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45 Interesting Facts About Macau

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by Lionel (subscribe)
Join me as I travel, play, eat, live and work in cities and places around the world.
Published December 27th 2012
Given its reputation as the "Las Vegas of the East", it is no surprise that Macau is popular with gamblers and tourists looking to experience a slice of the high-end luxury hotel-casinos. However this modern city has a unique old-world charm and a rich heritage of Chinese and Portuguese culture for visitors looking for attractions beyond the gambling floor. Here are 45 facts I picked up while in Macau to help make your visit even more interesting.


1) In addition to being Macau's largest natural beach, 4,000 year old ceramics were also excavated from the the Hac Sa Beach or Black Sandy Bay beach.

2) 95 percent of the total population of Macau is Chinese.

3) It is the only place in China where gambling is allowed

4) The Cathedral of St. Paul, built by Jesuits around 1580-1625 AD formed Macau's 'acropolis' and was the largest Catholic church of its time in East Asia.

5) It has its own dialect of Portuguese called "Macanese Portuguese" and a distinctive creole generally known as "Patuá",

Senado Square by KAMSAND23 of Wikimedia Commons

6) The Historic Centre of Macau (also known as "澳門歷史城區" in Mandarin and "O Centro Histórico de Macau" in Portuguese) inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005 is actually a collection of 25 historic monuments and public squares which bore witness to the assimilation and co-existence of Chinese and Portuguese cultures in Macau.

7) It has the world's highest population density with 20643.75 people per square kilometre in 2012.

8) 50 percent of residents in Macau are Buddhists.

9) It was initially leased by Portuguese merchants in 1557 and functioned as a trading centre, shipping Asian gold, silk and spices back to Europe till the 18th century.


10) The Venetian Macao, owned by the Las Vegas Sands, is the largest casino in the world, the largest single structure hotel building in Asia and the sixth-largest building in the world by floor area.

11) It has a fast-aging population. By 2050 there will be 8 non-working residents (including children and elderly) for every 10 active workers.

12) Portuguese and Cantonese are the official languages of Macau.

13) It is the world's fastest growing economy in 2012 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Walls of Monte Fort by Brenden Brain of Wikimedia Commons

14) Monte Fort (also known "Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora do Monte de São Paulo" in Portuguese and the "Fortress of Our Lady of the Mount of St. Paul" in English) constructed from 1617 to 1626 was principal military defence structure and held off the attempted invasion of Macau by Netherlands in 1622.

15) It was ruled by the Portuguese for 442 years since 1887.

16) One of the most convenient and affordable way to travel between Macau and Hong Kong is by ferry. The Hong Kong International Airport even allows visitors to bypass Hong Kong Immigration and transfer directly into a ferry to Macau.

17) St. Paul's College was Asia's first Western-style university offering academic programmes that prepared scores of missionaries to serve the cause of the Roman Catholic church in China, Japan and other parts of Asia.


18) Portuguese egg tarts are Macau's most famous and popular local snack.

19) It is the first and last Asian country to remain a European colony with the Portuguese first arriving in the 16th century and the last Portuguese governor leaving in 1999.

20) 50 percent of Macau's revenue comes from gambling and 20 percent of its population are employed by the casinos.

Ruins Of St Paul's Cathedral by Brenden Brain of Wikimedia Commons

21) The baroque five tiered façade and the 66 flight of stone steps leading to it are all that remain of the Cathedral of St. Paul.

22) It once served as the human trafficking point for Chinese slaves to Portugal.

23) People in Macau have the 2nd longest expected life span in the world at 84.43 as of 2012.

24) New hotel rooms were constructed at a rate of 16.4 a day until 2009 to supply Macau's booming tourism industry.


25) The original Casino Lisboa and 15-story round Lisboa Hotel tower built in 1970 is Macau's oldest casino.

26) It is officially known as Macau Special Administrative Region.

27) One of its most famous resident is "The King of Gambling", Stanley Ho Hung Sun, who had a 40-year government-granted monopoly of the Macau gambling industry.

28) It was known as 'Haojing' (meaning Oyster Mirror) or Jinghai (which literally means Mirror Sea), before Portuguese occupation in the 16th century.


29) The A-Ma Temple existed in 1488 long before the city of Macau came into being and is an exemplary representation of the true diversity of Chinese culture, inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs.

30) Locals believe that the name 'Macau' was derived from the deity Matsu (the goddess of seafarers and fishermen) worshipped at the A-Ma Temple built in 1448.

31) It attracted 28 million visitors, more than the population of Australia, in just 2011 alone.

Trishaw by Iidxplus of Wikimedia Commons

32) Trishaws now used for tourists were once the primary transport method in Macau.

33) With the non-stop development of casinos in Macau, it has become the world's biggest gambling market, outgrowing Las Vegas.

34) The one-off purchase price of a car park berth can be as high as 1 million patacas (around USD125,000).


35) The Grand Canal shopping centre located in the Venetian Resort Hotel is the largest indoor shopping mall in Macau at 968,000 square feet.

36) Often referred to as the biggest tourism project in world history, the Cotai Strip, named after the Las Vegas Strip is a major land reclamation project joining the two islands of Coloane and Taipa.

37) The Guia Lighthouse dating from 1865 was the 1st modern lighthouse on the Chinese coast.

38) Gambling brings in more than USD33 billion of revenue, more than 5 times the amount on the Las Vegas Strip, and accounts for more than 40 percent of GDP.


39) Local cooking in Macau consists of a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines.with ingredients and seasonings from Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia and local Chinese ingredients.

40) Even if you pieced together the land masses Macau has added to its territory since 1998, it would only be equal to the size of 700 football arenas.

41) There are more than 4 times as many gambling tables per 1,000 residents than hospital beds.

2008 Macau F3 Grand Prix by Ngchikit of Wikimedia Commons

42) The Macau Grand Prix famously known as one of the most demanding circuits in the world was originally conceived in 1954 as a treasure hunt around the streets of the city.

43) High-rolling VIPs account for more than 2/3 of the casino takings.

44) It is governed under the "one country, two systems" arrangement for 50 years from 1999 by an elected local authority before reverting to Beijing's full control.


45) Almond cookies are regarded as the king of the local specialty Macanese snacks and is one of the top 3 must-buy gifts of tourists.
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Why? 45 interesting things about Macau the tourism board doesn't tell you
Where: Macau
Your Comment
Interesting article. Almond cookies do make great gifts - they're so delicious!
by Erin Connelly (score: 2|522) 1608 days ago
I really like the pictures you included.
by Ms. Samantha (score: 2|360) 1607 days ago
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