Macau is a special administrative region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. It was leased to Portugal in 1557 as a trading post in exchange for a symbolic annual rent of 500 tael. Despite remaining under Chinese sovereignty and authority, the Portuguese came to consider and administer Macau as a de facto colony. Following the signing of the Treaty of Nanking between China and Britain in 1842, and the signing of treaties between China and foreign powers during the 1860s, establishing the benefit of "the most favoured nation" for them, the Portuguese attempted to conclude a similar treaty in 1862, but the Chinese refused, owing to a misunderstanding over the sovereignty of Macau. In 1887 the Portuguese finally managed to secure an agreement from China that Macau was Portuguese territory. In 1999 it was handed over to China. Macau was the last extant European territory in continental Asia.
The human history of Macau stretches back up to 6,000 years, and in