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A small peninsula off southern China opposite Hong Kong. With the neighbouring islands of Taipa and Coloane, Macao became a Portuguese settlement in 1557. In 1582, Portugal signed a 500-year lease over the territory. In 1887, Portugal established a permanent claim over the area, but following the overthrow of the military regime in Portugal in 1974, it reverted to its status as Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration. Following agreement about the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1984, Macao's return to Chinese administration under similar conditions became inevitable. In 1987, the Chinese and Portuguese governments agreed that Macao would return to Chinese administration on 20 December 1999 as a Special Administrative Region, in which capitalism would be maintained. Transition to Chinese rule was never as problematic as for neighbouring Hong Kong; Macao's territory was much smaller (less than one-tenth in size) and much poorer (less than half the per capita income). Under Chinese rule, it obtained a relatively high degree of self-government. It received its own Constitution, and was governed by a Chief Executive and a legislative council. Since 1999, it has been governed by Edmund H. W. Ho as Chief Executive, who developed the area's prosperous gambling industry.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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