Located on the Pearl River Delta on the southeast coast of China, Macao is a scenic city. Small though it is, Macao has a rich history and cultural heritage. Although it is often grouped together with Hong Kong, Macao has its own quaint charm.
Macao was thought to get its name from A-Ma Temple, a temple to the Chinese sea-goddess Mazu. In the 16th century, when the Portuguese landed near the A-Ma Temple and asked the name of the place, the local residents replied Maa-gok or A-maa-gok (literally meaning the Pavilion of the Mother). Hence came the name of Macao.
Today, the city is classical and modern at the same time. It is a harmonious combination of Chinese and Western elements. On the peninsula of Macao, one can enjoy cultural attractions such as the Ruins of Saint Paul’s, Mount Fortress, Macao Rose Hall, and etc. It seems you can feel the history on those narrow cobbled streets, old banyans with twisted roots and gnarled branches, mottled walls, and Baroque decorations. But on the other side of the city, on Ilha da Taipa, stand various grand, luxury hotels, brightly lit entertainment centers, and modern shopping malls, telling you the modern story of Macao.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland. The Song of the Seven Sons is resounding again in the air. It tells the inseparable bond between Macao and its motherland and the city’s tremendous changes and robust development in the past 20 years.
Macao has made great strides in economic development. According to the figures released by the Macao Bureau of statistics, its gross domestic product increased from MOP51.87 billion in 1999 to MOP424.9 billion in 2018; by the end of 2018, the accumulated fiscal surplus reached MOP508.8 billion, 193 times higher than that in 1999, and the foreign exchange reserve was MOP163.6 billion, 6.2 times higher than that in 1999. This has greatly enhanced Macao’s ability to resist external risks. Macao has now entered a phase of speedy growth, becoming one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
Over the past 20 years, local residents have lived and worked in peace and contentment. The continuous economic development over the years has led to a high employment rate and a spike in income. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.4% in 1999 to 1.8% in 2018 and has since remained at this level.
Macao offers its multicultural charm not only through its architectures blending Chinese and Western elements but also in the harmonious coexistence of religions and ethnic groups. As peace and prosperity reigns, Macao has developed various vibrant festivals, and successfully established its brands as a “City of Events”and a“Creative City of Gastronomy.” As a world-famous tourist destination, Macao attracts nearly 40 million inbound tourists every year. It is said to be a place which helps you forget your age and fatigue and feel reluctant to leave once you’re there.
The past two decades have witnessed great changes in Macao. Now it is a world center of tourism and leisure and a service platform for business cooperation between China and Portuguese speaking countries. Looking to the future, Macao will continue to move forward together with its motherland.