Colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Pursuant to an agreement signed by China and Portugal on 13 April 1987, Macau became the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on 20 December 1999. China has promised that, under its "one country, two systems" formula, China's socialist economic system will not be practiced in Macau, and that Macau will enjoy a high degree of autonomy in all matters except foreign and defense affairs for the next 50 years.
Surface Area: 25.4 square km
Population: 445,286 (July 2004 est.)
Located in: Eastern Asia
Head of State: President of China HU Jintao
Prime Minister: Chief Executive Edmund HO Hau-wah
Independent since: National Day 1 October 1949; 20 December 1999 is celebrated as Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
Currency: pataca (MOP)