Macau is located on the Southeast coast of China to the west of the Pearl River Delta. Bordering on Guangdong Province, it lies 60km from Hong Kong and 145km from the city of Guangzhou. Local time is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Macau has been increasing in size as a result of the land reclamation that has taken place around its coastline. It covered only 2.78km² in the 19th century, but now occupies 23.8km², including the peninsula of Macau, and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane which are linked by a six-lane highway 2.20km long.
As of 31st December 2001, Macau's local population numbered 436,000 inhabitants. Population density is over 18,000/km2, and the northern part of the peninsula of Macau is regarded as one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Macau has undergone rapid demographic growth over the last two decades, increasing at an annual rate of around 1.2%. There is also an impressive flow of people in and out of the territory with an average 14,048 passengers entering Macau via the Outer Harbour ferry terminal each day while around 11,368 people cross the Border Gates checkpoint at the border with mainland China. A total of 20 million annual people-flow are recorded.
Macau is an open, varied city and this is reflected in its demographic breakdown. 52% of the total population are female, 23.2% of Macau residents are under 15 years of age, and 71.7% are aged between 15 and 64. 7.3% of the population are over 65 years old. Average life span for both sexes is over 75 years old, the longest in Asia after Japan.
Over 80% of Macau's population have lived in the territory for over ten years. 45% of the population were born in Macau and another 45% were born in Mainland China while less than 10% of residents are from other places.
The official languages are Chinese and Portuguese, while English is widely spoken.
Cantonese is the dialect most commonly used in everyday dealings but Mandarin is also widely spoken.
Buddhist 50%, Roman Catholic 15%, none and other 35%
Macau's climate is warm and humid with a fairly wide variation in temperature over the year. From June to September, the temperature can rise to over 30 degrees Celeuis while it can drop to below 10 degrees Celeuis from November to February. Macau's weather is also influenced by tropical cyclones from the South Pacific Ocean from May to November.
Macau's economy is based largely on tourism, including gambling, and textile and fireworks manufacturing. Efforts to diversify have spawned other small industries, such as toys, artificial flowers, and electronics. The clothing industry has provided about three-fourths of export earnings, and the gambling industry is estimated to contribute more than 40% of GDP. More than 10 million tourists visited Macau in 2001. Although the recent growth in gambling and tourism has been driven primarily by mainland Chinese, tourists from Hong Kong remain the most numerous. Recently, gang violence, a dark spot in the economy, has declined, to the benefit of the tourism sector.