Macau is located on the southeastern coast of China, at latitude 22° 14' North and longitude 113° 35' East. The territory comprises a peninsula and two islands in the Pearl River delta of Guangdong Province. Some 60 kms to the northeast, across the mouth of the river, is HongKong, an important financial and trading centre.
The city of Macau is built on the peninsula; two bridges of 2.5 kms and 4.5 kms respectively link it to its nearest island of Taipa, which in turn is joined to Coloane by a 2.2 km-long causeway. At the extreme northern end of the peninsula, on a narrow isthmus, is the imposing gateway (Portas do Cerco, or Border Gate), which leads to the Zhuhai and Zhongshan areas of China.
The territory has a total area of 21.09 sq. km. The peninsula is 7.49 sq. km, including the Praia Grande reclamation project. Taipa island, including the airport, is 5.79 sq. km. and Coloane is 7.81 sq. km.
The climate is moderate to hot, with an average annual temperature of just over 20°C (68°F) and a yearly mean variation between 16°C (50°F) and 25°C (77°F). The humidity is high with an average range between 75% and 90%. Rainfall is also high with the yearly total between 40 and 80 ins. The best season is autumn (October - December) when days are sunny and warm and the humidity is low. The winter (January March) is cold but sunny. In April, the humidity starts to build up and from May to September the climate is hot and humid with rain and occasional tropical storms (typhoons).
Macau is officially a territory under Portuguese administration. It enjoys administrative and financial autonomy under the Organic Statutes published in 1976 and revised in May 1990. The Governor is appointed by the President of the Portuguese Republic and is aided by an Advisory Council and, in his executive functions, by the maximum of seven Under-Secretaries in charge of relevant sectors of the administration. There is a Legislative Assembly of 23 members, 16 of them being elected (eight by direct suffrage and eight by indirect suffrage) and the remainder being appointed by the Governor. The Chairman of the Legislative Assembly is elected from among its members.
In accordance with the Joint Luso-Chinese Declaration, China will resume sovereignty over Macau on December 21, 1999 and the territory will become a Special Administrative Region.
The total population is estimated at approximately 455,000 with about 95% of the population Chinese and 5% Portuguese, Europeans and from other regions.
Potuguese and Chinese are the two official languages, with Cantonese the most widely spoken. English is Macau's third language and is generally used in trade, tourism and commerce.
The pataca (composed of 100 avos) is the of ficial unit of currency in Macau. It is available in coins and banknotes in denominations of:
Coins: 10, 20, 50, avos; 1 & 5 patacas.
Banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, & 1000 patacas.
The Macau pataca can be freely converted into Portuguese escudos or Chinese yuan. It is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar - which is circulated freely in Macau at the rate of 103.20 patacas =HK$100.00, with a permissible variation of up to 10%.
There is complete freedom of worship in Macau. The main religion are Buddhism, Catholicism and Protestantism. The majority are Buddhists while 7% are Catholics.
The Portuguese settled in Macau between 1554 and 1557 during the great era of Portuguese exploration initiated by Prince Henry the Navigator. Vasco da Gama made his historic voyage to India at the end of the 15th century, and early in the 16th century the Portuguese explorers moved further east and then turned north.
Jorge Alvares became the first Portuguese to set foot in Southern China in 1513 and this visit was followed by the establishment of a number of Portuguese trading centres in the area. These were eventually consolidated at Macau which boomed with a virtual monopoly on trade between China and Japan and between both nations and Europe.
Macau also served as a vital base for the introduction of Christianity to China and Japan, an activity which provided the city with some of the most glorious, and tempestuous, moments in its history. Because of the prosperity it was enjoying and its privileged location, other European nations began casting covetous looks at Macau and plotted to seize it from Portugal. The Dutch actually tried to invade the city in 1622 but were repulsed.
As time passed and other trading nations from the west sent missions to China, Macau became the summer residence for the taipans (great traders) who retreated from their "factories" in Guangzhou (better known perhaps as Canton) to await the opening of the trading season.
