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An 18th-century Dutch map that shows Lampecou and Lampetao in the labyrinth of islands east of Macau

Lampacau or Lampacao (Chinese: 浪白澳; pinyin: Làngbái'ào, Chinese: 浪白竈), or Langbaijiao Chinese: 浪白滘; pinyin: Làngbáijiào[1]) was a small island in the Pearl River Delta, which in the mid-16th century played an important role in Sino-Portuguese trade. Lampacau does not exist anymore as a separate island, as sedimentary deposits from the Pearl River system resulted in it becoming a part of a larger island.


The exact location of Lampacau (Langbai'ao) has been a somewhat of a puzzle to the students of the region's historical geography, since both the coastlines and the place names in the area have changed significantly since the 16th century. The Portuguese maps of the period showed it located somewhat west of Macau, but closer to that city than Shangchuan (São João) Island farther to the southwest. According to the research of Chang Tseng-hsin, making use of both Chinese and Western sources, Lampacau has become connected with the neighboring island of Lianwan (連灣山). The name of Lianwan was thus used for the entire "new" greater island, and the name Langbai'ao became relegated to the narrow straight separating Lianwan from the nearby Wenwan Island (文灣山).[2] This would make the location of the former Lampacau Island to be within today's Jinwan District of the Prefecture-level city of Zhuhai, some 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Macau, and much closer than that to Zhuhai Sanzao Airport.


Over the last 100 years, there has been a lively debate of what the "proper" name of the island was during its heyday. The most recent survey of the literature on that topic is probably the page-long note in Witek & Sebes 2002, p. 86. Witek and Sebes list the following spelling variants in the European languages (primarily Portuguese), culled from earlier sources: Lampacau, Lampacam, Lam Puk, Lanpacan, Lampachan, Lampchào, Lamapacào, Lamapzan, Lanpetan, Lampaço; Lan-pai-kao (in Mandarin) and Long-pa-kao (in Cantonese); Langpetsao (in J.R. Morrison). They note that the character 滘 (Cantonese Jyutping: gaau3, with the notional value jiao in Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin) is a Cantonese character, and does not often appear in standard Chinese dictionaries; thus it is only natural that the name of the place would be written differently in most Chinese sources.[3]


Lampacau became important for the international trade c. 1550, when the center of the Portuguese offshore trade in the Pearl River Delta region gradually shifted there from the more remote Shangchuan (São João) Island. Roderich Ptak speculates that it was a more convenient base for the transhipment of cargoes from and to small Chinese river boats traveling from and to the interior of Guangdong.[4]

The brief period of Lampacau's significance ended some time c. 1560, as the Portuguese trade moved to the recently established permanent base, Macau.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Langbaijiao is the preferred spelling of Witek and Sebes (Glossary in Witek & Sebes 2002, pp. 83,86; "Afonso Ramiro, prisoner, to the Portuguese on Langbaijiao". Document 48 in Witek & Sebes 2002, pp. 257-271
  2. ^ Ptak 1992
  3. ^ Witek & Sebes 2002, p. 86
  4. ^ 1992
  5. ^ 1992


Coordinates: 22°04′37″N 113°26′24″E / 22.077°N 113.440°E / 22.077; 113.440