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 the People's Republic of China on 20 December 1999. In this agreement, China promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system would not be practiced in Macau, and that Macau would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
essentially urban; an area of land reclaimed from the sea measuring 5.2 sq km and known as Cotai now connects the islands of Coloane and Taipa; the island area is connected to the mainland peninsula by three bridges
direct election 18 years of age for some non-executive positions, 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
unicameral Legislative Assembly (29 seats; 12 members elected by popular vote, 10 by indirect vote, and 7 appointed by the chief executive; members to serve four-year terms)
last held on 20 September 2009 (next to be held in September 2013)
percent of vote - UPD 14.9%, ACUM 12%, APMD 11.6%, NUDM 9.9%, UPP 9.9%, ANMD 7.8%, UMG 7.3%, MUDAR 5.5%, others 21.1%; seats by political group - UPD 2, ACUM 2, APMD 2, NUMD 1, UPP 1, ANMD 1, UMG 1, MUDAR 1; 10 seats filled by professional and business groups; 7 members appointed by the chief executive
Alliance for Change or MUDAR; Macau Development Alliance or NUDM [Angela LEONG On-kei]; Macau-Guangdong Union or UNG; Macau United Citizens' Association or ACUM [CHAN Meng-kam]; New Democratic Macau Association or APMD [Antonio NG Kuok-cheong]; New Hope or NE [Jose Maria Pereira COUTINHO]; Union for Promoting Progress or UPP [LEONG Heng-teng]
note:there is no political party ordinance, so there are no registered political parties; politically active groups register as societies or companies
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 the center of the arc and two smaller on either side; the lotus is the floral emblem of Macau, the three petals represent the peninsula and two islands that make up Macau; the five stars echo those on the flag of China
Macau's economy enjoyed strong growth in 2009 despite the global economic slowdown, largely on the back of strong tourism and gaming sectors. After opening up its locally-controlled casino industry to foreign competition in 2001, the territory attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment, transforming Macao into the world's largest gaming center. Macau's gaming and tourism businesses were fueled by China's decision to relax travel restrictions on Chinese citizens wishing to visit Macau. By 2006, Macau's gaming revenue surpassed that of the Las Vegas strip, and gaming-related taxes accounted for more than 70% of total government revenue. This city of nearly 570,000 hosted more than 21 million visitors in 2009. Almost 51% came from mainland China. Macau's traditional manufacturing industry has virtually disappeared since the termination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. In 2009, total exports were less than US$1 billion, while gaming receipts were almost US$15 billion. The Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Macau and mainland China that came into effect on 1 January 2004 offers Macau-made products tariff-free access to the mainland, nevertheless, China remains Macau's third largest goods export market, behind Hong Kong and the United States. Macau's currency, the Pataca, is closely tied to the Hong Kong dollar, which is also freely accepted in the territory.
general assessment: fairly modern communication facilities maintained for domestic and international services
termination of monopoly over mobile-cellular telephone services in 2001 spurred sharp increase in subscriptions with mobile-cellular teledensity reaching 185 per 100 persons in 2009; fixed-line subscribership appears to have peaked and is now in decline
country code - 853; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable network that provides links to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; HF radiotelephone communication facility; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2009)
local government dominates broadcast media; 2 television stations operated by the government with one broadcasting in Portuguese and the other in Cantonese and Mandarin; cable and satellite TV services are available; 3 radio stations broadcasting, of which 2 are government-operated (2008)