The Origin of The Name "Macau"
The name "Macau" is derived from the name of a Chinese goddess, popular with seafarers and fishermen, known as A-Ma or Ling Ma.
According to legend, a junk sailing across the South China Sea one clear day found itself in a sudden storm. Everybody on board was about to give up all hope of surviving this natural calamity, when an attractive young woman, who had boarded the ship at the very last minute, stood up and ordered the elements to calm down. Miraculously, the gale winds stopped blowing and the sea became calm. Without further incident, the junk arrived safely at the port of Hoi Keang.
The young woman stepped ashore and walked to the crest of the nearby Barra Hill where, in a glowing halo of light and perfume, she ascended into heaven. On the particular spot where she set foot on land, a temple was built in homage to her.
In the 16th century, when Portuguese sailors landed and asked the name of the place, the natives replied A-Ma-Gao (Bay of A-Ma). So the peninsula was renamed. In modern usage, Amagao was shortened to Macau.
However, Macau has always displayed an atmosphere which made it different from the surrounding areas. Today it is still this mixture of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures harmoniously maintained and developed by its people that makes this place a specific cultural entity.
Macau is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China since 20 December 1999 and will maintain its social and economical characteristics in accordance to the principle of one country, two systems.
Macau of tiny dimensions possesses the highest population rate in the world but the per capita income is one of the highest in Asia. There is a cosmopolitan atmosphere, tolerant in practices and living experiences, where, as always, Asia meets Europe and where the Mediterranean cultures live side by side with the Chinese one.