Macau or Macao (/məˈkaʊ/ 澳門, Cantonese: [ōu.mǔːn]; Portuguese: [mɐˈkaw]), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is a special administrative region of China on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With a population of 667,400 and an area of 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Portugal governed the area under titular Chinese sovereignty and authority until 1887, when it was given perpetual colonial rights for Macau. The colony remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was transferred to China. As a special administrative region, Macau maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China.
Originally a sparsely populated collection of coastal islands, the territory has become a major resort city and the top destination for gambling tourism. It is the ninth-highest recipient of tourism revenue and its gaming industry is seven times larger than that of Las Vegas. Although the city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it has severe income inequality. Its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity is one of the highest in the world and higher than any country in the world in 2014 according to the World Bank.
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