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Macau is the most densely populated region in the world, with a population density of 18,428 persons per square kilometre (47,728/sq mi). 95% of Macau's population is Chinese; another 2% is of Portuguese and/or mixed Chinese/Portuguese descent, an ethnic group often referred to as Macanese. According to the 2006 by-census, 47% of the residents were born in mainland China, of whom 74.1% born in Guangdong and 15.2% in Fujian. Meanwhile, 42.5% of the residents were born in Macau, and those born in Hong Kong, the Philippines and Portugal shared 3.7%, 2.0% and 0.3% respectively.

The growth of population in Macau mainly relies on immigrants from mainland China and the influx of overseas workers since its birth rate is one of the lowest in the world. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Macau is the top country/region for life expectancy at birth with an average of 84.36 years, while its infant mortality rate ranks among the lowest in the world.

Both Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese are Macau's official languages. Other languages such as Mandarin, English and Hokkien are also spoken by some local communities. The Macanese language, a distinctive creole generally known as Patuá, is still spoken by several dozen Macanese. Many signs and establishments make use of Chinese and Portuguese names with English becoming commonplace as well.

Most Chinese in Macau are profoundly influenced by their own tradition and culture, of which most take part in Chinese folk religion, of which the faiths of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, form an integral part. Macau has a sizable Christian community; Roman Catholics and Protestants constitute 7% and 2% of the population respectively. In addition, 17% of the population follow original Mahayana Buddhism.

Since Macau has an economy driven by tourism, 14.6% of the workforce is employed in restaurants and hotels, and 10.3% in the gambling industry. With the opening of several casino resorts and other major constructions underway, many sectors reportedly experience a shortage of labor, and the government seeks to import labor from neighboring regions.

The number of imported workers stood at a record high of 98,505 in the second quarter of 2008, representing more than 25% of the labor force in Macau. Some local workers complain about the lack of jobs due to the influx of cheap imported labor. Some also claim that the problem of illegal labor is severe. Another concern is the widening of income inequality in the region. Macau's Gini coefficient, a popular measure of income inequality where a low value indicates a more equal income distribution, rose from 0.43 in 1998 to 0.48 in 2006. It is higher than those of neighboring regions, such as mainland China (0.447), South Korea (0.316) and Singapore (0.425).

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