Then in 1841, the British settled in HongKong, an island 40 miles east-northeast of Macau. Its deep-water attracted ships and trade shifted to the Crown Colony. The economic importance of Macau declined as Hong Kong developed into one of the world's major commercial centres. Nevertheless, Macau is still regarded as an important distribution outlet for rice, fish, piece goods and other Chinese products and enjoys an active manufacturing and exporting business, mainly of textiles and garments, toys, electronics and footwear.
Although it has witnessed many changes during its 440 years of existence, Macau has always been 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 17th century. When Portuguese rule was re-established, 60 years later, the city of Macau was granted the official name of:
CIDADE DO NOME DE DEUS DE MACAU, NAO HA OUTRAMAIS LEAL
(City of the Name of God, Macau, There is None More Loyal).
The Name of Macau
Macau is derived from the name of a Chinese goddess, popular with seafarers and fishermen, known as A-Ma or Ling Ma. The village where Macau now stands was previously known to the Chinese as Hou Kong or Hoi Keang.
According to legend, a junk sailing across the South China Sea one clear day found itself in a sudden storm. Everybody on board was about to give up all hope of surviving this natural calamity, when an attractive young woman, who had boarded the ship at the very last minute, stood up and ordered the elements to calm down. Miraculously, the gale winds stopped blowing and the sea became calm. Without further incident, the junk arrived safely at the port of Hoi Keang. The young woman stepped ashore and walked to the crest of the nearby Barra Hill where, in a glowing halo of light and perfume, she ascended into heaven. On the particular spot where she set foot on land, a temple was built in homage to her. Centuries later, when Portuguese sailors landed and asked the name of the place, the natives replied A-Ma-Gao (Bay of A-Ma). And so the peninsula was renamed. In modern usage, Amagao was shortened to Macau.
How to get there
Macau International Airport opened in late 1995. It is linked by scheduled air services to Bangkok, Beijing, Brussels, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon, Pyongyang, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and other cities in China including Chongqing, Changsha, Dalian, Fuzhou, Hainan, Qingdao, Shenyang, Xi'AN, Xiamen, Yantai and Wenzhou.
These routes are operated by Air Macau, Air China, China Northern, China Northwest, China National Aviation Corporation, Asiana, Air Koryo, EVA Airways, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Pacific Airlines, Sabena, Singapore Airlines, TAP-Air Portugal, Thai Airways, TransAsia Airways and Xiamen Airlines.
In addition there are charter flights by All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Japan Air System from Niigata, Osaka, Sendai and other cities.
Air Macau is represented in Europe by TAP and Sabena, in Australia/New Zealand by China Express in Sydney (tel. 61-2-290-1148, fax 612-290-1153), in HongKong by the China International Travel Service and in other parts of Asia by airlines operating into Macau. Air Macau (airline code NX) can be contacted direct, tel (853) 396-555 or (853) 396-6888, fax (853) 396-6866.
There is also air service between Macau and Hong Kong, by the eight-seat helicopters of East Asia Airlines, which make about twenty-two roundtrips a day between Hong Kong and Macau Ferry terminals. Travel time is 20 minutes. Tickets cost (from HK) HK$1,206 weekdays, HK$ 1,310 weekends and holidays; (from Macau)
Several fleets of hight-speed vessels serve the 40-mile route between Hong Kong and Macau: jetfoils, turbo-cats, jumbo-cats and hover ferries. There are more than 100 sailings throughout the day and evening, with all-night service by jetfoils.
Passengers are advised to be at the terminal at least 30 minutes before departure in order to complete immigration formalities. Those arriving early can join stand-by lines for earlier sailings. Children over the age of 12 months pay full fare on all vessels. There are two terminals in HongKong. The main sea terminal and heliport are located in Shun Tak Centre, on the waterfront West of Central District on Hong Kong Island. It stands over the Sheung Wan station of the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) and adjoins a terminal for public buses and minibuses from many parts of Hong Kong, including the A2 Airbus from the airport. The terminal has passenger wharves and helipad, ticketing offices for current and advance sailings and flights, reservation offices of Macau hotels and travel agents, the Macau Government Tourist Office representative office and information counter. The China Ferry Terminal, which offers ferry services from the Kowloon side, is located on the Tshimshatsui waterfront alongside Harbour City, and is used for Jumbocats, and Hover-ferry sailing to and from Macau. It contains ticketing offices for current and advance sailings.
