Macau is a former Portuguese colony in southern China, 60km to the west of Hong Kong. The Portuguese settled the area in 1557, creating a colony and a trading centre with China. The colony was returned to China in 1999, which converted it into a special administrative region. Macau kept its economic system, while the Chinese manage its defense and foreign affairs. Macau's economy is based to a large extent on tourism and on gambling, with other economic sectors being textile manufacturing, banking and financial services.
Macao consists of the Macau peninsula and the former islands of Taipa and Coloane, which now have been merged through land reclamation. Its population consists overwhelmingly of Chinese, with a small minority of Macanese, the descendants of Chinese and Portuguese intermarriages. Its cultural and historical heritage is mixed Portuguese-Chinese. Lots of architecture in Macau is typically Portuguese and the official languages are Portuguese and Chinese. Overall the atmosphere in Macau �s much more laid back and less frenetic than Hong Kong.
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