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Quick Facts
Currencypataca (MOP)
Areatotal: 25.4 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 25.4 sq km
Population461,833 (July 2002 est.)
LanguagePortuguese, Chinese (Cantonese)
ReligionBuddhist 50%, Roman Catholic 15%, none and other 35% (1997 est.)

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Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999. China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be practiced in Macau and that Macau will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs.


Map of Macau
Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China
Geographic coordinates 
22 10 N, 113 33 E
Map references 
Southeast Asia
total: 25.4 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 25.4 sq km
Area - comparative 
about 0.1 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries 
total: 0.34 km
border countries: China 0.34 km
41 km
Maritime claims 
not specified
subtropical; marine with cool winters, warm summers
generally flat
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Coloane Alto 172.4 m
Natural resources 
Land use 
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100%
note: "green areas" represent 22.4% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
NA sq km
Natural hazards 
Environment - current issues 
Geography - note 
essentially urban; one causeway and two bridges connect the two islands of Coloane and Taipa to the peninsula on mainland


461,833 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 21.8% (male 52,262; female 48,439)
15-64 years: 70.9% (male 154,942; female 172,647)
65 years and over: 7.3% (male 13,616; female 19,927) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
1.75% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
12.19 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
3.78 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
9.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
4.44 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 81.78 years
female: 84.73 years (2002 est.)
male: 78.97 years
Total fertility rate 
1.31 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
noun: Chinese
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups 
Chinese 95%, Macanese (mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry), Portuguese, other
Buddhist 50%, Roman Catholic 15%, none and other 35% (1997 est.)
Portuguese, Chinese (Cantonese)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90%
male: 93%
female: 86% (1981 est.)


Country name 
conventional long form: Macau Special Administrative Region
conventional short form: Macau
local short form: Aomen (Chinese); Macau (Portuguese)
local long form: Aomen Tebie Xingzhengqu (Chinese); Regiao Administrativa Especial de Macau (Portuguese)
Dependency status 
special administrative region of China
Government type 
Administrative divisions 
none (special administrative region of China)
none (special administrative region of China)
National holiday 
National Day (Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October (1949); note - 20 December 1999 is celebrated as Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
Basic Law, approved in March 1993 by China's National People's Congress, is Macau's "mini-constitution"
Legal system 
based on Portuguese civil law system
direct election 18 years of age, universal for permanent residents living in Macau for the past seven years; indirect election limited to organizations registered as "corporate voters" (257 are currently registered) and a 300-member Election Committee drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organizations, and central government bodies
Executive branch 
chief of state: President of China JIANG Zemin (since 27 March 1993)
elections: chief executive chosen by a 200-member selection committee for up to two five-year terms
cabinet: Executive Council consists of all five government secretaries, three legislators, and two businessmen
head of government: Chief Executive Edmund HO Hau-wah (since 20 December 1999)
Legislative branch 
unicameral Legislative Council or LEGCO (27 seats; 10 elected by popular vote, 10 by indirect vote, and 7 appointed by the chief executive; members serve four-year terms)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats by political bloc - Entertainment Industry 3, pro-democracy 2, pro-Beijing Labor Union 2, pro-Beijing Neighborhood Association 2, pro-business 1
elections: last held 23 September 2001 (next to be held NA 2005)
Judicial branch 
The Court of Final Appeal in the Macau Special Administrative Region
Political parties and leaders 
there are no formal political parties, however, there are civic associations that, for purposes of legislative voting, join together to form political blocs
Political pressure groups and leaders 
Catholic Church [Domingos LAM, bishop]; Macau Society of Tourism and Entertainment or STDM [Stanley HO, managing director]; Union for Democracy Development [Antonio NG Kuok-cheong, leader]
International organization participation 
CCC, ESCAP (associate), IHO, IMO (associate), Interpol (subbureau), ISO (correspondent), UNESCO (associate), WMO, WToO (associate), WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US 
none (special administrative region of China)
Diplomatic representation from the US 
the US has no offices in Macau, and US interests are monitored by the US Consulate General in Hong Kong
Flag description 
light green with a lotus flower above a stylized bridge and water in white, beneath an arc of five gold, five-pointed stars: one large in center of arc and four smaller


Economy - overview 
Macau's economy two years after reversion to China remains one of the most open in the world, according to the World Trade Organization. The government collects no duty on imports and sets no restrictions on exports beyond those required by international agreements. The territory's net exports of goods and services account for 35% of GDP, with tourism and apparel exports as the mainstays. The territory therefore has been hit hard by the 2001 downturn in its key US and EU export markets. Tourism remained strong, however, driven by a surge in visitors from mainland China. In response to the expected contraction of the economy in 2002, the government has announced a stimulative income tax cut and public works program that will push the budget into deficit. China already has extended support by easing restrictions on travel to Macau and is proposing a China-Hong Kong-Macau free trade area. China's economic weight is increasingly felt, with the mainland now holding more than 50% of assets in the financial, real estate, and construction sectors. Mainlanders, however, have been excluded from bidding on the gambling industry licenses that Macau is offering to break up the territory's four-decade-old gambling monopoly. Gambling taxes account for up to 60% of revenue, and the government with Beijing's backing intends to revitalize the industry.
purchasing power parity - $8 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
0.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $17,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: 1%
industry: 25%
services: 74% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line 
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
-2% (2001 est.)
Labor force 
218,000 (2001)
Labor force - by occupation 
restaurants and hotels 26%, manufacturing 20%, other services and agriculture 54% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate 
6.5% (2001 est.)
revenues: $1.15 billion
expenditures: $1.03 billion, including capital expenditures of $166 million (2000 est.)
tourism, gambling, clothing, textiles, electronics, footwear, toys
Industrial production growth rate 
Electricity - production 
1.4 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
1.476 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports 
1 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports 
175 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
rice, vegetables
$2.5 billion f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities 
clothing, textiles, cement, electronics, cameras
Exports - partners 
US 48%, EU 28%, China 10%, Hong Kong 7% (2000)
$2.3 billion c.i.f. (2000)
Imports - commodities 
clothing, textiles, yarn, minerals, electrical machinery, fuel, livestock
Imports - partners 
China 41%, Hong Kong 15%, EU 10%, Taiwan 10%, Japan 6% (2000)
Debt - external 
$1.5 billion (1998)
Economic aid - recipient 
pataca (MOP)
Currency code 
Exchange rates 
patacas per US dollar - 8.033 (January 2002), 8.034 (2001), 8.026 (2000), 7.992 (1999), 7.979 (1998), 7.975 (1997); note - linked to the Hong Kong dollar at the rate of 1.03 patacas per Hong Kong dollar
Fiscal year 
calendar year


Telephones - main lines in use 
176,902 (November 2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
158,251 (November 2001)
Telephone system 
general assessment: fairly modern communication facilities maintained for domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: HF radiotelephone communication facility; access to international communications carriers provided via Hong Kong and China; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 0, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)
160,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
0 (receives Hong Kong broadcasts) (1997)
49,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
1 (2000)
Internet users 
101,000 (2002)


0 km
total: 50 km
paved: 50 km
unpaved: 0 km (2001)
Ports and harbors 
Merchant marine 
none (2002 est.)
1 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2002)


Military branches 
no regular indigenous military forces; responsibility for defense reverted to China on 20 December 1999; there is a local police force
Military manpower - availability 
males age 15-49: 128,005 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service 
males age 15-49: 70,508 (2002 est.)
Military - note 
responsibility for defense reverted to China on 20 December 1999

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international