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April 29th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Chinese: 中華人民共和國澳門特別行政區 [in Mandarin, in Cantonese] ; Portuguese: Região Administrativa Especial de Macau da República Popular da China [in Portuguese], abbreviated as RAEM), commonly known as Macau or Macao (Chinese: 澳門, or informally known as 馬交), is a small territory on the southern coast of China. Administered by Portugal until 1999, it was the oldest European colony in China, dating to the 16th century. The administrative power (in Portuguese "potência administrante") over Macau was transferred to the People's Republic of China in 1999, and it is now one of two Special Administrative Regions of the PRC, together with Hong Kong. Macau is guaranteed for 50 years starting from December 20, 1999, provided under the Basic Law, will be over by 2049. (The agreement is raised by Deng Xiaoping to deal with Macau's reunification with the People's Republic of China in 1999, and is stipulated in the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration of 1987. Macau has played a unique and influential role in relations between China and the West, especially between the late 16th and 19th centuries.

Residents of Macau mostly speak Cantonese natively; Portuguese, Mandarin, and English, Fujianese, Pilipino, Thai and several other languages are also spoken. The Macanese language, which is generally known as "Patua," is a distinctive Creole that is still spoken by several dozen Macanese, an ethnic group of mixed Asian and Portuguese ancestry that accounts for about two per cent of Macau's population. (However, Macanese is sometimes also used in the broader sense to describe any permanent resident of Macau.)

Besides historical Chinese and Portuguese world-heritage relics, Macau's biggest attraction is its gambling industry and casinos. Though many forms of gambling are legal here, the most popular game is baccarat, which generates over two thirds of the gaming industry's gross receipts. Gamblers from Hong Kong often take one-day excursions to Macau; ferry service by hydrofoil to and from Hong Kong is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Most gamblers come from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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