Macau (/məˈkaʊ/; traditional Chinese: 澳門; simplified Chinese: 澳門; pinyin: Àomén), also spelled Macao, is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong to the east, bordered by Guangdong Province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south. The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, but also includes manufacturing. The Cantonese people from Hong Kong and Guangdong, especially recent mainland tourism from Mandarin-speaking regions, have boosted the economy of Macau significantly.
A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port. The Portuguese administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony of the Portuguese empire. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer. By 2002, it had become one of the world's richest cities. It became the world's biggest gambling centre in 2006.
Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the PRC's Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.
According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world. In addition, Macau is one of the very few regions in Asia with a "very high Human Development Index", ranking 23rd or 24th in the world in 2007 (with Japan being the highest in Asia; the other Asian countries/regions within the "very high HDI" category are South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Brunei).
This panorama was taken in China, Asia
This is an overview of Asia
Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, a darling little gem floating around in space.
Hm, what is Asia? Who's in on it?
China and India are safe bets for Asian nations. Korea, Japan, Thailand, you're fine.
Europe? No. Europe would sort of be on the "Asian continent" if not for those pesky Ural mountains dividing things up in the middle, and then also the whole lineage of kings and wealth and nations and the EU and all that "give me my respect" stuff.
Russia would probably be happiest as its own continent, so for now we'll leave it in "Eurasia" and just hope the natural gas supplies keep flowing.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are dang close to Asia, but politically they show up in "Middle East" news stories an awful lot. Verdict: Eurasia.
I guess we'll actually have to consider everything from Turkey on eastward to be "Eurasian", although the moniker seems overlappitory of the territory.
The Asian economy is now officially raging like a wild furnace of lava that consumes everything in its path. Japan has had the largest individual economy in Asia for decades, but it is forecast that both India and China will outstrip Japan within twenty years.
China is the largest holder of United States debt and is positioned to become the world's next superpower, provided that Godzilla doesn't return and decide to stomp everybody back into the Shang Dynasty.
Text by Steve Smith.