Macau, located 60 kilometres south and west of Hong Kong, is a Special Administration Region of the People’s Republic of China.
The origins of this small and very densely populated island (over 18 000 pr square kilometre) go back to the Qin Dynasty (221 – 206 B C).
The first Europeans to set foot on the island were the soldiers of Jorge Alvares in 1513 claiming the island for Portugal, and shortly after obtained trading rights from the Chinese ruler of the time.
Macau then started to prosper due to trade.
The Dutch, at time active in the region, especially in Indonesia, attacked the Portuguese several times, but were rebuffed for the last time in 1622 mostly due to the heroic fighting of “slavers”, Chinese and local Macanese.
The island sanctioned gambling in 1962 and licensed Stanley Ho to operate a casino as a monopoly. His dominance ended in 202, no doubt under pressure from big Las Vegas operators with billions of dollars in tehri treasuries. Now, Sands Macau, Wynn Macau, Venetian Macau (the world’s largest building compete with Venetian-inspired artificial canals and fake gondolas), and MGM Grand Macau compete with local casinos.
The big “ritzy” American-conceived, huge, and lavish casinos win the day and attract thousands of gamblers.
The island is a tax-free haven, Freeport, off shore financial centre, and the economy thrives because of tourism and gambling.
All casinos are lavish (The Venetian’s gambling areas cover more than 61 000 square metres of floor space) and attract up to 120 000 visitors on busy days, mainly from Mainland China, Hong-Kong (The local currency pataca is pegged to the Hong Kong $).
If you go, take a stroll from your hotel to visit Old Macau to see the remains of St Paul’s Cathedral, religious and public Portuguese and Chinese buildings, and the historic centre which bears a unique testimony to meeting of aesthetic, cultural, architectural, and technological influences of East and West.
Old Macau is a declared UNESCO heritage site.
Before the first hotel cum gambling den was built, the Jesuits had erected the St Paul’s Cathedral.
If you are interested in gambling and visiting Hong Kong but want to see all the resorts that American capital from Las Vegas built, you can take a one-day excursion that brings you there on a hydrofoil boat from where you can see everything worth seeing, and then whisks you back to Hong Kong.
If you decide to stay for a few days, the hotel pool may offer opportunities to relax, or you can spend your time on lavish casino floors, bars, or restaurants.
Macau offers a huge choice of accommodation (25 000 rooms, and more are being build to accommodate the surge of visitors from China).
Interestingly enough, Macau’s gambling revenue exceeds that of Las Vegas, but their owners repatriate the profits to the U S A.
The population consists of Chinese (95 per cent), mixed (2 per cent), and a few Macanese. The religions practiced are mainly Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Catholicism (17 per cent ).