Capital: Macau Government: Special Administrative Region (PRC) Population: 652,500 (2016) Currency: Macanese pataca Continent: Asia Official languages: Portuguese, Cantonese Area: 30.5 km2
Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. A Portuguese territory until 1999, it reflects a mix of cultural influences. Its giant casinos and malls on the Cotai Strip, which joins the islands of Taipa and Coloane, have earned it the nickname, "Las Vegas of Asia." One of its more striking landmarks is 338m-high Macau Tower, with sweeping city views.
Best known globally as the 'Vegas of China', the Macau Special Administrative Region is indeed a mecca of gambling and glitz. But the city is so much more than that. A Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it is a city of blended cultures. Ancient Chinese temples sit on streets paved with traditional Portuguese tile. The sound of Cantonese fills the air on streets with Portuguese names. You can eat Chinese congee for breakfast, enjoy a Portuguese lunch of caldo verde soup and bacalhau (cod) fritters, and dine on hybrid Macanese fare such as minchi (ground beef or pork, often served over rice).
The Macau Peninsula holds the old city centre, where colonial ruins sit next to arty new boutiques. Further south are the conjoined islands of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane. Taipa has gloriously preserved Macanese architecture, Cotai is home to the new megacasinos and Coloane is lined with colonial villages and pretty beaches.