Macao SARE Day is observed on December 20 each year. Since 1999, Macao SARE Day, or Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day, has been commemorated on this day. It’s also known as ‘Dia Comemorativo do estabelecimento da Região Administrativa Especial de Macau’ in Portuguese. It marks the day that the Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macao in 1999. It heralds the end of Macao’s colonial past. This means they are a relatively autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China that maintains separate administrative, legal, and judicial systems from the rest of the country.
History of Macao SARE Day
Macao can be found on China’s southern coast, on the western side of the Pearl River estuary. It’s bounded by the South China Sea in the east and south. Macao Peninsula, Taipa, and Coloane make up the territory. Most of its population resides in the Macao Peninsula, where urban development is concentrated.
Initially developed as a staging port on the long voyage from Lisbon to Nagasaki and a trading post for China-Japan trade by the Portuguese upon their arrival in the 16th century, Macao’s Portuguese traders carried goods between the two countries when Chinese officials banned direct trade with Japan in 1547. After establishing a permanent settlement in 1557, the Portuguese paid an annual rent of silver to the Ming Dynasty of China until 1887. They continued to stay and infuse their culture with the Chinese way of life.
Back in Lisbon, an almost-bloodless coup led by the armed forces called the Carnation Revolution occurred on April 25, 1974. Instead of shooting, soldiers put the flowers they were given in the barrel of their guns. It brought down more than 40 years of dictatorship and ended Europe’s longest-surviving authoritarian regime. The new ruling government made plans to relinquish all their overseas territories. The Portuguese and Chinese governments started negotiations for the sovereignty of Macao in June 1986. A year later, both countries signed a Joint Declaration, which turned Macao into a Special Administrative Region of China. More than a decade later, China assumed sovereignty over Macao. Since then, its economy has continued to prosper from the growth of tourism from mainland China and the construction of new casinos.
Macao SARE Day timeline
The Portuguese colonize the country.
Lisbon grants Macao a large measure of administrative, economic, and financial autonomy, calling it a “Chinese territory under Portuguese administration.”
Portugal signs an agreement to turn over Macao to China in 1999.
Macao returns to China as a specially governed district.
Macao SARE Day FAQs
Why is Macao called Macao?
The name Macau or Macao is derived from the Chinese ‘A-Ma-Gao,’ or ‘Bay of A-Ma,’ the patron goddess of sailors.
Is Macao an island?
It was once an island but land reclamation in the 17th century made it into a peninsula. To mark the separation of the mainland and the peninsula, a barrier gate was built between them.
Is Portuguese still spoken in Macau?
Portuguese is an official language, along with Cantonese. Macanese Portuguese is a Portuguese dialect that’s also spoken by around 1% of the population.
How to Observe Macao SARE Day
Visit a casino
Try your hand at blackjack or go a few rounds on the slot machine. This might be your lucky day! Always remember everything in moderation.
Have a Macao food fest
Savor unique dishes popular in Macao, such as pork chop buns and Portuguese seafood rice. If you like sweet treats, go for egg tarts, Serradura, almond cookies, and sweet beef jerky.
Watch gambling on-screen
See Hollywood stars hit the jackpot! Films like “The Hustler,” “Rounders,” “Casino,” “Rainman,” and the “Ocean’s Eleven” movie series let you in on the game without the risk.
5 Fun Facts About Macao
First and last European colony in Asia
The Portuguese arrived in 1887 and handed Macao over to China in 1999.
Home to all legal casinos in China
Macao has 40 casinos and is known as the “Las Vegas of the East.”
World’s highest commercial bungee jump
The Macao Tower is the “Guinness World Record” holder for the highest bungee jump at 764 feet or 233 meters.
It has the world’s highest population density
The territory is just 13 square miles or 30.5 square kilometers, but it holds 667,400 residents.
World’s first figure-8 Ferris wheel
At 426 feet or 130 meters above the ground, Studio City’s Golden Reel is also Asia’s highest Ferris wheel.
Why Macao SARE Day is Important
It has the second-highest life expectancy in the world
According to the U.N. World Bank, life expectancy is pegged at 84. Aside from factors like easy access to healthcare, Chinese culture also contributes to longevity in Macao. Family and community relationships are considered an important part of their lives.
Its center is a World Heritage Site
It’s a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. In 2005, UNESCO recognized over 20 landmarks in the Centro Historico de Macau as having historical and cultural significance.
It’s an excellent example of ‘one country, two systems’
This political model works for Macao as they have a high degree of autonomy, with China still in charge of foreign affairs and defense. The citizens are considered patriots for keeping the peace and understanding the boundaries of the system.
Macao SARE Day dates