Compared to Las Vegas, which emerged from the railways and the abundance of minerals and energy resources, Macau is much older. And it’s not even in the millennial country, of which this territory has always been apart. It was here, at the mouth of the river Zhujiang (Pearl), in 1513 on the shores of mainland China for the first time landed a European, who arrived here by sea. Overboard the century of Great Geographical Discoveries, the hero was called Jorge Alvares, and he was a subject of Portuguese King Manuel Blessed.
The random place turned out to be very successful, and over the next few decades the Portuguese founded their trading factor there. In 1553, 40 years after the fateful landing of Alvares, a small area called Macau was officially leased by Portugal from the Ming Empire and was under the de facto rule of Lisbon for more than four centuries.
However, then nothing hinted at the current source of prosperity of the city. The basis of the wealth of the colony was intermediary trade. The Ming dynasty imposed a ban on their country’s direct economic relations with Japan, which was used by the Portuguese, who made Macau a transit base between deep China and Nagasaki, a port city that was The Japanese “window” to Europe and the world. Ships of European merchants were transported from Macau to Nagasaki silk, and in the opposite direction – silver. In addition to this trade route, there were other important lines of communication: through Goa (Portuguese colony in India) to Lisbon and Europe, as well as through Manila to Spanish Mexico.
All this turbulent activity has had a very positive impact on the state of Macau. By 1640 there lived about 26,000 people, a tenth of whom were Europeans. From that period to the present day, despite all the fierce development activity of developers, there were many examples of colonial architecture, now looking like aliens in China, and therefore enjoying unfailing success with the public coming to Macau.
As is often the case, the era of prosperity has been replaced by depression after a while. After the outstanding achievements of the Great Geographical Discoveries, the power of the Portuguese colonial empire began to fade. On the trade routes, there were strong competitors, and in the middle of the 19th century, 60 kilometers to the east, Hong Kong emerged, with all the British initiative intercepted the banner of the “European gate” to China. The Portuguese, however, were not particularly discouraged. Their country had a small, ambition- too, and, for example, in the same 1850s, when the subjects of Queen Victoria were building their new outpost on the Julian Peninsula, a key decision was made in Macau, affecting the entire subsequent history of the territory and its modernity. Gambling was allowed in the colony.