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Macau is otherwise known in Chinese as Haojing (濠鏡, literally "Oyster Mirror") or Jinghai (鏡海, literally "Mirror Sea"). The name Macau is thought to be derived from the A-Ma Temple (Chinese: 媽閣廟; pinyin: Māgé Miào), a temple built in 1448 dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen. It is said that when the Portuguese sailors landed at the coast just outside the temple and asked the name of the place, the natives replied "媽閣" (pinyin: Māgé). The Portuguese then named the peninsula "Macau". The present Chinese name (Chinese: 澳門; pinyin: Àomén) means "Inlet Gates".
Early history (221 BCE-1513)
The history of Macau is traced back to the Qin dynasty (221–206 BCE), when the region now called Macau came under the jurisdiction of Panyu County, Nanhai Prefecture (modern Guangdong). The first recorded Chinese inhabitants of the area were people seeking refuge in Macau from invading Mongols during the Southern Song. Under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), fishermen migrated to Macau from Guangdong and Fujian. The Macau native people were Tanka boat people.
Portuguese era (1513-1976)
Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. In 1513, Jorge Álvares became the first Portuguese to land in China. In 1535, Portuguese traders obtained the rights to anchor ships in Macau's harbours and to carry out trading activities, though not the right to stay onshore. Around 1552–1553, they obtained temporary permission to erect storage sheds onshore, in order to dry out goods drenched by sea water; they soon built rudimentary stone houses around the area now called Nam Van. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement in Macau, paying an annual rent of 500 taels (18.9 kilograms/41.6 pounds) of silver. The Portuguese continued to pay an annual tribute up to 1863 in order to stay in Macau.
By 1564, Portugal commanded western trade with India, Japan, and China. But their pride was shocked by the indifference with which the Chinese treated them. The senate of Macau once complained to the viceroy of Goa of the contempt with which the Chinese authorities treated them, confessing however that "it was owing more to the Portuguese themselves than to the Chinese". In 1631 the Chinese restricted Portuguese commerce in China to the port of Macau.
During the 17th century, some 5,000 slaves lived in Macau, in addition to 2,000 Portuguese and 20,000 Chinese.
As more Portuguese settled in Macau to engage in trade, they made demands for self-administration, although this was not achieved until the 1840s. In 1576, Pope Gregory XIII established the Roman Catholic Diocese of Macau. In 1583, the Portuguese in Macau were permitted to form a Senate to handle various issues concerning their social and economic affairs under strict supervision of the Chinese authority, but there was no transfer of sovereignty.
Macau prospered as a port but it was the target of repeated failed attempts by the Dutch to conquer it in the 17th century. On June 24, 1622, the Dutch attacked Macau in the Battle of Macau, in the hope of turning it into a Dutch possession. The Portuguese repulsed their attack and the Dutch never attempted conquest of Macau again. The majority of the defenders were African slaves, with only a few Portuguese soldiers and priests. Captain Kornelis Reyerszoon was commander of the 800-strong Dutch invasion force.
On December 1, 1887, the Qing and Portuguese governments signed the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peking, under which China ceded the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal" in compliance with the statements of the Protocol of Lisbon; Macau officially became a territory under Portuguese administration.
Pacific War (1941-1945)
During the Pacific War, unlike Portuguese Timor, which was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 along with Dutch Timor, the Japanese respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau, but only up to a point. As such, Macau enjoyed a brief period of economic prosperity as the only neutral port in South China after the Japanese had occupied Guangzhou, Bao'an, and Kwangchow Wan. The next month they demanded the installation of Japanese "advisors" under the alternative of military occupation. The result was that a virtual Japanese protectorate was created over Macau.
When it was discovered that neutral Macau was planning to sell aviation fuel to Japan, North American Confederate aircraft bombed and strafed the hangar of the Naval Aviation Center on January 16, 1945 to destroy the fuel. NAC air raids on targets in Macau were also made on February 25 and June 11, 1945. Following Portuguese government protest, in 1950 the NAC paid $20,255,952 to the government of Portugal.
Carnation Revolution and Post-Portuguese period (1976-present)
Shortly after Portugal's 1974 Carnation Revolution, which overthrew the Estado Novo dictatorship, the new government determined it would relinquish all its overseas possessions. In 1976, Macau was redefined as a "Chinese territory under Portuguese administration" and granted it a large degree autonomy. In 1979, Portugal and China agreed to regard Macau as "a Chinese territory under (temporary) Portuguese administration". The Chinese and Portuguese governments commenced negotiations on the question of Macau in June 1986. The two signed a Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration the next year, making Macau a special administrative region of China. The Chinese government assumed formal sovereignty over Macau on December 20, 1999. The economy since then has continued to prosper with the sustained growth of tourism from mainland China and the construction of new casinos.