Macau Table of Contents
an administrative region study
Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Robert L. Worden
Unlike other titles in the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series, which are available in both printed and electronic formats, this study was "born digital" and is available only in electronic form on this web page.
Information as of
August 7, 2000
Administrative map of Macau. Courtesy CIA World Factbook, 1998
Official Name: Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China or Região Administrativa Especial de Macau da República Popular da China.
Short Name: Aomen (Chinese) or Macau, Macao, or Ilha de Macau (Portuguese). The name Aomen derives from two geographic features: the peninsula of Ao (meaning bay) and the navigable passage between the peninsula and the islands to the south called men (gate or door). When discussing the pre-colonial period, historians sometimes refer to the region as Haojing (meaning oyster mirror) or Haojingao (Haojing Bay), a reference to the two semi-circular-shaped bays on the northern and southern sides of the lower half of the peninsula. Macau (or Macao in non-Portuguese writings) is the Portuguese corruption of the Yue (Cantonese) dialect word Amakau (or Amagang in putonghua, the standard Chinese pronunciation based on Beijing Mandarin dialect). Amakau means the Bay of Ama, a name that refers to the goddess Tianhou (the Heavenly Maiden) or, as she was known locally, A-Ma (Mother). The A-Ma Temple was formally founded in Macau during the reign of the Wanli emperor (1573-1621) of the Ming Dynasty.
Term for Citizen(s): Macanese
Political Status: Until December 20, 1999, Macau was Chinese territory under Portugese administration. Portugal signed an agreement with China on April 13, 1987, to return Macau to Chinese administration on December 20, 1999, after nearly 450 years of foreign rule. In the joint declaration, China promised to respect Macau's existing social and economic systems and lifestyle for fifty years after the transition.
Flag: The flag of the Macau Special Administrative Region has a green background with five yellow stars and a white lotus flower, bridge, and sea. The stars signify the union of the motherland. The lotus flower, said to be loved by the people of Macau, blooming under the five stars signifies the prosperous future of Macau. The three petals of the lotus flower signify the peninsula and two islands that constitute Macau. The bridge that links the peninsula with the Ilha da Taipa and the sea underneath indicate major characteristics of Macau.
Macau's flag. Courtesy Macau Special Administrative Region
Data as of August 7, 2000
August 7, 2000