View of the old city in Macau. *Photo from Wikipedia
December 20 is Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day.
The first recorded Chinese inhabitants of the region now called Macau were people seeking refuge in the area from invading Mongols during the Southern Song (1127–1279). Under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), fishermen migrated to Macau from Guangdong and Fujian. The Macau native people were Tanka (疍家 or 蜑家) boat people.
Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal from Ming China as a trading port. The Portuguese Empire administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony.
Sovereignty over Macau was transferred to China on December 20, 1999. Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and Macau Basic Law stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, 50 years after the transfer.
Macau (澳門, lit.”Bay gate”), also spelled Macao, officially known as the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the southern coast of China. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong, which is about 64 kilometers to the east. It is the most densely populated region in the world.
The name Macau is thought to be derived from the A-Ma Temple (媽閣廟; Maa1 Gok3 Miu6), a temple built in 1448 dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. It is said that when the Portuguese sailors landed at the coast just outside the temple and asked the name of the place, the natives replied “媽閣” (Maa1 Gok3). The Portuguese then named the peninsula “Macau”.