Macao – located on the western bank of the Pearl River Delta in southern Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China – adjoins the Mainland city of Zhuhai and lies some 60 kilometres to the west of Hong Kong. Macao comprises Macao Peninsula, Taipa and Coloane. Macao Peninsula is the hub of the territory and is connected to Taipa by three bridges. Several large international hotel resorts – with new supporting infrastructure – are located on the reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane in the newly developed district known as Cotai.
The Portuguese arrived and settled in Macao in the mid 16th Century. Thus, the city’s architecture, art, religion, traditions, food and community reflect the integration of Chinese, Western and Portuguese cultures. Macao became a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China on 20th December 1999 and exercises a high degree of autonomy under the principle of “One country, two systems”. The SAR is growing in size with more buildings on reclaimed land, and in the number and diversity of its attractions. In 2005, The Historic Centre of Macao was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a result of its unique historical and cultural landscape. Macao is currently positioning itself as the World Centre of Tourism and Leisure as it develops into a quality international tourist destination.
Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages, Cantonese being most widely spoken. The official languages are used in government departments in all official documents and communications. English is generally used in trade, tourism and commerce.
The Pataca (MOP) is divided into 100 avos and it is Macao’s official currency. There are banknotes and coins in the following denominations: Coins: 10, 20 and 50 avos; 1, 2, 5 and 10 Patacas. Banknotes: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Patacas. Roughly 8 Patacas is equivalent to 1 US Dollar. There are no restrictions on the amount of currency, which can be brought in or taken out of the territory.
Located in the subtropical climate zone, Macao has moderate climate conditions throughout the year. Annual average temperature is about 23ºC (73ºF) and ranges from 20ºC (68ºF) to 26ºC (79ºF). Humidity levels are high in the city, where the average annual relative humidity tops 79%. The average annual rainfall measures about 2,058 mm in Macao, with the rainy season falling between May and September every year.
October to December is the most pleasant season to visit Macao, when visitors can enjoy warm autumn days with low humidity. January, February and March are the winter months with relatively cold but sunny weather, when it slowly gets warm again in April. From May to September, the weather becomes hot and humid with more rainy days and occasional tropical storms (known as typhoons).
In summer, visitors are advised to wear light cotton clothes for a pleasant journey in Macao; while woolens are recommended along with a thick jacket or an overcoat to keep warm during winter. It is great to bring along cardigans or sweaters in spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November) as nights are cooler during the two seasons.