Macau, also spelled Macao, is one of the special administrative regions of China. It lies at the estuary of the Pearl River of Canton Province, directly 70 kilometers west of Hong Kong. Covering an area of 23.5 square kilometers, it consists of Macau peninsula, Isle of Taiga and Isle of Coloane.
History and Culture
The history of Macau began in the late years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD), the time when the last emperor of the dynasty was driven away from Hangzhou to Macau by the Mongolian army. From then on, some inland people began to settle down and fished there. But in 1553, the Portuguese navigators landed in this place. After three years, they built forts and circumvallation and occupied there for 442 years until it was returned to China on Dec.20.1999. During the Portuguese rule, Macau has gradually become a trading port affiliating between East and West. It promotes the cultural integration between that of the Portuguese and Chinese. At the same time, exotic civilization was brought to this port with the Portuguese come in flocks. And the first western university was built up in this Far East city in 1594, the College of St. Paul. Macau also boasts a melting-pot of the oriental and the occidental in East Asia now. In this port, the mix of cultures can be found in architecture, life-styles and traditions. Rambling along the Macau's street, you will find bright Mediterranean style architecture and unique Chinese style architecture. Landing on this port, you will see the Macau residents still keep spending the festivals of both China and Portugal. If you visit the Macau's rings, you will be amazed at both Chinese and Portuguese are all enjoy the bullfight.
Languages and Religions
Chinese and Portuguese are the two Macau's official languages. Of the total population of 530,000, about ten percent can speak both languages. But, English is widely used among the academic community; In Macau, religion is diverse: There are Buddhism, Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Most of the residents belong to Buddhism, some believe in Christianity, the rest convert to Roman Catholicism. Since the freedom of religion and belief is protected by the local government, the people of different faith live in perfect harmony.
Heaven of the Tourists
Reputed as the heaven of the tourists, Macau is abundant in tourism resources: beautiful seashore, ancient Chinese temples, fabulous gardens, dotting forts, grand chapels, they all drench in the glitz of long history. Popular tourist attractions such as the A-Ma Cultural Village, Taipa Village, Coloane Village, Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, San Ma Lo, Beaches in Taipa Isle, Outer Harbor, Penha Hill, Guia Hill & Sao Lazaro, Penha Penisnsula, too many to name them. They are dazzling enough to strike your flake of imagination.
Gambling industry plays a very important role in Macau because the revenue of the government is from the Commercial Gaming. So many horse race and dog race are going on, and so many casinos are found in this vital city. Here, gambling has become one part of the city culture and entertainment. Every year, thousands upon thousands of tourists and gamblers gather in the casinos to try their luck on the roulette wheel. Macau is now known for the eastern Las Vegas, the Mecca of the gamblers.
Shopping in Macau is economical as Macau is a free port. Therefore, no sales tax is charged, but bargaining is common for many items. Usually, shopping at the designated shops can get a discount if you trip to Macau. Like Hong Kong, Macau is famous for the shopping paradise. It's most popular buys are jewelry, Chinese antiques, porcelain, pottery, electric gadgetry, cameras, watches, beading work, and knitted wear. Among these articles, jewelry is the first choice of the tourist. So, if you plan a Macau trip, you'd better take your shopping budget into consideration in case of you cannot overcome their temptation.
All in all, Macau is a unique destination in China. When you are about to make an Asian trip please don't miss this special city with colonial color and with the cultural mix of the east and the west.
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