The earliest known settlers in Macau were fishermen from Fujian
and farmers from Guangdong who came because of its location at the
entrance to the Pearl River leading to Guangzhou (Canton).
In the late 16th century, Portuguese traders and Catholic missionaries
chose it as a gateway to China, and it rapidly became a major entreport
for trade and a meeting point for East and West.
After the Anglo-Chinese War in 1841, the British chose Hong Kong,
a port 40 miles east northeast of Macau and overshadowed Macau's
importance. In recent years, Macau has resumed its old role as a
gateway to China, for goods and travellers.
This is expected to become increasing important with the opening
of the Macau International Airport and the Macauport container facility.
Macau has also grown into a thriving textile industry as well as
being a popular tourist destination.
Although it has witnessed many changes during its 4 centuries of
existence, Macau has remained a stronghold of Portuguese presence
and culture in the Far East. Macau has proudly flown Portugal's
flag continuously even when the Motherland's throne was occupied
by a foreign king in the 16th and 17th century.
On 13 April 1987, Portugal signed an agreement with China to return
Macau to Chinese administration on 20 December 1999 and China promises
to respect Macau's existing social and economic systems and lifestyle
for 50 years after transition.
Macau is a city where the East and the West have met and continue
to coexist in harmony. The results of this combination of cultures
can be seen today in baroque-style churches and exotic temples,
pastel-colored palaces and classic Chinese gardens.
The uniqueness of this place is that while in the midst of development,
it retains an old world charm. One can take a pedicab along the
tree-shaded Praia Grande, or enjoy the traditional Chinese medicinal
halls along cobbled streets with their long Portuguese names.
There are various celebrations throughout the year, be it a Chinese
festival, a Christian Saint's day or a historic anniversary along
with a wide range of other activities.
The combination of Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Malay influences
makes the Macanese cuisine yet another unique feature found nowhere