The Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, commonly known as Macau or Macao, is a small territory on the southern coast of China. Administered by Portugal from the 1557, it was the oldest European colony in China until sovereignty was returned to the People’s Republic of China in 1999, at which point it joined Hong Kong as the two Special Administrative Regions of the PRC. Macau has played a unique and influential role in relations between China and the West, especially between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Though most residents of Macau speak Cantonese natively, those on a tour of Macau are likely to hear Portuguese, Mandarin, English, Fujianese, Pilipino, Thai and even the Macanese language, Patua. This distinct creole is still spoken by some Macanese, an ethnic group of mixed Asian and Portuguese ancestry that accounts for about two per cent of Macau's population. Macanese is sometimes also used in the broader sense to describe any permanent resident of Macau.
Besides historical colonial relics, Macau's biggest attraction is its casinos. Though many forms of gambling are legal here, the most popular game is Pai Gow, which is played with Chinese dominoes. Macau is a very popular day-trip destination for gamblers from Hong Kong; service by hydrofoil to and from Hong Kong is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.