Macao is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China (SAR), the other being Hong Kong. Macao lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, bordering Guangdong province in the north and facing the South China Sea in the east and south. The territory’s area is 30.3 square kilometres (11.7 sq mi) and comprises Macao Peninsula and the islands of Taipa and Coloane. It has a population of 667,400 and a density of 22,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (57,000/sq mi).
Since the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1999, Macao has been governed as an autonomous territory under the “one country, two systems” principle, and maintains its own legal system, police force, currency, border controls, and immigration policy. It is the world’s fourth-densest region.
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, and the last European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s, and gradually extended their control over the hinterland, culminating in the annexation of the territory in 1887. Following the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, the territory was handed over to the Republic of China in 1945. Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy, and is separate from mainland China in many facets of its government and economy. As a Special Administrative Region, Macau maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China.
The territory’s economy is built on gaming and tourism, and is the world’s largest gaming centre, bringing in over seven million visitors each year. Macau’s economy is highly dependent on casino gaming and tourism, and the city has been called the "Monte Carlo of the Orient". Macau's history and architecture are a reflection of its colonial past, with a mix of Portuguese and Chinese influences. Macau is a popular destination for tourists from mainland China, and its tourism industry is a major contributor to the city's economy.
Macau is served by an international airport, and is connected to the mainland by a bridge and a ferry service. The territory is also home to two universities.