Surging gambling revenue and investments in luxury hotels and the entertainment industry has made the former Portuguese enclave of Macau Asia's richest territory, a media report stated today.
Macau has overtaken other locations such as Singapore, Brunei and Japan to take the top spot after gross domestic product (GDP) per capita surged by 27 per cent to $36,357 last year, according to Macau government figures.
The results from the statistics and census service show that in US dollar terms, Macau, with a population of 531,000, is the world's 20th richest economy, the South China Morning Post reported.
This puts the territory, which like Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, ahead of Italy and just behind Germany and France.
The rise in per-capita GDP was buoyed by a 47 per cent increase to $10.34 billion in gambling revenue last year. Investment bank Morgan Stanley has forecast gaming revenue will grow by 23 per cent this year and rise by about 20 per cent per year in 2009 and 2010.
But while the improved growth figures may be good news for the territory's wealthy few, it comes with a down side. The average Macau resident saw median monthly employment earnings rise by only 7.5 per cent last year to about $1,020.
By comparison, inflation climbed by an annualised 9.5 per cent in February, a 12-year high. Rent and medical expenses are rising at a faster rate, by 15.6 per cent for rent and 24.2 per cent for basic medical consultations.