Macau, also spelled Macao and officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is a city and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China in the western Pearl River Delta by the South China Sea. With a population of about 680,000 and an area of 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.
Macau is a former colony of the Portuguese Empire after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Portugal paid an annual rent and administered the territory under Chinese sovereignty until 1887, when it gained perpetual colonial rights in the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peking. The colony remained under Portuguese rule until 1999, when it was transferred to China. Macau is a special administrative region of China, which maintains separate governing and economic systems from those of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Originally a sparsely populated collection of coastal islands, the territory has become a major resort city and a top destination for gambling tourism, with a gambling industry seven times larger than Las Vegas.