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Macau: Macau Art / Culture Profile 2012






Macau Economy Profile 2012

A distinct feature in Macau has been the fusion between the Portuguese and Chinese cultures. With most of the population being Chinese, one would expect the total assimilation of the Portuguese over the past four centuries (as seen in Portuguese Goa, India). However, this has not been the case at least until the past decade or so. Before 1974, Portugal had a permanent military stationed in Macau. Hence, there were always Portuguese men sent to Macau to complete their compulsory military service. Many decided to stay and settle down after their service was completed.

As prescribed by the Basic Law of Macau Chapter VI Article 125, the Government of Macau shall on its own, formulate policies on culture, including literature, art, broadcasting, film and television programs. In addition, the government shall protect by law the achievements and the lawful rights and interests of authors in their literary, artistic and other creation.

People and languages

Macau's population consists of mostly Han Chinese with a minority of other ethnicities. As prescribed by the Basic Law of Macau Article 9, the official languages are both Chinese (Cantonese dialect) and Portuguese, but the primary language of the population in Macau is Cantonese. There is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction.

The Macanese language, which is generally known as Patuá, is a distinctive Creole that is still spoken by several dozen Macanese, an ethnic group of mixed Asian and Portuguese ancestry that accounts for a small percentage of Macau's population.

Signs in Macau are displayed in both Traditional Chinese and Portuguese. In contrast to mainland China, Macau along with Hong Kong and Taiwan generally does not use Simplified Chinese Characters.

Cultural Identity

Although Macanese culture is more Portuguese than Chinese, Portuguese culture almost got out of touch in Macau after their African provinces won independence and Indonesia claimed Portuguese Timor in 1975 and the main language is Cantonese and the main religion is Buddhism. There is no separate Portuguese culture in Macau since most of the culture came from there, then, Macanese culture now influences the Portuguese counterpart. Popularity of Chinese food and Chinese martial arts like kung fu and wu shu (which are studied by Portuguese because of self defense) worldwide made them popular in Portugal.

Mass Media

Most of pop music that can be heard on the channel TDM Teledifusao de Macau (澳廣視 Est. 1982)  is imported from Hong Kong or overseas (e.g. mainly Japan ). However, more and more local songs are being recorded by locals. Some Brazilian TV stations are also broadcast in Macau.


Macanese cuisine is a blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines, with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Lusophone world. The most famous snack is the Portuguese-style egg tart. It is widely popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The most famous Macanese food is Galinha à Portuguesa which is served in numerous varieties in Macau restaurants.


The primary religion is Buddhism. Roman Catholicism has considerable influence in education and social welfare in Macau. However, they only count for about six percent of the population. Protestantism is spreading quickly, especially among the younger demographic groups.

Chinese Traditional Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (i.e. medical practice) is not only a nonremovable part of culture in the sphere of medical education but also a very common and alternative choice of treatment in Macau for people of all social classes. With over 90 percent of its population as Chinese ancestry, Macau has a long history of using Chinese medicine, and Chinese traditional treatment has enjoyed a great popularity. The Faculty of Chinese Medicine  , Macau University of Science and Technology  was set up in the year of 2000.

A Pan-Pearl River Delta Forum and Exhibition for Chinese Medicine was held in Macau from June 21st to 23rd, 2005, which would hopefully raise Macau's ambition to act as an access for Chinese traditional medicine leading to the international market.



Macau International Music Festival is conducted by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macau SAR Government every year. The 20th anniversary of the MIMF is celebrated with a touch of romanticism. Jazz, Classical music, Electronica, Chinese Folk-pop, Rock and Fado will fill Macau's autumn nights with magic. The eclectic programme of 28 performances promises to delight Macau audiences, accustomed to the festival's annual offering of different kinds of music from all over the world.

* List of musical performances in MIMF:
o Jazz
o Classical music
o Electronica
o Chinese folk-pop
o rock
o fado.

Other Lusophone music types popular there are samba, bossa nova, and kizomba.

Cantonese Opera

Cantonese Opera  is quite popular especially in the group of eldery. In 2003, the Cultural Institute of the Macau S.A.R Government, in collaboration with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department of the Hong Kong SAR organized the exhibition " Fong Yim Fun - The Life and Work of a Cantonese Opera Artiste"  . The part of her works (as a well-known actress and opera artiste in Canton, Hong Kong and Macau, Fong Yim Fun performed in more than 150 operas and films) was exhibited in the Museum of Macau  at that time.