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However, Macau did not develop as a major settlement until the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century.
During the age of discovery Portuguese sailors explored the coasts of Africa and Asia.
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They erected a stone marker at Lintin Island claiming it for the King of Portugal, Manuel I.
In the same year, the Indian Viceroy Afonso de Albuquerque commissioned Rafael Perestrello — a cousin of Christopher Columbus to sail to China in order to open up trade relations.
Self-administration was next achieved in the 1840s.
When the Qing dynasty and Portugal signed the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peking in 1887, the treaty terms made Macau a Portuguese territory again until 1999, when it was handed over to China.
The sailors later established posts at Goa in 1510, and conquered Malacca in 1511, driving the Sultan to the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula from where he kept making raids on the Portuguese.
The Portuguese under Jorge Álvares landed at Lintin Island in the Pearl River Delta of China in 1513 with a hired junk sailing from Portuguese Malacca.
Macau was the last extant European territory in continental (on-shore) Asia.
The human history of Macau stretches back up to 6,000 years, and includes many different and diverse civilisations and periods of existence.
Since the 5th century, merchant ships travelling between Southeast Asia and Guangzhou used the region as a port for refuge, fresh water, and food.