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It may symbolize the near token presence of Portuguese culture in a now predominantly Chinese city that owes the larger part of its wealth to the Chinese fascination with gambling and to the efforts of Chinese businessmen and laborers. Although Portuguese sailors first anchored in 1513 and started using the peninsula for provisioning, Macau as a town was founded in 1557.

In 1887, Portugal by treaty received full sovereignty over Macau from China.

This was reversed exactly one century later by a new treaty, ceding Macau to China. Macau is a peculiar amalgam of Portuguese and Chinese culture.

Macau's status as an outpost of European settlement and commerce in China and its air of isolation gave it a special historical identity.

Its population, while politically dominated by the Portuguese and their descendants, was always marked by an admixture of groups and by a steady influx of Chinese migrants.

Since the early nineteenth century the majority of the population was Chinese.

Macau was located on the old "silk route" and emerged as a major entrepôt (intermediary) trading center in Southeast Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Macau is a city in southern China's Guangdong province, and was until 20 December 1999 an overseas Portuguese territory, founded in 1557.

It is now a special administrative region within the People's Republic of China, which agreed to recognize the city's special social and economic system for a period of fifty years.

Before inclusion into China in December 1999, Macau was separated from the mainland by the Barrier Gate (Portas do Cêrco) frontier. The city's population is about 465,000 (1999), with 95 percent ethnic Chinese.

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