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Macau, also spelled Macao, along with Hong Kong, is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China. It lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong-Kong which is to the east, bordering Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.
The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, but also includes manufacturing.
Macau was a Portuguese colony in 1887, and is both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 1999. The Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law of Macau stipulate that Macau operates with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.
Under the policy of "one country, two systems", the PRC's Central People's Government is responsible for the territory's defense and foreign affairs, while Macau maintains its own legal system, police force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in many international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty. According to The World Factbook, Macau has the second highest life expectancy in the world.
Macau is situated 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of Hong Kong and 145 kilometres (90 mi) from Guangzhou. It also has 41 kilometres (25 mi) of coastline, yet only 310 metres (1,000 ft) of land border with Guangdong. It consists of the Macau Peninsula itself and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now connected by landfill forming the Cotai Strip. The peninsula is formed by the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) estuary on the east and the Xi Jiang (West River) on the west.It borders the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone in mainland China. The main border crossing between Macau and China is known as the Portas do Cerco (Barrier Gate) on the Macau side, and the Gongbei Port of Entry on the Zhuhai side.
Macau Peninsula was originally an island, but a connecting sandbar gradually turned into a narrow isthmus, thus changing Macau into a peninsula. Land reclamation in the 17th century transformed Macau into a peninsula with generally flat terrain, though numerous steep hills still mark the original land mass. Alto de Coloane is the highest point in Macau, with an altitude of 170.6 metres (559.7 ft). With a dense urban environment, Macau has no arable land, pastures, forest, or woodland.
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