The Macau Maritime Terminal and heliport is situated in the Outer Harbour. It contains ticketing offices for travel to Hong Kong, Macau Hotel reservation of offices, car hire offices, travel agencies selling tours in Macau and to China, duty-free shops and restaurants, as well as luggage lockers, automatic teller machines a computerized information guide, money exchange and post office facilities.
From Chek Lap Kok Airport
To Shun Tak Centre: by taxi around 45 minutes - 1 hour, HK$500-600 and depending on traffic;
To China Ferry Terminal: by taxi about 35 minutes, HK$350-400.
The Hong Kong Government charges a departure tax of HK$26 on tickets to Macau, which is usually included in the ticket price. There is a departure tax of MOP$25 levied by the Macau Government, included in the ticket from Macau.
For Macau, airport departure tax for flights to China is MOP$80 (MOP$50 for children aged two to 12), for other destinations MOP$ 130 (MOP$80 for children).
Baggage Service at the Maritime Terminal
Luggage is limited basically to hand-carried items not exceeding 60x20x35 cm and 10 kgs in weight. Baggage exceeding this size will be handled as check-in luggage costing $30 for 10 - 20 kgs per piece and $40 for 20-40 kgs per piece.
The check-in luggage can only be transported on the jetfoil on which the passenger is travelling and MUST be handed in 20 to 30 minutes prior to the departure time.
The check-in counters are open 6:54 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. and are located on the 1st fl. of the Macau Maritime Terminal, and at the passenger bridge of Shun Tak Centre in Hong Kong.
The service starts from the counter to the taxi stand at either Macau or Hong Kong.
FERRY BOOKINGS AND INFORMATION
Tickets to Macau can be bought in Hong Kong up to 28 days in advance, to Hong Kong from Macau up to seven days. In Hong Kong they can be purchased at the terminals and from MTR travel service centres in various Mass Transit Railway stations.
Telephone bookings can be made for Jetfoils, tel. (852) 2829-6596 by holders of American Express, Diners, Master Card or Visa. Card holders can book the Turbo-cats and Jumbocats of CTS-Parkview by calling (852)2789-5421. (Be advised that tickets booked by phone must be collected from counters on the first floor of Shun Tak Centre so passengers should allow extra time.) It is recommended that passengers buy return tickets before departure for sailings on weekends and public holidays.
There are no group rates on any vessel, however agents can make group bookings and special arrangements directly with the operators:
Travelling to China
- Far East Jetfoil Company Ltd.
Tel: (852) 2859-3351,
Fax: (852) 2858-3523
- CTS-Parkview Holdings Ltd.
Tel: (852) 2789-5421,
Fax: (852) 2398-1268
- Hong Kong Yaumati Ferry Co.
Tel: (852) 2516-9581
Travelling to and from China is also very convenient. There are scheduled jetcat and boat services between Macau and different cities of Guangdong Province. Besides, there is also a helicopter service linking Zhuhai and Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong Province), allowing visitors to arrive at the destination within half an hour. The Zhuhai Special Economic Zone is at walking distance, immediately across the Border Gate from Macau. Most tour operators in Macau offer packages to China including application of visas, bokking of tickets, luggage handling, hotel reservations, transfers and other related services.
All travellers entering or leaving Macau must be holders of valid passports or some others valid travel documents.
Portuguese Nationals with an identity card are permitted to enter the territory without a passport for an unlimited stay.
If travel arrangements are made through an agent, the visa processing is handled by Macau operator.
