Founded by the Portuguese in the Sixteenth Century, near a small fishermen's village, Macau was the first European commercial outpost in the Far East. Following an agreement between China and Portugal, Macau becam one of China's Special Administrative Region on the 20th December 1999.
The agreement predicts that Macau shall benefit from a high level of autonomy in all matters, except defense and foreign affairs, until 2050.
Macau's Special Administrative Region is directed by an Executive Chief of Staff, responsible before the People's Central Government and elected for a term of five years, by an electoral comittee, composed by 300 Macanese personalities.
Macau, has a population of 544 thousand people, and is located in the South of China, in the Pearl River Delta, about 60 km away from Hong Kong and 80 km from Guangzhou and has a total area of 29,2 square kilometers.
As a touristic destination, Macau has received nearly 22 million tourists in 2009, mostly from Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan.
According to the official numbers, the gambling profits were around 120 383 million patacas (15 047 million dollars). Macau has 33 casinos that belong to the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, Las Vegas Sands, Melco/PBL, Wynn Rsorts, Galaxy and MGM.
The Macanese traditional industries, namely clothing and textile, have been losing its importance in the territory's economic context.
Macau's exportations continue to target mostly the United States of America and European Union markets.
In july 2005, UNESCO decided to consider the historic center of Macau as World Heritage Site.
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