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Library of Congress Country Studies

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Population: Estimated 438,100 (official Macau government provisional data as of December 31, 1999); other estimates range from 414,000 to more than 520,000. Population density 18,564 persons per square kilometer (based on the 1999 figure). Macau experienced significant population growth in the twentieth century. In 1910 the population was tabulated at 74,866, had risen to 187,772 by 1950, and approached the 500,000 level at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Age Structure and Aging: 24.9 percent of population are fourteen years of age or less, 67.5 percent aged fifteen to sixty-four years, and 7.6 percent are sixty-five years and older (1998 estimates).

Birth Rate: 12.76 per 1,000 (1998 estimate).

Death Rate: 3.48 per 1,000 (1998 estimate).

Infant Mortality Rate: 4.4 per 1,000 live births (1998 estimate).

Life Expectancy at Birth: 81.6 years in 1998: males 78.66 years, females 84.68 years (1998 estimate).

Total Fertility Rate: 1.27 children born per woman.

Male-Female Ratio: 48.1 percent male and 51.9 percent female.

Annual Population Growth Rate: The Macau government officially reports a nearly 4 percent growth rate. However, foreign statistics indicate a lower rate, at 1.91 percent, reflecting the discrepancies between official and unofficial population estimates.

Migration: The net migration rate is 9.78 migrants per 1,000 (1998 estimate). Population growth is stimulated by the arrival daily of about 20,000 people via the Macau-Hong Kong ferry and almost 50,000 via the Macau-Zhuhai border. The Ministry of Public Security of China announced in January 2000, that Guangdong residents separated from their spouses in Macau before December 31, 1987 may reside in Macau. For residents from other provinces, the cutoff date is December 31, 1994.

Ethnic Groups and Origins: Han Chinese comprise 95 percent, Portuguese 3 percent, and other 2 percent. Of these, 44.4 percent are born in Macau, 46.9 percent in China, and 8.7 percent elsewhere. Only 41.5 percent have lived in Macau since birth; 39.9 percent have lived there ten or more years and 27.7 percent have lived there less than ten years. Although while the term Macanese is used to describe citizens of Macau, the word also is taken to have various meanings, and has been applied to biracial Chinese-Portuguese individuals, persons of pure Portuguese descent, and Chinese or mixed Chinese-Portugese individuals who have been baptized and taken Portuguese names.

Language: 96.1 percent speak Chinese, 1.8 percent speak Portuguese, 2.1 other languages. Predominantly Yue (Cantonese) dialect is spoken; some, but very few, residents are bilingual in Portuguese and Yue. Putonghua (standard spoken Chinese based on Beijing dialect) is becoming increasingly widespread among those in public and commercial service. Both Portuguese and Chinese are official languages. English is used throughout Macau's tourism sector.

Education: There is compulsory five-year primary education and free education for up to nine years. For 1998-99, the government reported 107,419 students of all ages as follows: 17,354 kindergarten students; 48,269 primary students; 28,543 secondary students; 3,239 technical and vocational secondary students; 10,014 higher education students, including teaching and nursing trainees; 47,504 persons in adult education; and 494 special education students. Ninety percent of education is offered by private-sector institutions. In 2000, six kindergartens (three levels), eight primary schools (six grades), two secondary schools (six grades), and nine postsecondary schools were officially recognized by the government. The Universidade de Macau (Aomen Daxue) was established in 1991 as the successor to Universidade da Ásia Oriental (Dongya Daxue), which had been established in 1981 from three smaller colleges. Other key institutions include Macau Polytechnic; the Macau Armed Forces College, which trains police, customs and excise and maritime police, and fire service officers; the Institute of Tourism Education, which focuses on training for tourism industry; the International Institute of Software Technology of University of the United Nations; and the Institute of European Studies. The Macau government also provides financial support to private institutions of higher education, including the International Open University of Asia (Macau) and several Portuguese-language Catholic colleges. Curricula are in Portuguese, Chinese, and English.

Literacy: 90 percent of population age fifteen and over can read; 93 percent of males and 86 percent of females have achieved basic literacy.

Religion: Buddhist represent 45 percent, Roman Catholic 7 percent, Protestant 1 percent, other (Hindus, Muslims, and others) 1.2 percent, and no religion 45.8 percent. Large Roman Catholic churches are major cultural fixtures in the traditional European areas, and numerous Buddhist and Daoist shrines and temples are found throughout predominantly Chinese neighborhoods. Christian and Chinese religious sites can be found in close proximity throughout many parts of Macau.

Street-side shrine



A street-side shrine in central Macau.
Courtesy Robert L. Worden

Health Care: In 1995, there were 880 beds in thirty-four hospitals and clinics served by some 300 physicians and 680 nurses. There was one physician and one nurse per 488 inhabitants in 1999. Per capita public health spending is about 1,500 Macau patacas (MPtc, also shown as M$ or MOP, using a two-digit abbreviation for Macau, MO) per annum. In order of precedence, circulatory diseases, neoplasms, and respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death.

Data as of August 7, 2000

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