Four hundred years ago the Portuguese arrived in Macao - a small peninsula on the south coast of China - and established a fortified trading post.
Four hundred years ago the Portuguese arrived in Macao - a small peninsula on the south coast of China - and established a fortified trading post. They were the first Europeans to settle in the Orient and today Macao is the last outpost of Portugal's once vast colonial moire.
In the past industries flourished in Macao - and smuggling ??? but life started to change for both the European and Chinese inhabitants after the communist-inspired rich of 1966. Gradually tourism has replaced manufacturing as the colony's main source of income and today visitors are the lifeblood of Macao.
They come to look at the Old Town, where East meets West in the 16th century; 600-year old Chinese temples, ancient fortresses and rococco churches. There's no shortage of luxury hotels and Macao is also a gambler's paradise. Huge casinos offer every conceivable game of chance - both oriental and occidental - and gambling profits have brought great wealth to the colony, earning an estimated 60 per cent of Macao's tax revenue.
Tourists come to Macao from nearby Hong Kong on a fast and frequent hydrofoil service. Most of them are Hong Kong citizens, but Macao is also popular with Australians, Americans and Japanese.
According to statutes approved recently by the Portuguese Revolutionary Council, Macao will soon have complete administrative, economic, financial and legislative autonomy. The Governor will have power to establish and co-ordinate measures for the security of the territory.
Elections to the Legislative Assembly and Consultative Council, made up of local Chinese and Portuguese, are to take place - but foreign relations and international agreements will still have to be approved by Portugal.
Bloodshed and strife marked the separation form Portugal of many of her former colonies. But in Macao life goes on peacefully and profitably - and even the neighbouring People's Republic of China is quite content to let it be.