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Macau, special administrative region (Pinyin: tebie xingzhengqu; Wade-Giles romanization: t’e-pieh hsing-cheng-ch’ü) of China, on the country’s southern coast. Macau is located on the southwestern corner of the Pearl (Zhu) River (Chu Chiang) estuary (at the head of which is the port of Guangzhou [Canton]) and stands opposite the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which is some 40 miles (60 km) away on the eastern side of the estuary.
Macau comprises a small narrow peninsula projecting from the mainland province of Guangdong and includes an area comprising the islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are joined by an expanse of land that was reclaimed from the sea and is known as Cotai. Extending up a hillside is the city of Macau, which occupies almost the entire peninsula. The name Macau, or Macao (Pinyin: Aomen; Wade-Giles romanization: Ao-men), is derived from the Chinese Ama-gao, or “Bay of Ama,” for Ama, the patron goddess of sailors.
Macau Peninsula is connected to the island area by bridges. Both the peninsula and the island area consist of small granite hills surrounded by limited areas of flatland. The original natural vegetation was evergreen tropical forest before the hills were stripped for firewood and construction. No part of Macau reaches any great elevation; the highest point, 565 feet (172 metres), is at Coloane Peak (Coloane Alto) on Coloane. There are no permanent rivers, and water is either collected during rains or piped in from the mainland.