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State structure

On 20 December 1999, Macao became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China under the leadership of a "Chief Executive" appointed by the Chinese President. The Basic Law serves as its constitution (this "constitution" corresponds for the most part to the Organic Statute of Macao which has been in force since 1976).

The Chief Executive (currently Mr Edmund Ho) is assisted in his executive and legislative functions by a ten-member Executive Council. The Chief Executive shares his legislative power with the unicameral Legislative Assembly. The Assembly has 29 members, of whom 11 are elected directly, 11 indirectly and seven by the Chief Executive. All members serve four-year terms.

Macao's judiciary was formally declared independent in 1993. Judges are appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of a special committee.

Macao's judiciary was formally granted independence in 1993.


There are no formal political parties in Macao, but there are civic associations whose members can stand for election to the Legislative Assembly. As most of Macao's civil service and judiciary were held by Portuguese before 1999, localisation processes were carried out as part of Macao's handover to China. These localisation processes involved training local Chinese officials, lawyers and judges and translating legislation into Chinese.

The priorities for the Macao SAR administration are to restructure the Macao economy and to curb the power of the Macao triads, which have large interests in the gaming industry. For the current political situation, see the history section.


Over the last 30 years, Macao has evolved from a manufacturing economy, mainly focused on textiles, to a more service-oriented economy, largely driven by tourism. In recent years, many tourists, especially from China and Hong Kong, have flocked to the "gambling paradise".

Macao is trying, with varying success, to acquire a role as a service centre and 'gateway' to China. A number of major infrastructure projects have been carried out with the latter aim in mind: A new container port was opened in 1991, followed a few years later by the construction of a new airport. Macao is also looking forward to the Hong Kong - Zhuhai - Macao bridge across the Pearl River estuary, which will dramatically cut journey times to Hong Kong.

Some key figures of Macau's economy in 2017 are:

Economic growth is 9.1% Exports amount to $1.4 billion and imports $11.5 billion. The main trading partners are China and Hong Kong. There is virtually no unemployment in Macau ( 2%).


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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