Macau lies at the mouth of the Pearl River on the southeast coast of China, 60km from Hong Kong. It comprises a peninsula and two islands, joined by a causeway and bridges. Once part of the ancient silk route, Macau was the first European colony in Asia, under Portuguese rule from 1550 to 1999, when it became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
Macau is the only part of China that permits casino gambling, carving a reputation as a major tourism destination as a result. It is distinguished by its European heritage and distinct combination of Eastern and Western influences: narrow, winding streets open onto wide pedestrian plazas lined with colonial buildings, beautiful gardens, colourful Chinese shops and temples.