Portugal’s last colony in Asia was handed back to China in 1999. Macau (or Macao) is a fusion of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. While gambling and shopping attracts a crowd, Macau has an amazing World Heritage City Centre with fortresses, churches, temples, gardens and museums. There are also some fun and intriguing facts about Macau.
From the world’s highest bungy jump to the second-highest life expectancy in the world, here are 20 Macau facts that will amaze you.
20 Fun Facts About Macau
#1 Macau or Macao?
Macao was the original old Portuguese spelling but as time passed, Macao evolved into Macau in both English and Portuguese.
After the handover in 1999, both Macao and Macau were recognised as correct English spellings, however, Macau was the official Portuguese spelling.
In 2016, the Macao government changed the spelling to Macao, so, the English version of the website spells it as Macao while the Portuguese version flips over to Macau.
Macau or Macao is a unique place to visit in China. Within the Special Administrative Region of China, restaurants, hotels and businesses use either Macau or Macao.
#2 Morpheus is the world’s first free-form exoskeleton-bound skyscraper
Morpheus hotel in the City of Dreams is an architectural masterpiece designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid.
The futuristic 40-storey building is no ordinary Macau hotel.
The infrastructure is described as the first free-form exoskeleton-bound high-rise building in the world and is an impressive landmark in Macau.
It cost US$1.1 billion and used 28,000 tons of structural steel (four times the amount of wrought iron used to build the Eiffel Tower!).
The 35m soaring ceiling in the lobby is high enough to fit two Ferris wheels.
#3 The House of Dancing Water theatre pool is larger than 5 Olympic swimming pools
The show is performed in a theatre that has a pool that can hold 3.7 million gallons (approximately 17 million litres of water) of water.
That’s more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools!
#4 Macau Tower Bungy Jump is the highest in the world
One of the best places to visit in Macau for a birds’-eye view is Macau Tower.
The Macau Tower Bungy Jump holds the Guinness World Record for the Highest Commercial Bungy Jump in the world.
At 233m (764ft high), a sphere-shaped cord that is larger at the top than the bottom distributes the weight of the jumper evenly.
#5 Macau is connected to Hong Kong and China by the world’s longest sea bridge
The 55km (34 miles) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is 20 times the length of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
It links Hong Kong and Macau with mainland China and consists of bridges, tunnels and artificial islands across the Pearl River estuary.
Construction of the controversial bridge and tunnel project cost US$20 billion and is an extraordinary feat of engineering.
The structure is expected to last 120 years and built to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake and super typhoon.
#6 The Cotai Strip is trademarked
The name Cotai was created by combining the names of the two islands it is connected to (Coloane and Taipa).
The Sands Corporation – which operates Parisian Macao, Venetian Macao and Sands Cotai Central – trademarked the name Cotai Strip with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
However, the term “Cotai Strip” is often loosely used to refer to all casinos in the area.
You’ll be surprised to learn that there are many free things to do in Macau on the Cotai Strip.
#7 Macau is the only place in China where casinos are legal
Macau has 40 casinos as is the only place in China where gambling is legal.
The only other place in China where you can place a legal bet is at the horse races in Hong Kong.
#8 Macau has the world’s biggest casino
The Venetian Macao has the world’s largest casino floor, with 640 gaming tables and 1,760 slot machines.
#9 Macau has the world’s first figure-8 Ferris wheel
Studio City’s Golden Reel is not only the world’s first figure-8 Ferris wheel, but it’s also Asia’s highest. The attraction is 130m above the ground.
It’s a themed journey from an Industrial Revolution-themed loading platform that travels around a figure-8 track.
#10 Macau has almost tripled its land area since 1912
Compared to 1912, Macau has grown in land area from 11.6 square kilometres to 30.8 square kilometres.
Macau’s population is 658,900 (2018), according to the Macao government.
#11 Macau has the 9th fastest growing economy
According to the International Monetary Fund (2018), Macau is the ninth fastest growing economy in the world, with a GDP real growth rate of 7%.
Macau has no public debt and is the second richest country/territory in the world, with a GDP per capita of US$83,840.
#12 Macau’s life expectancy is the 2nd highest in the world
You might be surprised that Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world of 84, according to the UN World Bank.
As a comparison, Australia’s is 83, UK’s is 81 and the USA’s is 79.
#13 The Macanese Patua is on the verge of extinction
The official languages of Macau are Chinese and Portuguese.
The traditional language of Macau’s Macanese community is a Portuguese – Asian Creole called Patua that is “critically endangered”, according to UNESCO.
It’s estimated there are around 50 Patua speakers left in the world.
Both Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macau.
#14 Macau’s currency is the Pataca
Although the Macau Pataca is the official currency of Macau, Hong Kong dollars can be used in Macau.
The Macau Pataca is considered one of the world’s least convertible currencies and is very difficult to exchange outside of Macau.
#15 Macau was the last Asian country to remain a European colony
Macau was the first Asian country to be colonised and the last to remain a European colony
The Portuguese occupied Macau in the 16th century, making Macau a base for trade for 442 years until Macau was returned to China in 1999 (Hong Kong also became a Special Administrative Region of China that year).
#16 Macau is a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy
Macau has a distinctive cuisine that is a fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cuisines with hints of other European and Asian influences.
Macanese cuisine has evolved for more than 400 years and has developed its own unique and rich gastronomic traditions with dishes such as minchi, African chicken and Macanese egg tarts.
Macanese is one of the least-known types of food in the world and most people have never eaten in an authentic Macanese restaurant.
Even in nearby Hong Kong, there are only a handful of restaurants that serve Macanese food.
#17 Macau has a UNESCO Historical Centre
Macau’s impressive UNESCO World Heritage Historical Centre has 22 landmarks, including colonial mansions, squares, churches and cathedrals.
The beautifully preserved historical sites are a combination of Portuguese and Chinese architecture.
#18 St Paul’s College was Asia’s first Western teaching institution
St. Paul’s College offered education in arts, philosophy and theology to Jesuit priests, making Macau a base for Christian missionaries in China, Japan and other parts of Asia.
Macau’s Science Centre
#20 Macau has a futuristic Science Centre
Macau’s Science Centre is a futuristic conical building, partially designed by Chinese American architect IM Pei.
It has a planetarium and a spiral walkway on its exterior.