The Macao Special Administrative Region, including the Macao Peninsula, Taipa Island and Coloane Island, is located south of Guangdong Province at the western bank of the Pearl River Estuary. It is contiguous to Gongpei of Zhuhai City, lying close to the South China Sea in the south. It is separated by a river from Wanchai of Zhuhai City in the west and faces Hong Kong in the east by the sea, with a distance of 42 nautical miles. There are passenger services of jet and other steamers between the two places. Its total area covers 23.5 square kilometers. The Macao Peninsular, Taipa Island and Coloane Island are connected by the Friendship Bridge, Macao-Taipa Bridge and a highway. Being subtropical in the typhoon zone, Macao has a warm and humid weather with plenty of rainfall.
The hand-over in 1999 signaled the surrender of the final piece of Asian soil under European colonial control. In Macau itself, this colonial historical legacy is nowhere more obvious than at the site of the Bella Vista hotel. Once a glorious colonial style hotel, it is now the residence of the Portuguese consul. The Chinese government has promised to allow Macau to continue as it was before under the "one country two systems" policy. Macau has been made a designated Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the Chief Executive of the region is chosen by an electoral college consisting of local representatives. In practice the hand-over was surrounded by less pomp and circumstance than Hong Kong's hand- over in 1997 and day to day life in the region appears to have continued pretty much as before.
Macao has a population of 420,000 , of whom 97% are Chinese, 11,000 locally-born Portuguese and over 2,000 Portuguese. This is an area with a fantastic mix of culture. The majority of the population is Chinese and the common language is Cantonese although Mandarin Chinese, English and Portuguese are all spoken too. The financial success of the region is due largely to the influx of tourists who come here to visit and to play in Macau's most famous sites: the Casinos. But casinos are not all that Macau is about. Until December 1999, Macau was Europe's oldest colony. As such, this is a city of amazing and fascinating cultural wealth. The unique blend of European and Oriental cultures existing here creates a pleasurable and laid back atmosphere in a truly beautiful city. Palm trees line the Portuguese named streets, Churches, Cathedrals and forts sit tight with ancient Chinese temples and buildings. The parks here are quaint and there are some great beaches and restaurants too. The most prosperous and impressive area of the city is around the Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral, itself a symbol of the fusion of cultures existing in Macau.