QUICK FACTS ABOUT TAIWAN

Taiwan and its surrounding islands, situated in East Asia at the northwestern edge of the Pacific, possess an endless variety of terrains, forests, agricultural products, and marine ecologies, as well as a diversity of ethnic cultures along with enchanting human customs and practices. You may get to know about Taiwan from the information as below.

WHERE IS TAIWAN?

off the eastern and southeastern coasts of the Asian continent, lies a chain of island groups stretching from Russia’s Sakhalin Island to Indonesia’s myriad islands. Situated at the middle of the island chain, between Japan and the Philippines, is the island of Taiwan. Taiwan measures approximately 400 kilometers from north to south and around 145 kilometers from east to west at its widest.

Major cities

  • TAIPEI

    With a population of nearly 2.7 million, Taipei City is located in northern Taiwan, including the northeastern part of the Taipei Basin and the surrounding hills. It is divided into twelve administrative districts covering an area of 271 square kilometers. Taipei is home to a diverse population including indigenous people, Minnanese, Hakkas, mainlanders, new immigrants, and expats. Compared to other major cities on Taiwan’s west coast, Taipei developed fairly late. Prior to large-scale immigration of Han Chinese from southern Taiwan in the early 18th century, the Taipei area inhabited mainly by plains indigenous peoples. In 1884, the Qing court officially moved Taiwan’s administrative capital from Tainan to Taipei and erected a large wall to protect the city, marking a significant economic and power shift towards the north. Since then, Taipei has been Taiwan’s political, economic and cultural center.

  • NEW TAIPEI CITY

    Surrounding the country’s capital, New Taipei City covers an area of just over 2000 square kilometers and has a population of over 3.9 million. Its proximity to Taipei has helped New Taipei City develop as a major concentration of industry and commerce, and 70% of the population originally hails from other parts of Taiwan. The administrative center of New Taipei City is located in the Banqiao district, which is also the most populated and thriving area of the city.

    The city’s region was once inhabited by Taiwan’s Plain Indigenous People. Immigration by ethnic Han Chinese began in 1620 A.D. The Tamsui River runs through Taipei north to the ocean and the Tamsui District at the mouth of the Tamsui River was established as an international commercial port in 1850, serving as a critical transport and warehousing hub for Taiwan’s tea exports. Taiwan’s tea trade was so important to the British that they established a consulate here to facilitate exports to Europe. 

    With the Japanese retreat from Taiwan in 1945, the incoming Republic of China (Taiwan) government established Taipei City and Keelung City into provincial administrative municipalities while making the rest of then Taipei region into Taipei County. In 2010, Taipei County was officially upgraded to a special municipality called New Taipei City.

  • TAOYUAN

    Taoyuan city lies west of New Taipei City, directly across the Taiwan Strait from China’s Fujian province, and migration from China in the 18th century established Taoyuan as a thriving area of commerce and transport. Since 1979, Taoyuan has been the site of Taiwan’s largest international airport, making the city Taiwan’s key gateway to the outside world. On its own, Taoyuan is Taiwan’s 4th largest city, and was upgraded to a special municipality in 2010, leading to deeper integration into the Greater Taipei Area.

    Taoyuan is a melting pot of different cultures including Hakka, Minnan, mainlander Chinese immigrants, indigenous people, and new immigrants. Nearly 40% of the population is Hakka, making Taoyuan a key center of Hakka culture and giving the city a unique vitality.

  • TAICHUNG

    Taichung, literally ‘the center of Taiwan’, is the largest city of central Taiwan. Before the 18th century, the central area of Taiwan was controlled by the “Kingdom of Middag,” an alliance of indigenous tribes. The Qing court initially included Taiwan as a part of Fujian province, but decided in the late 19th century to establish Taiwan as a province in its own right. The Taichung area was initially selected as the site of the new provincial capital, and construction began on a new capital city to be called  “Taiwan County.” However, budget problems interrupted construction and the capital was relocated to Taipei. In 1896, the incoming Japanese colonial government restarted construction and named the city “Taichung.”  

