Portuguese Macau

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Portuguese colony
"Hymno Patriótico" (1808–26)
Patriotic Anthem

"Hino da Carta" (1826–1911)
Hymn of the Charter

"A Portuguesa" (1911–99)
The Portuguese
Capital Macau
Religion Christianity
Political structure Colony
Head of state
 •  1557 King John III (first)
 •  1996–99 President Jorge Sampaio (last)
 •  1557–58 Francisco Martins (first)
 •  1991–99 Vasco Joaquim Rocha Vieira (last)
Legislature Legislative Assembly
Historical era First wave of European colonization
 •  Permanent Portuguese settlement established 1557
 •  Colony proclaimed 1847
 •  Treaty of Peking December 1, 1887
 •  Joint Declaration April 13, 1987
 •  Transferred to China December 20, 1999
Currency Macanese pataca (from 1894)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ming dynasty
Today part of  Macau
Proposed flag for Portuguese Macau.

Portuguese Macau was the period of Macau as a Portuguese colony and later, an overseas province under Portuguese administration from 1557 to 1999. Macau was both the first and last European colony in China.[1][2]


Portuguese traders first settled on the Macau Peninsula in the 16th century; in 1557, it was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port. It was eventually walled off from the rest of Zhongshan Island (then "Xiangshan") and placed under the administration of a mandarin subprefect resident at Qianshan. Green Island offshore was settled by the Jesuits and later joined to the mainland by bridge and land reclamation.

The Portuguese came to consider and administer the territory as a de facto colony. Following the signing of the Treaty of Nanking between China and Britain in 1842 and the establishment of Hong Kong as a rival free port, the Macanese expelled the Chinese customs agents in a bid to remain competitive. Following the signing of treaties between China and foreign powers during the 1860s, establishing the benefit of 'the most favored nation' for them, the Portuguese attempted to conclude a similar treaty in 1862 but the Chinese refused, owing to continuing disagreements over the sovereignty of Macau; in 1887 the Portuguese finally managed to secure an agreement from China that Macao was Portuguese territory, ending 330 years of uncertainty.[3]

Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999, the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau and the Macau Basic Law stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.[4]



Panoramic photograph of Macau, taken by Jules Itier in the 19th Century, on top of the Penha Hill. The city of Macau on its peninsula with both the outer and inner harbours are visible. Also visible is the outlying island of Ilha Verde (center) and Lapa island (left side), the latter then being part of Macau, reverting to China after the Japanese Invasion in the Second World War. Taipa and Coloane are the only islands of Macau not visible in this portrait. In the background, mountains in the Zhuhai area can be seen.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bong Yin Fung (1999). Macau: a General Introduction (in Chinese). Joint Publishing (H.K.) Co. Ltd. ISBN 962-04-1642-2. 
  2. ^ "Macau and the end of empire". BBC News Online. 18 December 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  3. ^ Robert Nield, "Treaty Ports and Other Foreign Stations in China", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Hong Kong Branch, Vol. 50, (2010), p. 127.
  4. ^ "Content of Basic Law of Macau". University of Macau. Retrieved 7 January 2008. 

External links[edit]