is the largest continent and the most
populous with over 4.16 billion in. (2011). Asia is the
continent of contrasts; nature, population and business
conditions show great variation. In Asia, almost all
cultural forms are found from collectors and lower hunters
to the most modern industrial culture. Also, societies'
historically rooted organizational forms and strategies for
development are different.
Asia is conventionally separated from Europe by the Ural
and Caucasus mountain ranges and from Africa by the lowland
in which the Suez Canal is located.
Large parts of Asia are far from the sea, and the
continent is characterized by mainland climates with very
large differences between summer and winter.
Asia is both the largest and youngest of Earth's
continents. Most of the Asian continent is part of the
Eurasian Plate together with Europe, other parts belong to
Asia accounts for one third of Earth's land area, but is
inhabited by approx. 60% of the population. Compared to
other continents, there are several different race types and
In Asia, three languages are found, which are also
spoken in other parts of the Euro-Afro-Asian major
continent: Indo-European, Semitic and Oral languages.
Asia is home to all forms of religion. The major
religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zarathustraism,
Hinduism, Buddhism, Kongfuzianism, Daoism and Shintoism
The large differences between the disease patterns in
Asia's individual countries reflect the very large
differences between the countries' economic development and
While in Africa one can follow the very first traces of
man, it is in Asia that one finds the earliest highly
developed societies. From this we know the first testimonies
of farming and cattle breeding in the world, the first use
of metal and the oldest writing.
Asia was considered in Greece from about 500 BC. as one
of the three continents. The borders of Europe and Africa
were usually drawn by the river Don and by Suez.
Macau was ruled by Portugal as a colony for over 440
years before it became part of China again at the end of
1999. Macao was an important hub of trade between Asia and
Europe early on. Later it developed into a gaming paradise.
Tourism is an important industry and today many tourists
come not least from the rest of China to Macao.
Geography and population
Macao, six miles west of Hong Kong, consists of a cape
and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane. The area houses
approximately 607,000 inhabitants on just 21 square
kilometers of land.
Although 95 percent of the population is Chinese,
Portuguese was the official language during the colonial
era, and the administration was dominated by the Portuguese.
Before the transfer to China, however, a transition process
began, in which the Chinese (Cantonese) was equated with
History and politics
After nearly 450 years as a Portuguese colony, Macao in
1999 became part of the People's Republic of China. Macao is
a "special administrative region" and has extensive
self-government. But Beijing is watching the political
development in the region, as well as in Hong Kong, and the
regional government is dominated by Beijing-friendly groups
and gaming companies. Pro-Democratic parties had some
success in the last election of 2017.
From the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century,
Macao was the first trade hub between east and west. 1557 is
usually stated as the year when Portugal established its
colony. When the British founded their crown colony in Hong
Kong in 1841, Macao's economic significance diminished. In
1887, China recognized the area as Portuguese territory, but
Macao's heyday was over.
After the military coup and the revolution in Portugal in
1974, China was offered to regain the territory but
declined. When the two countries established diplomatic
relations in 1979, Macao was instead given the position of
"Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration" with the
governor and state aid from Portugal.
Since the British-Chinese agreement on Hong Kong was
signed, negotiations have also taken place on Macao's
future. In 1987, the governments of Lisbon and Beijing
agreed on a Hong Kong-like solution, and on December 20,
1999, Macao was incorporated in China as a "special
administrative region" with the promise of maintaining its
lifestyle and capitalist economy for at least 50 years.
Businessman Edmund Ho Hau-wah was named China's governor of
the region. He was re-elected in 2004.
To his assistance, Macau's leader has a local government.
There is also a partially-elected legislative council (the
number of seats was increased from 29 to 33 in connection
with the 2013 election). Important decisions are made at the
highest level in Beijing.
In the summer of 2009, Fernando Chui was appointed to
succeed Edmund Ho as the area's chief executive. Fernando
Chui was re-elected in August 2014 for another five-year
term. The election committee that appointed him had been
increased by 100 members to 400. Before that, democracy
activists tried to hold an unofficial vote among the
residents. The vote was about whether Macao's next leader
would be directly elected in the general elections of the
people in 2019. However, the police intervened and quashed
the vote. In August 2019, Ho Iat Seng won the election for
new leader in Macau and in September he was appointed to the
post by the central government in Beijing. Ho Iat Seng and
the new Macau government took office in December the same
In the last parliamentary elections in September 2017,
the people appointed 14 of the 33 members (12 seats go to
various professional and social groups, while seven seats
are appointed directly by the Macau leader). As in previous
elections, Beijing-friendly groups or representatives of the
gaming industry won. They took home nine of the
people-elected seats, while pro-democracy parties got five
seats, one more than in the 2013 election.
In the 2017 election, a young democracy activist, Sulu
Sou, was elected, which judges thought was a result of the
Macau population's dissatisfaction with the authorities'
handling of a powerful storm that had caused great havoc
just before the election. But it wasn't long before the
Legislative Assembly decided to exclude Sulu Sou so that a
legal process could be initiated against him. He was accused
of civil disobedience in connection with previous protests
and he was one of the leaders of the 2014 democracy
protests. Sulu Sou claimed that the political motives behind
the parliamentarians' exclusion of him were low.
Macao retained its capitalist economic system after it
became part of China in 1999. The economy is open and
strongly dependent on the gaming industry. Macao is the only
place in China where casino games are allowed. The
increasing flow of tourists from the rest of China is also
an important source of income.
The most important industries are casino games, which
account for 87 percent of government revenue, and tourism.
There are a handful of casino companies. But the decision
makers are striving to broaden Macao's economic base.
After two years of economic crises from 2014, when the
income from the casino business declined, growth accelerated
again towards the end of the 2010s.
Many tourists, especially from the rest of China where
casino games are banned, are annually attracted to "Asia's
Las Vegas" - Macao is the world's largest gaming center.
Others come to take part in the cultural and historical
attractions of the territory.
In the 1990s, bloody deals between rival leagues, triads,
threatened to scare off tourists. Today, Macao, Hong Kong
and China work together to fight organized crime. In the
second half of the 1990s, Macao was shaken by a widespread
corruption scandal with links to a local government
official. Corruption has continued to be a major problem in