Right at the mouth of southern China’s Pearl River lies the diminutive yet culturally vibrant Macau, one of the two Chinese special administrative regions. (The other, of course, is Hongkong.)
Traditionally known as Ou Men, meaning “trading gate,” Macau is the perfect intersection of the Asian and European ethos. It holds the title for being the first and last European protectorate in China, being an overseas Portuguese domain until 1999.
A healthy mixture of Western and Chinese ethnicity is quite visible in the cuisine, architectural designs, and even common practices of the population. The Baroque style of architectures from Portugal characterizes churches, temples, and palaces found in the old city of Macau. The incorporation of European influences into Chinese customs is also evident in traditional festivals, gastronomy, and even street signage.
Macau’s biggest industry is tourism – and gambling. The country utilizes its gambling industry to attract tourists and foreign visitors. In fact, this country is known to be Asia’s largest gambling destination.
With their wide exposure to different foreign cultures, the Macanese have grown to be some of the warmest and most accommodating people in the world. They also display remarkable unity despite diversity.
This cultural giant is the most densely populated region in the world, with a populace of almost 19,000 people per square kilometer. Majority of the citizenry are Chinese, making up to 95% of the population. People of mixed Portuguese-Chinese descent compose 2% of the totality.
Most Macanese people speak their native language, Chinese Cantonese, which is also one of the official languages of the country. The other is Portuguese.
Other tongues, such as Mandarin, English, Hokkien, and Patua, the distinct Macanese dialect, are used by the rest of the natives.
Majority of the Macanese participate in Chinese folk religions such as Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.There are also Christian communities in Macau.
Tap water in Macau is supplied directly from Mainland China. It is purified and mixed with chlorine for added protection.
When using appliances, it is good practice to bring adapters for sockets for the standard three-pin square- or round-shaped plug type in Macau. Electricity is at 220V.