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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.
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.
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.
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.
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