Macau is a unique mix of Portuguese and Chinese cultures and has millions of visitors each year. If you are considering a trip to Las Vegas of the East, we have prepared some surprising facts about Macau to prepare you for the holiday.
1. A misunderstanding was the reason for Macau’s name
According to historians, the name of the region originates from a misunderstanding between Portuguese sailors and local citizens. When Portuguese sailors first arrived on the island, they asked the locals what its name was. Locals misunderstood them, however, and told them the name of the local temple, named “A-Ma-Gau”. Of course, Portuguese sailors had no idea they had been told the name of the near temple and not the name of the island, they began calling the area “A-Ma-Gau”, hence the current name Macau.
2. The second-richest place in the world
It will not be a mistake to say that Macau is the greatest beneficiary of its gambling industry. The International Monetary Fund dubbed the region the second richest territory/country in the world in October 2017. The territory’s GDP per capita is $114,430. In addition, the territory does not have any public debt and its fiscal reserves amountes to $55 billion at the dawn of 2016.
3. The most densely-populated region
Other places might seem overpopulated, but the key to Macau’s dense population is its small size. According to statistics, 650,834 people squeeze into 30.5 square kilometers, which makes it the most densely populated territory – there are more than 55,500 people per square mile!
And, believe it or not, Macau welcomed a total of 32.6 million tourists.
4. The government pays the locals
Since there are enormous annual profits from casino taxes, the government awards permanent Macau residents with 9,000 patacas (roughly $1,200) and non-permanent residents 5,400 patacas, or $670. Interestingly, the sum is not to change, and has remained thus for four years.
5. Macau was Europe’s first and only Chinese colony
Macau, which was leased to Portugal in 1557 remains Europe’s first and last colony in China. China leased its island as a trading post, and it became an official Portuguese territory in 1887. Eventually, China got its island back in 1999.
Nowadays, the 450 years of Portuguese influence have left a mesmerising mark. Both culture and architecture are a fusion of Portuguese and Chinese civilisations. That is not all – Portuguese is still the official language.
6. Locals speak one of the most critically endangered languages.
Patuá is a creole language – a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese, which developed in Macau and became Macau’s indigenous Eurasian (Macanese) community’s official language. As of 2000, an estimated 50 people speak Patuá. In 2009, UNESCO classified Patuá as a “critically endangered” language.
In an attempt to preserve the Patuá language and the Macanese culture, locals organise a festival each year where they perform plays in Patuá. The plays have Chinese, Portugal, and English subtitles.
7. Macanese cuisine – the first fusion cuisine in the world
Not surprisingly, given the fact that Portuguese people have lived on the island for more than 400 years, Macanese cuisine is regarded as the world’s first fusion cuisine. Macanese cuisine is a combination of Portuguese ingredients and cooking techniques and Chinese ones. At a traditional restaurant, visitors can try traditional dishes like minchi and African chicken.
8. Has a Guinness Record
Macau is a mecca to all adrenaline junkies. There is a reason why extravagant people go to Macau – the island is home to the Guinness World Record holder for the Highest Commercial Skyjump on the planet – Macau Tower, with a platform of 233m (764ft). Incidentally, Macau Tower is not the highest Bungee location in the world: Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado, United States is raised 321 meters (1,053 ft) above the ground, making it the world’s highest Bungee jump.
Still, Macau attracts more visitors than Colorado9. Is the world’s gambling capital
Another fact about Macau, which probably is not all that surprising today as it would have been back in 2007, is that Macau generates three times the gambling revenues of Las Vegas. In fact, the casino industry in Macau is flourishing to such an extent that it accounts for nearly 80% of the island’s economy.
Macau is the only location in China where gambling is legal, which makes it an appealing location for gamblers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and, of course, the rest of the world. There is a reason why Macau is called the world’s gambling capital – the island’s gaming industry generates $33 billion a year, compared to $939.8 million generated by the Vegas gaming industry. More surprisingly, Macau has just 49 casinos, whereas Vegas is a home to 135 gaming establishments.
10. No alcohol to loosen up while playing
Believe it or not, visitors are not served alcohol in gaming establishments in Macau. Instead of offering customers alcoholic beverages, casino personnel in Macau offers clients tea. However, forums say that
there are venues which serve free alcoholic drinks to visitors, but they have to ask the pit boss.
VIP rooms and sections also offer free alcoholic drinks. Nevertheless, Macau is not like Vegas in this matter and since the Chinese culture is not accustomed to tipping, there is no incentive to offer free drinks. Still, visitors are allowed to consume unlimited amounts of milk, coffee, coke, or tea.
Another surprising fact is that table games in Macau casinos do not include so much poker, blackjack, and roulette – in fact, the most popular table game in Macau casinos is no other than Baccarat.