Macau or Macao is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) on the southern coast of the People’s Republic of China and is among the top tourist and gaming destinations in the country. The human history of Macau goes back to over 6000 years ago. Following centuries of Dynasty rule, the Portuguese anchored in the region in 1513 and in 1557, Macau became a Portuguese colony. It remained under the jurisdiction of Portugal’s colonies until the 1840s.
PORTUGUESE RULE (the 1880s to 1999)
Macau became Portuguese territory once again following the signing of the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Perking in 1887. This was the official state of things until 1999 when China was handed back the region. This makes Macau the last extant European colony in continental Asia.
In the history of Macau, this period witnessed interesting events. It served as a refugee center during the Second World War, which saw its population increase within a very short period of time. Macau’s gambling industry kick off in the 1960s after the government granted a syndicate of Macau and Hong Kong businesspersons (STDM) monopoly rights to gambling ventures.
STDM operated westernized games and developed transport between Hong Kong and Macau. This resulted in an influx of tourists from Hong Kong every year. Macau witnessed considerable development over the next three decades.
HANDOVER TO CHINA (1999- Present)
The People’s Republic of China and Portugal began establishing diplomatic ties in the early 1980s. During this time, Beijing recognized Macau as Chinese territory under Portuguese administration. The signing of the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau in 1987 paved the way for Macau to become an SAR of China in December 1999 complete with constitutional law.
2002 marked the beginning of Macau as an Asia gambling hub after the government granted three casino operating concessions to a conglomerate of organizations. Hotel and Casino construction boomed beginning in 2004. These and complementary businesses provided the Macau government with a major income stream and a reduction in unemployment rates.
However, Macau fell victim to the 2007-2008 financial crisis that affected numerous economies around the world. This resulted in the stalling of some major project and a significant increase in unemployment. As the crisis ease between 2011 and 2013, Macau witnessed considerable revival with several residential and business projects commencing.
Starting June 2014, Macau’s yearly gambling revenues decline for the first time in as many years. As a result, the government took an initiative to expand the economy and depend less on gambling as a revenue source.
It is worth nothing that the decline has been attributed to a number of reasons. These include China’s slowing economy, China’s anticorruption initiative affecting Macau and changes in Domestic tourism trends among Mainland Chinese citizens.