    Taichung is an essential economic and transport hub for the whole of Taiwan, linking together industry and agriculture in the cities and counties that make up Taiwan’s central region. Originally separate administrative regions, Taichung County was incorporated into Taichung City in 2010, making it the second-largest of Taiwan's five special municipalities with a population of around 2.8 million. Occupying a broad plain framed by high mountains to the east and the sea to the west, Taichung has developed as a critical hub for road, rail, sea and air transport connecting the region to all other parts of Taiwan.

    The Central Mountain Range effectively shields Taichung from Taiwan’s seasonal typhoons, leaving a city known for pleasant weather and a warm, energetic population. The city is made up of 29 administrative districts, each boasting uniquely distinctive cultural and natural landscapes, the legacy of centuries of diverse immigration and organic development, and giving the city a thriving cultural scene marked by a broad array of local and international events.

  • TAINAN

    Established in 1624 by the Dutch East Indian Company, Tainan is Taiwan’s oldest city, and is famous for its rich history, culture, architecture and heritage sites.

    Today, Tainan has 34 districts; they were formerly under Tainan City and Tainan County under Tainan Provincial Government but came under Tainan City’s jurisdiction when Tainan was made a special municipality in 2010. Today, Tainan covers nearly 260 square kilometers and is home to nearly 1.9 million people.

    A walk around Tainan is like stepping back in time, and emphasizes the importance of traditional religion in Taiwanese life. Tainan is a city of temples, including Taiwan’s oldest Confucius temple. Tainan developed around water transport, and today the city’s ancient canal is still the ideal place to get a sense of the pace of ancient city life. A stroll through the maze of nearby traditional neighborhoods brings intimate encounters with relics of the city’s past which continue to be vital parts of the community’s present.

    Tainan is also famous for its street food scene, and is one of the few instances of street snacks to earn a mention in the Michelin Green Guide. Dishes unique to or originating from Tainan include fresh and tasty beef soup, rice cakes with dried fish and braised pork on top or aromatic steamed rice cake. These delicacies are part of the foundation of Tainan’s gastronomic culture and bear the historical memories of four centuries.

  • KAOHSIUNG

    Before the 16th century, the area now occupied by Kaohsiung City was home to the Makato indigenous tribe who called it “Takau,” which translates to “bamboo forest”. Han Chinese immigrants who later settled in the area adopted the pronunciation “Takau”, but wrote it phonetically using the Chinese characters 打狗 (dagou), which means “beat the dog”. Later, the Japanese occupying forces changed the name of the city to 高雄 (kaohsiung) after an area in Ukyo-Ku, Kyoto.

    Today, Kaohsiung is a thriving metropolis spread over nearly 3000 square kilometers and with a population of nearly 2.8 million. From above, the city presents a rich and varied landscape, with lush mountains, lakes, and rivers flowing to the sea which provides a steady cooling breeze for this sun-soaked city. The Port of Kaohsiung is one of the world’s busiest container ports, with a constant stream of cargo ships forming a critical artery for Asia-Pacific trade and commerce. In addition to the beauty of its natural setting, the city’s long history as an international port has also helped Kaohsiung develop a unique and thriving culture. 

Climate

Taiwan has a long summer and a short, mild winter. The island, which is crossed by the Tropic of Cancer, boasts a variety of different climate zones. The northern and central regions are subtropical, the southern part is tropical, and its mountainous regions are temperate.Typically, the mean temperature of Taiwan ranges from around 18°C in winter to 29°C in summer. Low temperatures can drop below 10°C in winter, and high temperatures can surpass 35°C in summer.

The island’s average annual rainfall is approximately 2,600 millimeters. Northern Taiwan generally receives 60 percent of its total annual precipitation between May andSeptember. Southern Taiwan receives over 90 percent ofits precipitation over the same period, and its driest timestretches from November through February.The winter and summer East Asian monsoon systemsinfluence Taiwan’s seasons. The winter monsoon prevailsfrom October through March, with predominantly northeasterly winds (blowing toward the southwest) bringingmoderate and stable rainfall to the east and north of theisland.

