A Brief Introduction of Macao SAR
1) Geographical position and population
The Macao 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. Macao has a population of 420,000 , of whom 97% are Chinese, 11,000 locally-born Portuguese and over 2,000 Portuguese.
2) Political structure
The present political structure was formed in accordance with "the Organic Statue of Portugal" promulgated by Portugal in l976. While the governor of Macao has always been appointed by the Portuguese president and Macao's judiciary is governed by Portuguese laws, the Macao regional government enjoys autonomy in the administrative, economic, financial and legislative affairs. Now Macao is gradually moving towards achieving judicial independence. It has set up a high court and except for individual cases, normally final adjudication is made in local courts. The sovereign organs of Portugal are represented in the territory by the governor (According to "the Organic Statue of Portugal", the governor is equivalent to a minister of the Portuguese government).
At present, the Portuguese Macao government consists of the Governor and seven Secretaries (Secretary for Economic Coordination, Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Secretary for Justice, Secretary for Social Affairs and Budget, Secretary for Administration, Education and Youth, Secretary for Public Security and Secretary for Communications, Tourism and Culture). The Constitution of Portugal provides that the Portuguese Macao Government is accountable to the Portuguese President.
The Macao Legislative Assembly comprises 23 members, 8 elected directly, 8 indirectly, 7 appointed by the Governor. Members serve for four years. The present 6th Legislative Assembly was formed in September, l996. Both the Assembly and Governor have legislative powers.
The Macao Consultative Council is a consultative organ for the Governor, who nominates the members. The Council is made up of senior officials of the Portuguese Macao government and celebrities from all circles in Macao.
Macao is a free port. It used to have such handicraft industries as firecrackers, matches and incense burners for worships, with gambling as the mainstay over many years. From mid-l960's to mid-l980's, with the rapid growth of Macao's economy led by the export-oriented manufacturing industry, a multiple economic structure came into being with the export-oriented manufacturing industry, tourist and casino industry, financial industry, real estate and building industry as the pillar. Beginning from the l990's Macao's economy entered a period of readjustment with its growth rate slowing down. In l998, the annual total volume of output was about 56.2 billion Pat, a drop by 6.3% from 1997. The import and export trade volume totaled 32.7 billion Pat, a drop by 3% from l997. The volume of export was l7.l billion Pat and that of import 15.6 billion Pat, striking a favorable trade balance of l.5 billion Pat. The tourist industry also witnessed a zero growth. A total of 6.95 million people toured Macao, representing a decrease of 0.7% from l997. At the end of l998, bank savings reached 101.001 billion Pat, an increase of 7.2% from l997. Bank loans reached 53.893 billion Pat, a drop by 1.08% from l997. The rate of inflation stood at 0.17%, a drop by 3.33% from l997. The rate of unemployment climbed to 5.4%, an increase of 2.2% from l997.