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Basic Information

Area: 29.5 km² (224th)

Calling code: +853

Population: 544,600

Official Language: Chinese, Portuguese

Time zone: MST (UTC+8), Local time: 23:22


Macau is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China and is located some 60 kilometres south west of Hong Kong, bordering the South China Sea and China.

According to the CIA Factbook, Macau covers a total area of 28.2 square kilometres and has one of the densest populations in the world. Estimates in 2010 put the population at 567,957 with the majority being comprised of Chinese people (94.3%). The official languages of Macau are Cantonese and Portuguese.

Macau is noted as the first and last European Colony in China and was officially handed over by the Portuguese in December 1999. As part of its “one country, two systems” formula it has been agreed that the country will remain highly autonomous in most matters (except defence and foreign affairs) until 2049 when the transition is complete.

Since its handover the local economy has boomed and driven by thriving tourism and gambling sectors, Macau has transformed itself into a glitzy “Vegas of the East”.

Macau operates a limited democracy presided over by the President of China HU Jintao and the head of government Chief Executive Fernando CHUI Sai-on. The country has no administrative divisions.

Macau participates in a number of international organisations including IMF, UNESCO, UNWTO and WTO. The official currency of Macau is the Macanese Pataca.


The CIA estimated Macau’s GDP in 2009 at $22.1 billion and a GDP (PPP) $18.47 billion. GDP per capita in 2009 stood at $33,000 ranking it the 41st richest country in the world.

Macau enjoys a thriving economy that has experienced rapid growth over the last decade. The country has a large services sector that generates 97.1% of the national GDP, whilst industry and agriculture account for 2.8% and 0.1% respectively.

Tourism and gambling are Macau’s primary economic drivers providing an estimated 50% of Macau’s GDP and 70% of local revenues. According to the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau casinos brought in around $23.5 billion in 2010, four times the amount generated in Las Vegas and establishing Macau as the world’s biggest gaming hub.

In terms of tourism, Macau with its UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town and buzzing casinos, welcomed close to 25 million visitors in 2010, the majority of which come from main land China.

Clothing, textiles, footwear, toys and electronics are the county’s main exports with commodities (in 2009) sent primarily to Hong Kong 38.7%, US 17.9%, China 14.4% and Germany 4%.

Macau also imports a number of products, primarily raw materials and semi manufactured goods, consumer goods, capital goods and minerals and fuels with 31% coming from China, Hong Kong 10.8%, Japan 8.1% and France 8%.


Macau is connected primarily by an extensive paved road system that stretches 413 kilometres and links the peninsula to Taipa by way of three bridges; the Friendship Bridge, the Macau-Taipa Bridge and the Sai Van Bridge. There is also a tunnel through Guia Hill that links Horta e Costa and the New Port Area.

At present there are no railways in Macau, although a light rail system is in the very early stages of construction, which when completed run in a loop around Macau peninsula and cross over to Taipa to the airport. Buses are operated by 2 companies; Transportes Urbanos Macau (Transmac) and Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau (TCM) and form the backbone of public transport.

Macau operates an extensive sea network that transports passengers to and from Hong Kong. The network operates around 150 scheduled services a day and consists of a fleet of ferries, jetfoils and high speed catamarans. A new ferry terminal is also under construction that when complete will act as a major transport hub for transfers between Macau and Hong Kong International Airports.

Macau is served by Macau International Airport that is located at the eastern end of Taipa. As the country’s largest aviation hub the airport operates flights to and from major destinations all over Asia. According to figures released by CAM-Macau International Airport Company the airport handled 4,078,836 passengers and 52,165 tonnes of cargo in 2010.

Macau is also home to 2 major ports, Macau Container Port located on the west side of the peninsula and Kai Ho Port located on Coloane Island.


The CIA Factbook in 2009 estimated Macau’s labour force at 322,000. Largest employment sectors include, gambling 14.2%, restaurants and hotel sector 13.6%, wholesale and retail trade 12.6%, construction 9.3%, public sector 6.6%.

The labour force is predominantly Chinese who primarily speak Cantonese as their first language. Hokkien, Mandarin and English are also spoken.

Macau’s government spends an estimated 2.2% of GDP (2008) on education and according to the last census in 2001 had achieved an overall literacy rate of 91.3%. Currently Macau does not have a universal education system so schools follow either the Chinese, Portuguese or British systems. Ten years of free education is offered to residents consisting of 6 years of primary education, 3 years of junior secondary and 3 years of senior high school. Although many students choose to go abroad to study, Macau enjoys a number of excellent higher education facilities including the University of Macau, Macau Polytechnic Institute and Macau Institute for Tourism Studies.

Official government statistics released in 2010 estimated that Macau’s unemployment rate at 2.9%.

Business Costs

Macau is a free port which means that raw materials and capital goods are free from import taxes, which alongside no restriction on foreign exchange and low taxes makes it a very attractive place for foreign investors.

Personal income tax in Macau is levied on a progressive rate from 7% - 12% for those individuals earning more that MOP 144,000 per year.

Corporate taxation is imposed on company profits (business income, interest income and realised capital gains) and is also levied on a progressive system from 9% to 12% which is the lowest rate in the region.

The employer and employee must pay into the social security contribution fund. The Macau employer contributes MOP 30 per month for each resident employee, whilst the employee contributes MOP 15 per month. Employers are also expected to pay the government MOP 200 per month per employee that holds a work permit.

Prompted by Hong Kong’s decision to enforce a national minimum wage, Macau government is currently discussing the potential for implementing a similar scheme within the city.

There is currently no VAT or Sales Tax in Macau.
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