Macau, also spelled Macao, along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, and is the largest gambling city in the world (Macau exceeds Las Vegas in 2007 in terms of casino revenue). Macau is located on a small peninsula, opposite Hong Kong. It lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.
Macau is a rich city, with per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about US$38,000. The economy of Macau has remained very open in the world since its reversion to China in 1999. Tourism is the backbone of Macau's economy, and much of it geared towards gambling, which was legalized in the 19th century. In 2002 the gaming industry was liberalized and several casino operators from Las Vegas, like Sands and Venetian, Wynn, and MGM, entered the market. In addition, other casino owners, including Australian Crown Casino and Hong Kong Galaxy Entertainment Group have also opened several hotel casinos in Macau. As a result of the surge in number of casinos and construction from other new casino entrants, Macau's economy has been growing rapidly in recent years. In addition to gambling-related tourism, apparel exports is also one of the mainstays of the economy.
As a creation of the Portuguese, Macau represents a peculiar blend of Oriental and Western influences. This has given rise to a unique and hybrid urban culture, which gives the city an air of romance and nostalgia. The old urban architecture of Macau is one of the most attractive features of the city. Macau was built by the Portuguese, but the Mediterranean-European designs were always given an Oriental slant in actual building, and the Chinese made their own contribution in the form of shrines, temples, and Chinese gardens. The combination has charmed almost all visitors to the place; Macau's historical old city, its churches, forts, statues, parks, monuments, and government palaces give the city a romantic character.
Since Macau has little arable land and few natural resources, it depends on Mainland China for most of its food, fresh water, and energy imports. Japan and Hong Kong are the main suppliers of raw materials and capital goods. Its indigenous languages spoken are Chinese-Cantonese and Portuguese. Mandarin is a second language and growing in influence (for example, it is used in education). English is also expanding as a language in commerce and tourism.
The work force in Macau is mainly composed of gambling, construction, wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, financial services, real estate, and other business activities. Due to the double-digit economic growth in recent years, the unemployment rate dropped from the record high 6.8% in 2000 to 2.7% in Qtr 4, 2010.
With the opening of several casino resorts and the rapid economic growth, it is reported that many sectors experience a shortage of labor. The government responds by importing labor from other neighboring regions, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and India. More and more Americans are now working in Macao as top management.
You are welcome to visit Macao to experience rapid economic growth and different culture. Iím quite sure that youíll love Macao, and even decide to reside here.
Dr. Chuan Pang is an Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management and Administration at Macau University of Science and Technology.
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