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 political and economic system would not be imposed on Macau, and that Macau would enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign affairs and defense 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 legislative 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 for the Chief Executive (CE) drawn from broad regional groupings, municipal organizations, central government bodies, and elected Macau officials
unicameral Legislative Assembly (29 seats; 12 members elected by popular vote, 10 by indirect vote, and 7 appointed by the chief executive; members 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 Macau Association or NMA [Jason CHAO]; 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
Civic Power [Agnes LAM lok-fong]; Macau New Chinese Youth Association [LEONG Sin-man]; Macau Society of Tourism and Entertainment or STDM [Stanley HO]; Macau Worker's Union [HO Heng-kuok]; Union for Democracy Development [Antonio NG Kuok-cheong]
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 slowed dramatically in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but strong growth resumed in 2010, 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 Macau into one of 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. In 2008, Macau introduced measures to cool the rapidly developing sector. This city of nearly 552,300 hosted nearly 25 million visitors in 2010. Almost 53% came from mainland China. Macau's traditional manufacturing industry has virtually disappeared since the termination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. In 2010, total exports were less than US$900 million, while gaming receipts were almost US$24 billion, a 58% increase over 2009. The Macau government plans to tighten control over the opening of new casinos and strengthen supervision of local casino operations in 2011 and has introduced measures to diversify the economy. 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 is Macau's second largest goods export market, behind Hong Kong, and followed by 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 approaching 200 per 100 persons in 2010; 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) (2010)
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 (2010)