Macau - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Macau's infrastructure and well-developed transportation network were established mainly during the colonial era. Visitors can reach Macau by ferry, hydro-foils, or helicopters from Hong Kong, or by cars or buses from China. The territory's international profile was boosted by opening the US$1 billion international airport built on reclaimed land on Taipa island. It is capable of carrying 6 million passengers and 180,000 metric tons of cargo per year. Macau was eclipsed long ago by Hong Kong as the area's leading port, because its surrounding waters were not deep enough for large ocean cargo vessels. Nevertheless, the Macau authorities made considerable efforts to develop its seaport as an alternative to Hong Kong, and Macau's port is currently able to handle container cargo vessels and oil tankers. In 1993, a new ferry terminal capable of carrying 30 million passengers a year was opened.

Macau is served by a network of 50 kilometers (31 miles) of highways, all of them paved. In the 1990s, there was a steep increase in private car ownership, leading to traffic congestion and rising air pollution. In 1999, there was a total of 55,144 registered motor vehicles or 123 cars per 1,000 inhabitants, an increase of almost 30 percent from the 40,600 cars in 1995.

Macau is totally reliant on imports of mineral fuel for domestic consumption, and these imports accounted for almost 6 percent of merchandise imports in 1999. This makes Macau particularly vulnerable to world oil prices. Electrical power plants, which use imported fossil fuel, have a total capacity of 351.6 megawatts (mw). In 1999 electricity net supply stood at 1.53 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) and imports stood at 194.4 million kWh.

Macau had 70,403 new telephone lines installed in 1999, bringing the number of telephones up to 300,000, or 686 telephones per 1,000 people. The number of mobile cellular telephones was growing rapidly, reaching 55,000 in 1998. Macau has only 2 radio stations—both FM—and no television stations, receiving their television signals from Hong Kong. Macau's Internet service was to be opened to applicants in October 2000, having formerly been a monopoly owned by Macau Telecom.

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