Macao, also spelled Macau, is a peninsula and two islands located on the western side of the Pearl River delta. The region stands opposite Hong Kong, which is located on the eastern side of the estuary. Geographically, Macao is comprised of a small, narrow peninsula projecting from Guangdong province and the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which cover a total area of 29.5 square kilometres. Its name is believed to be derived from the Chinese A-mango an “Bay of the Godness for A-ma”, the patroness of sailors.
The first Portuguese ship anchored in the Pearl River estuary in 1513 and proceeded to use the harbor regularly as they expanded their trading empire. By 1557, the Portuguese began renting the area and set up a permanent settlement. Macao thus became the principal entrepot for international trade with China and Japan. After the Opium War, the Portuguese Government ceased paying the rent and seized the land by force, eventually gaining rights to them through the 1887 Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Chinese trade with the outside world was gradually centralized in Canton towards the end of 18th century, merchants were allowed into Canton only during the trading season——from November to May——and the international merchant community was established in Macao. By the mid-19th century Hong Kong had eclipsed Macao in trade, and within a few years the merchants had largely deserted Macao for Hong Kong, and Macao never again reclaimed its earlier significance.
In 1987 Portugal and the People’s Republic of China reached an agreement to return Macao to Chinese rule in December 20, 1999, they agreed upon provisions to insure the autonomy of Macao, including its right to elect local leaders, the right of its residents to travel freely, and the right to maintain its way of life 50 years after the start of Chinese rule.
Today, Macao is the most densely populated region in the world with over 18,000 people per square kilometre. The majority of modern Macanese are ethnically Chinese, but there are still a number of Portuguese descendants living in Macao. The region’s days as a famed center of international trade are long past, and now the economy is largely based on tourism and the production of textiles for export.
The Macao-wide English Speech Contest is an exciting annual event open to all full-time students in Macao as well as to the community of Macao residents. It is organized by the Macao Polytechnic Institute. The goal of the Contest is to promote the use of English in Macao as it enters the age of globalization. Established in 2002, the Contest has continued to grow in popularity. The Macao-wide English Speech Contest also serves as a qualifying round for the "21st Century – Lenovo Cup" National English Speaking Competition, for the Primary, Secondary and University categories. Since 2003, winners of the Macao-wide English Speech Contest have also competed in the “CCTV Cup” English Speaking Contest. The Contest is open to speakers of all ages, with the following categories of competition: Lower Primary School, Upper Primary School, Junior High School, Senior High School, College, and Open. The Contest fosters young talent and provides students with a unique opportunity to improve their English skills and to gain public recognition and national acclaim.