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Taiwan

Welcome to Taiwan

Explore Our Best Destinations Taiwan

With legacies as varied as its adventure landscape and spirited traditions thriving alongside the cream of Asian sophistication, Taiwan is a continent on one green island. Famed for centuries as Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Isle; 美麗島; Měilìdǎo), this is a land with more sides than the 11-headed Guanyin.

Towering sea cliffs, marble-walled gorges and tropical forests are just the start of your journey, which could take you as far as Yushan, Taiwan’s 3952m alpine roof.In Taiwan you can criss-cross mountains on colonial-era hiking trails or cycle a lone highway with the blue Pacific on one side and green volcanic arcs on the other. ‘Have you eaten?’ The words are used as a greeting here, and the answer is always ‘yes’, as there’s just too much nibbling to do.

Taiwan offers the gamut of Chinese cuisines, some of the best Japanese outside Japan, and a full house of local specialties from Tainan milk fish and Taipei beef noodles to indigenous barbecued wild boar. Defying those who said it wasn’t in their DNA, the Taiwanese have created Asia’s most vibrant democracy and liberal society, with a raucous free press, gender equality, and respect for human rights and, increasingly, animal rights as well. The ancestors are still worshiped, and mum and dad still get their dues, but woe betide the politician who thinks it’s the people who must pander, and not him – or her. Taiwan is heir to the entire Chinese tradition of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and that amorphous collection of deities and demons worshiped as folk faith. Over the centuries the people have blended their way into a unique and tolerant religious culture that’s often as ritual heavy as Catholicism and as wild as Santeria.

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Taipei(Discover more Taipei)

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Kaohsiung(Discover more Kaohsiung)

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Tainan(Discover more Tainan)

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Hsinchu(Discover more Hsinchu)

Capital of Taiwan: Taipei

Official language: Mandarin Chinese

The currency: New Taiwan dollar

Climate: In the island of Taiwan, formerly Formosa, the climate is tropical, with hot and rainy summers, and mild winters. The period May-September is very rainy throughout the country, due to the summer monsoon, while in the other seasons, rainfall depends on latitude and slope exposure. However, winter is the least rainy season everywhere.

In winter, the temperature is pleasant in the south, where highs are about 23 °C (73 °F) in January, and the sun often shines, while in the north (see Taipei) the climate is cooler and cloudier, with an average maximum temperature about 18 °C (64 °F). Due to both maritime influence and low latitude, night-time temperatures are rarely cold and never drop below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). However, sometimes in the north there can be very cool days, with highs about 10/12 °C (50/54 °F).

Population: 23.55 million (2017)

Prime Minister: Tsai Ing-wen

Calling code: The international calling code is +886

The climate in Taiwan

In the island of Taiwan, formerly Formosa, the climate is tropical, with hot and rainy summers, and mild winters. The period May-September is very rainy throughout the country, due to the summer monsoon, while in the other seasons, rainfall depends on latitude and slope exposure. However, winter is the least rainy season everywhere.

In winter, the temperature is pleasant in the south, where highs are about 23 °C (73 °F) in January, and the sun often shines, while in the north (see Taipei) the climate is cooler and cloudier, with an average maximum temperature about 18 °C (64 °F). Due to both maritime influence and low latitude, night-time temperatures are rarely cold and never drop below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). However, sometimes in the north there can be very cool days, with highs about 10/12 °C (50/54 °F).

In spring, in April and early May, early thunderstorms begin to occur in the afternoon, starting from the north and the interior. The monsoon arrives in the island around May 10 – May 20, coming from the south. It brings heavy rains throughout the island, but especially along the southwest coast, from Tainan to Hengchun, as well as in the highlands of the interior.

Summer is hot, humid and rainy, with more frequent rains (unlike in winter) along the southern coast. Temperatures are uniform from north to south: in July and August, the daily average in the plains hovers around 29/30 °C (84/86 °F). The north-west coast, from Taichung to Taoyuan, experiences a relative decrease in rainfall in July. The amount of sunshine in summer is acceptable, because the tropical rains are usually intense but short-lived, however, in this season there’s a sticky and unpleasant heat.

During summer, the island is often affected by typhoons, tropical cyclones able to bring strong winds and torrential rains; they typically cause heavier damage along the east coast. The period in which they are most frequent is from August to early October.

After the monsoon, in autumn, from October to December, the rains decrease and the muggy heat is replaced by a more pleasant weather. The only area which remains fairly rainy is the east coast, where more than 100 millimetres (4 inches) of rain per month fall still in autumn (see Hualien).

The capital Taipei is located in the northern part of the island, which is the rainiest along with the north-east, and in winter is the coolest. The average temperature goes from 16 °C (61 °F) in January, to 30 °C (86 °F) in July. In summer, the “urban heat island effect”, generated in the big city, makes the heat even more unpleasant, but fortunately the buildings are equipped with air-conditioning.