A. Visas are required by all visitors except:
a) Nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, People's Republic of China, Republic of Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and Uruguay for a stay of less than 20 days;
b) Hong Kong residents with Hong Kong Identity Card can stay in Macau for a period of up to 90 days;
B. Visas are available on arrival in Macau.
There are three types: INDIVIDUAL MOP$100 for an individual traveller for a single stay of up to 20 days in Macau, children under 12 years of age pay MOP$50.
FAMILY - MOP$200 for couples, husband travelling with wife and or children (under 12 years) of same surname or on proof of their relationship.
GROUP - MOP$50 per person for bona fide groups of 10 or more.
Visas may also be obtained from Portuguese Consulates.
Nationals of countries which do not maintain diplomatic relations with Portugal MUST obtain their visas from an overseas Portuguese Consulate and may not obtain them on arrival in Macau.
International Innoculation Certificates are not normally required unless cholera has been detected either in Hong Kong or Macau or in the area recently visited by the arrival.
On arrival, visitors are not usually bothered with customs formalities, but may be subject to a routine check. There is a 5% ad valorem duty on importation of electrical appliances and equipment.
On departure, there are no export duties on any articles: antiques, gold, jewellery, radios, cameras, etc.
However, Hong Kong customs authorities will only allow visitors one litre of spirits plus 200 cigarettes of 50 cigars or 250 gr. of tobacco into the British Colony duty free. Hong Kong residents are allowed to take in only one bottle of table or Port wine, plus 100 cigarettes 0r 25 cogars.
There are no restricttions on the amount of foreign currency which can be brought in or taken out.
Foreign currencies or travellers cheques may be exchanged at hotels, banks and licensed money exchange bureau.
There are plenty of licensed taxis, all with meters and painted black with a creamcoloured roof, joined by radio-called taxis in yellow colour, Tel:(853) 519519.
Flag fall and the first 1500 meters travelled is 9 patacas. The fare for each subsequent 220 meters is 1 pataca, with waiting time at 1 pataca each minute.
Each piece of luggage carried in the trunk coasts 3 patpcas. Surcharges of 2 patacas for journeys from Taipa to Coloane, of 5 patacas for Macau to Coloane, and 5 patacas for journeys starting from Macau International Airport. There is no surcharge for return trips from the islands to Macau.
Just a few taxi drivers can speak English, so it is advisable to have a bilingual map with you.
A pedicab - a tricycle carriage with seating for two passengers, also known as a trishaw - is a slower but more romantic form of transport. Pedicabs are propelled by bicycles with several gears and are not at all the same as the rickshaw.
The Ferry Terminal and Hotel Lisboa are their two main pick up locations. It's good advice to settle on an agreed fare first. One should expect to pay about 10-30 patacas for a single journey, or about 100 patacas an hour for sightseeing, depending on where you go.
Some places of interest in Macau are located on hilltops, and it is physically impossible for pedicabs to take you up the rather steep inclines.
Bicycles can be hired from shops in Taipa, near the bus terminal. They are not permitted on either of the bridges.
Public buses and minibuses run from 6:45 a.m. to midnight. On all routes within the city, the fare is 2.3 patacas per journey. There are buses (Route 3, 3A, 10, 12, 23, 28C & 32) that provide regular service between the city and the piers for incoming or out going visitors.
There are buses from Macau to the islands with regular departures throughout the day, from 6:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. The fares are: Taipa - 3 patacas, Coloane Village - 3.50 patacas and Hac Sa Beach - 4.50 patacas. Passengers are required to have the exact fare. Try to avoid travelling during the rush hour, when buses tend to become over crowded.
There is a bus stop close to Hotel Lisboa, just in front of a secondary school. You can enjoy a comfortable trip to the picturesque islands aboard an air-conditioned bus.
Bus number AP1 links the airport with the ferry terminal and downtown. It costs 6 patacas.
Mokes - small jeep - like vehicles - painted in bright colours and good for especially exploring the islands, are available for hire at 480 patacas for 24 hours on weekdays, 500 patacas on weekends, with unlimited mileage. Drivers must be 21 years of age and hold a valid international licence.
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