Macau, officially known as Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the southern side of China. Formerly ruled by Portuguese from the fifteenth century until the early 1900s, this country became a sovereign state of China in 1999. It’s flags have changed between its different rulers and it has also always flown the flag of either Portugal or China.
Since the mid 15th century, Macau was ruled by Portugal and, until 1910, flew only the flag of Portugal. From 1910 until 1999, Macau was allowed to fly a municipal flag along with the flag of Portugal. The flag had light blue background with the emblem of the coat of arms of the Municipality of Macau in the center. This flag was used at sporting events and at the 1999 handover of Macau to China.
In 1999, Macau was handed from Portugal to the Peoples Republic of China, and, again, allowed to fly its own regional flag. Macau must still also fly the flag of the Peoples Republic of China.
The current flag of Macau has been flown since 1999. It has a light green background with a lotus flower above the Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, and water in white. Over the lotus flower are an arc of five gold, five pointed stars. The star in the middle is larger than the other four stars.
The lotus was chosen as the floral emblem of Macau. The Governor Nobre de Carvalho Bridge was chosen for the flag because it links the Macau Peninsula to the island of Taipa. The bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks for the territory. The water beneath the lotus and the bridge symbolises Macau’s position as a port and the role that water plays in the country. The four smaller stars and the one large star on the Macau flag are also seen on the flag of the People’s Republic of China. Macau used similar stars on its flag to symbolize its relationship as a sovereign state to the Peoples Repulbic of China.
Macau had a long history with Portugal but only flew its own flag for the latter portion of this time. It has been a sovereign state of China since 1999 and has flown its own flag since that time. Macau’s close ties to other nations has influenced the flags it has flown over the years.