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Ruins of the Church of St Paul (p315)
Monte Fort (p319)
Avenida da República (p324)
Temples (p322)
A-Ma Temple (p324)
Taipa House Museum (p329)
Coloane Village (p331)
Casinos (p340)

Early Settlement

Archaeological finds from digs around Hác
Sá and Ká Hó Bays on Coloane Island suggest that Macau has been inhabited since
Neolithic times (from 4000 BC). Before the
arrival of the Portuguese, Macau had a relatively small number of inhabitants, mainly
Cantonese-speaking farmers and fisherfolk
from Fujian.

The Arrival of the Portuguese

In 1510 and 1511 the Portuguese routed Arab
fleets at Goa on the west coast of India and
Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. At Malacca
they encountered several junks with Chi-


nese captains and crews. Realising that the
so-called Chins, about whom Portuguese
mariners and explorers had heard reports a
century earlier, were not a mythical people but
natives of ‘Cathay’ (the land that Marco Polo
had visited and written about 2½ centuries
earlier), a small party sailed northwards to
try to open up trade with China.
The first Portuguese contingent, led by Jorge
Álvares, set foot on Chinese soil in 1513 at
a place they called Tamaõ, today known as
Shangchuan Island, about 80km southwest
of the mouth of the Pearl River. However, it
wasn’t until 1553 that an official basis for trading was set up between the two countries, and
the Portuguese were allowed to settle on Shangchuan. The exposed anchorage there forced the
Portuguese traders to abandon the island that
same year, and they moved to Lampacau, an
island closer to the Pearl River estuary.

A Trading Powerhouse

Macau grew rapidly as a trading centre, largely
due to the fact that Chinese merchants were
forbidden to leave the country by imperial
decree. Acting as agents for the Chinese
merchants, Portuguese traders took Chinese
goods to Goa and exchanged them for cotton and textiles. The cloth was then taken
to Malacca, where it was traded for spices
and sandalwood. The Portuguese would then
carry on to Nagasaki in Japan, where the cargo
from Malacca was exchanged for Japanese silver, swords, lacquerware and fans that would
be traded in Macau for more Chinese goods.
During the late 16th century the Portuguese
in Macau were at the forefront of all international commerce between China and Japan.
Macau’s growing status was evidenced when
the Holy See established the bishopric of Macau
in 1576, which included both China and J...
Ruins of the Church of St Paul ( p315 )
Monte Fort ( p319 )
Avenida da República ( p324 )
Temples ( p322 )
A-Ma Temple ( p324 )
Taipa House Museum ( p329 )
Coloane Village ( p331 )
Casinos ( p340 )
© Lonely Planet Publications
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