Travel Guide >
Situated on the South
coast of China, the territory of Macau currently houses a numerous population which since
the beginning the 80s 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 Filipinos and Thais.
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 citys urban mesh and architecture of
its 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 whos 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.
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
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
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 20 December 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.