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Discovering Macau

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Macau, also known as Macao, is a city and autonomous region on China’s southern coast, on the other side of the Pearl River estuary from Hong Kong. Macau is one of the world’s most populated regions and one of the top 20 most popular tourist destinations. A former Portuguese colony, the region is home to 25 UNESCO World Heritage sights and boasts both Asian and European architectural monuments. It has a small, but growing, expat population.

 Good to know:

What is Macau best known for? Definitely, casinos and extravagant gambling — the city’s gambling “income” is seven times higher than the profits of “The Strip” in Las Vegas.

Geography

Located to the South of mainland China, Macau is 60km away from Hong Kong and comprises the Macau Peninsula and the islands of Taipa and Coloane. Macau was once an island but has eventually become a peninsula with the connecting sandbar turned into a 5.2km isthmus — the Cotai Strip.

Macau borders the Chinese city of Zhuhai: the main border is known as Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate). The region’s highest point is Alto de Coloane (170.3 metres high), while most of the territory is flat. Due to Macau’s dense population and rapid urban development, it has no forests or farmland.

 Good to know:

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is currently under construction — the 50km link will allow for easier communication between the three cities.

Climate

Macau’s climate is subtropical, with hot humid, summers and relatively mild winters. The most “difficult” months are from June to September, when the temperatures can rise above 30 °C (86°F) during the day. Plus, this is also the rainy season with exceptionally high humidity and a strong possibility of typhoons. January and February are drier and much cooler, with the average daily temperature under 20°C (68°F). The best times to visit Macau are the months of October through December.

Economy

Macau is one of China’s most economically prosperous regions. The service sector (mainly hospitality, tourism and casinos) makes up over 90% of Macau’s GDP and offer 70% of employment. As the only place in China where gambling is legal, the city attracts loads of tourists from the Mainland as well as abroad, and the gaming sector, as well as gambling-related taxes, make up over 80% of the government’s revenue.

The region has also benefited from global trade and investment as a free port. Due to low taxation, a well-developed infrastructure and an efficient entrepreneurial environment, Macau has attracted a lot of foreign investment.

Population

Macau is the most densely inhabited region in the world with the region’s population reaching over 0.6 million people in 2016.

The majority of the population (over 95%) is Chinese, mostly Cantonese and Hakka, with the remainder of the population being of Portuguese or mixed descent. Macau has two official languages: Cantonese Chinese and Portuguese. There is a small but expanding expat population in Macau, with most foreign professionals working in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Government

Macau is China’s Special Administrative Region. The State Council of the People’s Republic of China is in charge of the region’s foreign policy and military defence, while Macau retains its own monetary, legal, immigration and customs systems. The head of Macau’s government is the Chief Executive of Macau (currently Fernando Chui Sai On).

National holidays and festivals

Macau celebrates most of the same holidays as in Mainland China: Spring Festival (celebrated in winter according to the lunar calendar), Tomb Sweeping Day (April 4th), Labour Day (May 1st), National Day (October 1-3) and so on. Additionally, there are several western holidays like Christmas, Easter and others.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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See also

Macau is regarded as one of Asia's main entertainment centres, with a popular nightlife scene. Expats can also find many cultural and outdoor activities.
Expats will find getting their phones connected and connecting to the internet quite easy in Macau. There are also a large number of public WiFi hotspots.
If you are moving to Macau with a lot of your belongings, you should consider hiring a removal or shipping company to assist with your move.
In order to drive in Macau you will need to legalise your licence at a police station. For stays longer than a year, you will need a local licence,

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