The central and southern parts of western Taiwan, on the other hand, experience mostly sunny weather withlimited rainfall in autumn and winter.The onset of the East Asian summer monsoon is concurrent with Taiwan’s rainy season, popularly known as theplum rain 梅雨 season, in May and June. During this time,southwestern Taiwan is especially vulnerable to heavyrainfall, and afternoon thunderstorms and tropical disturbances are common.Typhoons are most frequent in July, August and September. Taiwan experiences three to four typhoons peryear on average. Some of them have caused severe damage; extreme cases of torrential and sustained rainfall may cause flooding, mudflows and landslides, and significant loss of life and property. Nevertheless, the precipitation that accompanies typhoons is vital to the island’s water resources.

 

Natural Environment

  • Geography

    Located off the southeast coast of the Asian Continent and the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and the Philippines, and in the center of the East-Asian island arc, Taiwan forms a vital line of communication in the Asia-Pacific region. It covers an area of approximately 36,000 square kilometers (14,400 square miles), and the North-South extent is more significant than the East-West measure. Two-thirds of the total area covered by forest mountains and the remaining area consists of hilly country, platforms and highlands, coastal plains and basins. The Central Mountain Range stretches along with the entire country from north to south, thus forming a natural line of demarcation for rivers on the eastern and western sides of the island. On the west side lies the Yushan (Yu Mountain) Range, with its main peak reaching 3,952 meters, the highest mountain peak in Northeast Asia.

     

  • The Mountains

    Taiwan has been abundantly endowed with mountains; over 200 of its peaks are more than 3,000 meters high, making Taiwan geographically unique. As mountains can be found anywhere, mountain climbing is a popular leisure activity in Taiwan. One can choose to hike on the outskirts of the city or accept the challenge of climbing one of the many high mountains, following the course of streams and valleys, tracing back to the source of rivers, or crossing entire mountains. In any case, lush scenery will unfold your eyes, and it will not take too long for you to be convinced of the beauty of Taiwan's mountains. In addition, there are nine national parks which offer a variety of distinct topographic landscapes. For example, the Taroko National Park focused on a narrow ravine created by a river which has cut through the mountains; Yushan National Park, containing the highest landmark of Taiwan and also the highest peak in Northeast Asia; Shei-pa National Park, featuring dangerously steep slopes; Yangmingshan National Park, with its volcanic craters and lakes; Kenting National Park, encompassing the only tropical area in Taiwan which breathes a genuinely Southeast Asian atmosphere; Kinmen National Park, which greets visitors with white coral and shell beaches and other geological wonders. Finally, both culture and natural attractions await your discovery at Taijiang National Park.

     

  • Sea World

    Taiwan has a vibrant marine ecology. You can see groups of bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and pantropical spotted dolphins jumping out of the Pacific Ocean along the east. Azure seas and magnificent coral reefs can be found in Kending (Kenting) at the southern tip of Taiwan, Green Island, and the Penghu Archipelago. These are places for you to discover and be amazed.

     

  • Eco-Landscape

    Taiwan has a warm and humid climate and a variety of terrain, including sandbars, plains, basins, hills, plateaus, and mountains. As a result, the country is home to abundant animal and plant life, including various endemic species, and can be regarded as one gigantic eco-park. Because of the formation of mudflats and mangroves along the coast, large numbers of migratory birds from around the world are attracted to Taiwan, where they use these coastal areas as a temporary shelter and rest area before they resume their journey. In spring and summertime, there are the birds that leave the tropics behind to spend this season in Taiwan, such as the eye-catching fairy pitta, known in Chinese as the eight-color bird. During the autumn time, birds from colder northern areas come to Taiwan to spend the winter, such as the black-faced spoonbill. The gray-faced buzzard will be right on time to participate in the Double Ten celebrations (Taiwan's national day) in October each year, and there are also countless other migratory birds that use Taiwan either as a stopover or as their final destination, one way or the other adding exuberant vitality to the island's wildlife.

