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 subsequent 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
previous 1976 (Organic Statute of Macau, by Portugal); latest adopted 31 March 1993, effective 20 December 1999(Basic Law of the Macau Special Administrative Region, by the People's Republic of China, serves as Macau's constitution) (2013)
18 years of age in direct elections for some legislative positions, universal for permanent residents living in Macau for the past seven years; note - indirect elections are limited to organizations registered as "corporate voters" (973 were registered in the 2009 legislative elections) 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
chief executive chosen by a 300-member Election Committee for a five-year term (current chief executive is eligible for a second term); election last held on 26 July 2009 (next to be held in July 2014)
note:the Legislative Assembly voted in August 2012 to expand the electoral committee to 400 seats for the 2014 election.
Fernando CHUI Sai On elected in 2009 with 282 votes, took office on 20 December 2009
unicameral Legislative Assembly (33 seats; 14 geographical constituency seats elected by popular vote, 12 functional constituency seats elected by indirect vote, and 7 seats appointed by the chief executive; members serve four-year terms)
last held on 15 September 2013 (next to be held in 2017)
percent of vote - ACUM 18.0%, UMG 11.1%, UPP 10.8%, NE 9.0%, NUDM 8.9%, UPD 8.2%, APMD 7.5%, ANMD 6.0%, MUDAR 6.0%, others 14.5%; seats by political group - ACUM 3, UMG 2, UPP 2, NE 2, NUDM 1, UPD 1, APMD 1, ANMD 1, MUDAR 1; 12 seats filled by professional and business groups; 7 members appointed by the chief executive
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
Since opening up its locally-controlled casino industry to foreign competition in 2001, Macau has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment, transforming the territory into one of the world's largest gaming centers. 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. Macau's economy slowed dramatically in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown, but strong growth resumed in 2010-11, largely on the back of tourism from mainland China and the gaming sectors. In 2013, this city of 598,000 hosted more than 28 million visitors. Almost two-thirds came from mainland China. Macau's traditional manufacturing industry has slowed greatly since the termination of the Multi-Fiber Agreement in 2005. China is Macau's second largest goods export market, behind Hong Kong, and followed by the United States. In 2013, exports increased about 9% over 2012. Macau's economy expanded by more than 10% in 2013. Macau continues to face the challenges of managing its growing casino industry, risks from money-laundering activities, and the need to diversify the economy away from heavy dependence on gaming revenues. Macau's currency, the pataca, is closely tied to the Hong Kong dollar, which is also freely accepted in the territory. In 2013, Macau signed a supplementary agreement to its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with mainland China. The agreement, which took effect in January 2014, facilitates trade in services, including finance, health, social services, sports, and tourism.
note:the Fiscal Reserves Act that came into force on 1 January 2012 requires the fiscal reserve to be separated from the foreign exchange reserves and to be managed separately; the transfer of assets took place in February 2012
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 exceeding 200 per 100 persons; 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) (2011)
local government dominates broadcast media; 2 television stations operated by the government with one broadcasting in Portuguese and the other in Cantonese and Mandarin; 1 cable TV and 4 satellite TV services available; 3 radio stations broadcasting, of which 2 are government-operated (2012)