Welcome to Macau
Situated 65km west of Hong Kong and bordered by Guangdong in Mainland China to the north and the South China Sea to the east and south, Macao's population of about 636,200 live in an area of just 30.3 km2, making it is the most densely populated region in the world.
Macau is one of the world's richest cities, has the fourth highest life expectancy in the world, and is one of only a few regions in Asia with a 'very high Human Development Index'.
Macau is a city with two identities – one dating back to the Qin dynasty in 221–206 BCE, when the first Chinese inhabitants sought refuge from invading Mongols, the other to the settlement in the mid-16th century by the Portuguese, who changed the name of the region from Haojing to Macau.
Thus, the visitor will find the fortresses, churches and culinary traditions of the former Portuguese colonial masters, who brought their Mediterranean style to the China coast, interwoven with the customs, alleyways, temples and shrines of Macau's Chinese heritage. Then there is Macau's status as the 'Vegas of the East'.
The two faces of Macao are expressed in its mix of over-the-top nightlife and fascinating culture. Widely regarded as one of the best party destinations in Asia, gambling is legal here, and amazingly opulent casinos may be found on practically every corner.
But this is just one side of Macau. The UNESCO-listed Historic Centre is filled with fascinating sites that offer much insight into city's history as a colonial outpost and a place where Eastern and Western cultures came together. We particularly recommend that delegates visit the Ruins of St Paul's – once a grand catholic cathedral built in 1602 but now just a single wall poised atop a small hill following a fire in 1835 – and the Holy House of Mercy of Macau, a former orphanage and place of refuge for widows that is located in Senado Square.