Macau SAR (Special Administrative Region) Establishment Day is observed every 20 December. The day celebrates the change of status of Macau from a Portuguese dependency to a Chinese special administrative region. Thus, it marks the end of Macau’s colonial past.
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Macau’s geography as an peninsula with two main islands nearby has always given it a degree of distinctiveness, but it was still a normal part of mainland China until the Portuguese colonised it in 1550.
During its time as a colony, Macau experienced great economic benefits and became a cultural melting pot. Yet, many were not satisfied with Portuguese rule. After World War II, many of the world’s colonies were fast becoming independent, but Portugal held to its colonies with a tight fist until a revolution in 1974 overthrew the Portuguese dictator.
From 1974 on, Macau gradually moved toward independence. In 1987, Portugal signed an agreement to turn over Macau to China in 1999, which it fulfilled on 20 December of that year. Macau remained, however, as a specially governed district rather than a regular province of China.
Macau SAR Establishment Day is a great time to get out and explore the plethora of tourist attractions in the city. It is especially an appropriate time to visit the city’s historic centre, where you can see old colonial houses, temples, little shops, and narrow cobblestone streets.