Made in Macau |








Macau Travel Guide > Introduction

CopyrightedSituated on the South coast of China, the territory of Macau currently houses a numerous population which since the beginning the 80’s has not ceased to increase as a result of the intense immigration arriving from the Peoples Republic of China. This influx of new residents brings people to the cities in search of better working opportunities and a brighter future for them and their families, many of whom wait patiently in their remote villages in China. The current population of Macau is estimated at around 450,000 inhabitants, predominantly Chinese (93%) followed by the Portuguese community (5%) and other residents of different origins like Filipino’s and Thai’s.

This universal aspect of the city of Macau has been ingrained during the course of four and a half centuries of peaceful cohabitation from a population with a vocation for commercial trade in this strategic port at the mouth of the Pearl River which gives access to the prosperous city of Canton, generating indelible characteristics which until today still exist in the socio-cultural network of this society, the visible testimony is through the city’s urban mesh and architecture of it’s many buildings.

However, the accelerated economic, cultural and technological transformations which have been noted in all of Asia, in particular China are all reflected in Macau through the image of the city which has been witness to a historical backdrop begin to rapidly change and risk in the short term of loosing all its resulting characteristics of its cross cultural Asian and Western cultures.

For this reason it became necessary to urgently take steps of protecting, conserving and valuing of the existing patrimony preventing the deterioration of the image and unique identity of the city, subject to the pressures of property development and speculation, moreover the social requirements resulting from the populations constant expansion and demand on housing.

This recent growing is reflected in the current characteristics of the territories population where it is estimated that around 50% have arrived and been living in Macau over the last fifteen years, therefore being a population of recent immigrants of which the majority are Chinese who came to Macau with the intention of enjoying better living conditions but who’s cultural regards have little or nothing to do with where they live, naturally located in their birth places some of which are far from Macau and considerably different cultures.

Macau is a small territory without any natural resources, with a laboring population suffering from the competition of neighboring markets where the labor is much cheaper and therefore much more competitive, so that which remains is tourism based on cultural and historical identity unmatchable in the rest of Asia, made up of its great patrimony which should be preserved and revitalized and which in the future will make this city different from that which remains in the vast Orient.

Macau Travel Guide > History

According to recent archeological findings, the earliest settlers dated back couple thousand years ago. The Portuguese first landed at the mouth of the Pearl River near Macau in 1513. In 1557, the Portuguese traders signed an agreement with the Guangzhou officials to lease the Macau Peninsula. Since Chinese were not allowed to travel aboard at the time, Macau became a major trading center in Southeast Asia; until the British took control over Hong Kong in the mid-1800. After the decline of being a major trade post, Macau's economy didn't revive until the legalization of gambling.

In the early 1550s the Portuguese reached Ou Mun, which the locals also called A Ma Gao, "place of A Ma", in honor 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 favorite stopover for international travelers, writers and artists.

A less mentioned part of Macau history is the "12.3 Instance", in which Chinese fought for ethnicity pride and equal right and treatment. During 1966 to 1967, the Taipa residents applied 24 times in a 5-month period for a license to set up a private school for the Taipa children. After the continuing delay, the residents decided to set up the school while trying to get approval from the government.

On November 15, 1967, the Portuguese police attacked the construction workers, residents and press reporters with raid sticks and arrested the school officials. When the news broke out, social groups and unions gathered at the Governor's House for peaceful protest. On December 3rd, the government ordered the arrest of the protesters. This event triggered the anger of the public, and people began to converge to protest. The same afternoon, the Portuguese government sends out the raid police and declared marshal law. In the 2 days followed, 11 people died and over 200 were injured.

For the next 2 months, the Chinese people enacted a "Three No's" action (No Taxes, No Service, No Selling to Portuguese officials) to peacefully demonstrate against the government. On January 29th, 1967, the Portuguese government gave in to the demand of the people and signed an apology statement. From this point on, the Chinese were beginning to be treated with more respect and equality.

Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China since December 20, 1999, and, like Hong Kong, benefits from the principle of "one country, two systems". The tiny SAR is growing in size - with more buildings on reclaimed land - and in the number and diversity of its attractions. The greatest of these continues to be Macau's unique society, with communities from the East and West complementing each other, and the many people who come to visit.


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