Macau occupies a small peninsula and two islands off China’s southern coast, close to Hong Kong.

The name Macau, or Macao (Aomen in Chinese), is derived from the Chinese Ama-gao, or “Bay of Ama,” for Ama, the patron goddess of sailors.

Macau is a former colony of Portugal, which laid anchor in the region in the early 16th century. Trade with China started soon after.

The region became a hub of international trade between the east and west, but China refused to recognize it as a Portuguese territory.

During the 1930 and 40s became a refuge for both Europeans and Chinese, while the latter’s population in the region continued to grow when the communist government assumed power in 1949.

In 1951 Portugal officially made Macau an overseas province.

Following a military coup in Portugal in 1974, the government allowed for more administrative autonomy and economic independence to Macau

In April 1987 Portugal and China reached an agreement to return Macau to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, using the Hong Kong Joint Declaration between Britain and China as a model.

Thus on December 20th, 12 years after an agreement was reached between the two countries, centuries of Portuguese rule ended and Macau became a administrative region under Chinese rule.