     

Culture and Language

Taiwan is an important center in Sinosphere where Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, literature, architecture, arts and crafts, and traditional customs are well promoted and preserved. Also, Taiwan is also the origin of the expansion of Austronesian people, retaining the most diverse varieties of Austronesian languages and cultures. With a free and open society where different ethnic groups live in harmony, and with stable economic growth, Taiwan has developed a unique Taiwanese culture that incorporates various features and values of Chinese culture.

A critical example of how Chinese culture has been preserved in Taiwan is the continual use of Traditional Chinese characters, which have been used for over 2,400 years since the Qin Dynasty. Taiwan plays a significant role in preserving and promoting the use of Traditional Chinese characters. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 subgroups of Austronesian languages can only be found in Taiwanese indigenous people nowadays, which substantially enriches the diversity of Taiwanese culture.

 

Economic Strength

Taiwan plays an influential role in the global economy. According to the World Trade Organization’s statistics, it was the world’s 18th-largest exporter and 17th-largest importer of merchandise in 2018, while ranking 27th in the export and import of commercial services, respectively. As one of the most powerful players in the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry, Taiwan is also a major supplier of other goods across the industrial spectrum. A key factor underpinning this performance is the government’s promotion of policies designed to foster development and to sustain national economic competitiveness through continuous investment in human resources, research, development, and industrial upgrading. These policies, combined with Taiwan’s strong entrepreneurial spirit have created a business and investment environment that has consistently been ranked among the world’s most competitive. For example, in 2019, US-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI) ranked Taiwan 4th in the world and 2nd in Asia in terms of investment safety.

 

Science and Technology

Taiwan launched its first comprehensive set of science and technology (S&T) policies in 1959, and these policies have culminated in turning this small island of 23 million into one of the world’s leading technology powerhouses.The 1990s saw the launch of a series of national science and technology programs to address needs ranging from telecommunications to disaster prevention. Meanwhile, the Basic Science and Technology Act of 1999 provided a sound legal framework for government promotion of S&T development.

The private sector has also played a significant role in fostering Taiwan’s S&T development. Firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd., (TSMC) and the Foxconn Technology Group dominate the global market for custom-designed integrated circuit (IC) chips and a vast variety of other high-tech products. Taiwan is a major supplier of high-end components used in the manufacture of products from global tech leaders including Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Sony.

Taiwan is also home to world-renowned electronics brands of its own such as Acer, ASUS and HTC.The public and private sectors continue to promote S&T advancement today. In 2018, Taiwan’s research and development (R&D) expenditures exceeded US$20 billion, of which 77% came from private investment. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018, out of 140 economies surveyed, Taiwan ranked 5th in R&D expenditures, 2nd for patent applications, and 4th in terms of innovation capability.

 

Cuisine

In Taiwan, people love to eat! There are vendors, snack shops and restaurants are everywhere in every town and city. Foods and dishes from around the world are available in Taiwan, but Taiwan’s native cuisine is unforgettable and has now gained worldwide attention – try it just once, and you’ll remember it forever. Great dishes such as pearl milk tea, Danzai noodles, shrimp pork soup, coffin sandwiches, veggie and meat wraps, oyster vermicelli, steamed sandwiches, and crushed ice dessert.

 

Transportation

Taiwan has a convenient and safe transport network. No matter what kind of transport you plan to use in Taiwan, it is always seamlessly connected, making your visit smoother and easier.Taipei and Kaohsiung feature modern, comprehensive metro systems which integrate seamlessly into the city bus system to provide easy access to any place in either city. Taiwan’s high-speed rail system provides 300-kph intercity rail service along Taiwan’s western corridor, with express service between Taipei and Kaohsiung taking only 105 minutes.

A new light-rail line connects Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station, in a comfortable and convenient 35-minute ride.Taiwan’s uBike bicycle rental service provides inexpensive and convenient access to tens of thousands of high-quality, comfortable bicycles in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, and Changhua. Find the closest station on your mobile app, unlock the bike with a convenient stored-value card, and leave the bike at a station near your destination. Taiwan’s integrated public transport not only provides value, comfort and convenience, but is also a key component of green living.