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Taipa is the smaller of the two islands in Macaumarker Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of Chinamarker (formerly the Portuguese colony of Macaumarker). It is 2.5 kilometres from Macau Peninsulamarker and east of the Lesser Hengqinmarker Island of Zhuhaimarker, Guangdongmarker Province. Macau International Airportmarker, University of Macau, Macau Jockey Club and Macau Stadium are situated in Taipa, and three bridges connect the island to Macau Peninsula.



Most Chinese settlement of Taipa occurred during the Southern Song Dynasty, while the Portuguesemarker occupied the island in 1851. Prior to land reclamation, Taipa consisted of two islands: Greater Taipa and Lesser Taipa.

The 159.1-metre Big Taipa Hill (大氹山) is to the east, and Small Taipa Hill (小氹山) to the west. Central Taipa is plain as a result of siltation and land reclamation. Initially Taipa was connected to Coloanemarker Island only by the Estrada do Istmo (路氹連貫公路); but the town Cotai, built on reclaimed land, has now essentially connected the two islands into one piece of land, which is home to newly constructed mega-resorts, casinos, and convention and exhibition centers as of 2006. Taipa is connected to peninsular Macau by Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge, Friendship Bridgemarker and the Sai Van Bridge.

Taipa is predominantly a growing up-scale residential area, with many new apartment complexes under construction as of 2006.

The names of Taipa

In Cantonese, Taipa has been known by many names over time, including 龍環 (Lung Waan, meaning "Dragon Ring"), 雞頸 (Gai Geng, "Chicken's neck"), 潭仔 (Tam Tsai, "Pool"), and 龍頭環 (Lung Tau Waan, "Dragon's-Head Ring").

The Portuguese and English name "Taipa," according to legend, comes from an exchange between early Portuguese settlers on Taipa and local Chinese settlers. The Portuguese asked the Chinese the name (nome in Portuguese) of the place. The Chinese settlers were local grocery shopkeepers and spoke no Portuguese, but took the Portuguese nome for the Chinese 糯米, "sticky rice", which is pronounced similar to nome in Cantonese. Thinking the Portuguese settlers were asking if they sold sticky rice, the Chinese responded with "大把," pronounced "daai ba" in Cantonese, meaning "a lot." The Portuguese, hearing the response, took this to be the name of the place. There is, however, no historical evidence to support this story. "Taipa" is also what the Portuguese call the clay-mud, rammed into moulds, used to build mud houses in Portugal in times gone by, in recent times referred to as Rammed Earth.

It is also worth noting that, as the great majority of the population in Taipa and Macau is Chinese, most people refer to this island by its Cantonese name, "Tamzai", and most taxi drivers and bus drivers will not understand if asked how to go to "Taipa."

Tourism

Night view of the Old bridge
Ponte de Amizade and the HK-Macau Ferry Terminal


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