.
Image by Sean Shih available under a Creative Commons license

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Places to Visit in Macau

The Portuguese gave it the name 'Macau' probably after a temple to Mazu a deity of the seafarers in the area. A Ming temple dedicated to her, also known as A-Ma Gau Temple, is located in the south west of the main island. The International airport has been built on an artificial island due to the scarcity of land. There is a popular horse racing course on Taipa Island. The Fortaleza do Monte on the central high part of the island has a museum documenting the outpost's history, while the ‘Largo do Senado’ is at the old heart of the city with many colonial style buildings. Macau Tower at 1,107 feet [337 meters] offers dizzying view of the whole area.

Macau, cityscape, view
View of Macau Tower at sunset
China's Neighbors

China's Neighbors


The countries that surround China have an interesting set of relationships. Wars, conquest and religion have defined the current boundaries of the Peoples' Republic. India, Russia, Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan all have important borders with China.

Macau's main industries continue to be tourism and gambling. With major casinos like Sands Casino ; Casino Lisboa and Venetian Macao (the largest in the World), it generates more gambling revenue than Las Vegas . The traditional cuisine of Macau has a Portuguese style using olive oil and almonds and saffron. A very cosmopolitan mix of other cuisines is available, with seafood a major constituent.

Macau, city wall, people
Old streets of Macau at night Copyright © Dreamstime see image license


Macau has a warm and humid climate through most of the year. It can be very wet during the summer months.

Macau Climate

Temperature axisClimate ChartRainfall axis
Climate chart for Macau
Both Temp Rainfall ° C/mms ° F/ins Key
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Major CitiesPopulation
Macau City 440,000


Macau International Airport 澳门国际机场 MFM IATA / VMMC ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 2.5 miles (4.0 kms) from Macau City
See map of location Macau International Airport

City populations for 2012, Province statistics National Bureau of Statistics 2014

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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Macau Special Administrative Region China', last updated 12 Mar 2013, Web,

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