Land

Taiwan, roughly oval in shape, is approximate in area to the Netherlands or to the U.S. states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut combined. It is part of a string of islands off the coast of East and Southeast Asia extending from Japan south through the Philippines to Indonesia. Taiwan is bounded to the north and northeast by the East China Sea, with the Ryukyu Islands (the southernmost part of Japan) to the northeast. To the east is found the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean and to the south is the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines. To the west is the Taiwan (Formosa) Strait, which separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland.

Languages

Each aboriginal group speaks a distinct language that generally is unintelligible to other groups. The aboriginal people had no written language until they made contact with the Dutch in the 17th century. The Hakka have their own language, which has affinities with both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. The Fukien Taiwanese speak Minnan, a form of Southern Min (often called Taiwanese on Taiwan), which comes from southern Fukien province. The mainlanders speak Mandarin Chinese, the official language of China. Many mainlanders may also speak a dialect of the province from which they originally came, although that practice has diminished considerably among the younger generations born on Taiwan. Most aboriginal people speak Mandarin; many speak Taiwanese, and a diminishing number know Japanese. Hoklos also speak Mandarin; older ones speak Japanese. Most Hakka speak Taiwanese and Mandarin, and some speak Japanese.

After World War II the mainland Chinese-run government made Mandarin the official language and it was used in the schools and in government. With democratization, other languages or dialects became more popular. The Fukien Taiwanese have consistently promoted their language, with some suggesting getting rid of Mandarin-since it is the language of the former minority ruling class. Yet Mandarin has the largest number of speakers of any language in the world, and Taiwan increasingly depends on trade and commercial ties with China. Hence the idea of replacing Mandarin with Taiwanese has not gotten too far, and Taiwan seems likely to remain multilingual.

Religions

The aboriginal peoples practice animism, nature worship, and other indigenous religious rites. The Chinese brought Buddhism, Daoism (Taoism), and Confucianism to Taiwan the Dutch introduced Protestant Christianity and the Spanish Roman Catholicism the Japanese brought Shinto. In 1949 many religious groups and religious leaders -especially Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist-fled to Taiwan from China.

The principal religions of Taiwan according to the number of adherents are: Buddhism, Daoism (Taoism), Christianity, and Yiguan Dao (I-Kuan Tao; “Way of Unity”). Buddhists and Daoists are by far the largest groups. Many of Taiwan’s residents are Confucians, though Confucianism is not strictly a religion but rather an ethical system that applies especially to politics and a philosophical system that is particularly Chinese. Religious affiliation is not exclusivist in Taiwan, and many people adhere to more than one faith.

Population

The population of Taiwan in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 22,731,000, which placed it at number 48 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 9% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 19% of the population under 15 years of age. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.4%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 23,625,000. The population density was 628 per sq km (1,627 per sq mi), one of the highest in the world. Approximately 90% of the inhabitants live west of the Central Range.

The UN estimated that 78% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of %. The capital city, T’aipei, had a population of approximately 2,700,000 in that year. Other large cities (with their estimated populations) include Kaohsiung (1,600,000), T’aichung (1,114,080), T’ainan (755,800), and Panch’iao (589,700).

Economy

Throughout its history Taiwan has experienced periods of economic boom and bust. Several centuries ago the island was a major trading centre in East Asia, and it prospered. Taiwan grew economically under Dutch rule in the mid-1600s and in the late 1800s under Chinese rule. It did well economically as a colony of Japan from 1895 to 1945 but experienced decline in the years immediately after World War II.

Early on, Taiwan adopted a policy of import substitution, imposing high tariffs to protect its budding industries. However, it soon abandoned that strategy in favor of strongly promoting exports-to the degree that it soon was trading more than Japan and had become a model for development that refuted the dependency theory model that had been applied to developing countries in other parts of the world (e.g., Latin America). Of note in Taiwan were the creation of export-processing zones, in which foreign companies were allowed to establish factories that were given significant tax breaks and other advantages but that also trained local labor and generated spin-off enterprises that were also part of the “Taiwan model.” Other components of that model included low taxes, a good infrastructure, a stable society, and a good educational system.

Tourism Travel and Recreation

T’aipei is the chief tourist attraction, with such popular sites as the seat of government in Presidential Square, Lungshan Temple, and the nearby National Palace Museum and famous Yangmingshan National Park. Attractions outside the capital include the Shihmen Dam recreation area, Lake Tzuhu, and the mausoleum of Chiang Kai-shek. The many temples and Dutch relics of T’ainan, Taiwan’s oldest city, and Sun Moon Lake near T’aichung also attract numerous visitors. The national sports are baseball, football (soccer), and basketball.

In 2003, tourist arrivals totaled 2,248,117, of whom 60% were from East Asia and the Pacific. Tourism receipts totaled us$3.5 billion. Hotel construction has boomed as a result of government investment. That year hotel rooms numbered 21,896 with an occupancy rate of 56%. All visitors need a valid passport and visa.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated that the daily expense for a stay in T’aipei was us $298.