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Taiwan

Taiwan

General Information

TAIWAN

The Republic of China (Taiwan) was founded in 1912, making it the first democratic republic in Asia. In 1949, the government moved to Taiwan and maintained jurisdiction over an area encompassing the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, Dongsha, Zhongsha, and Nansha.
Area : 36,000 square kilometers
Population : 23 million
Language : Mandarin / Taiwanese / Hakka / Indigenous Languages
Religion : Buddhism / Taoism / Christianity / Islam
President : Mr. Ma Ying-jeou

Location

Taiwan's total land area is about 36,000 square kilometers (14,400 square miles). It is shaped like a leaf that is narrow at both ends. It lies off the southeastern coast of mainland Asia, across the Taiwan Strait from China - an island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. To the north is Japan; to the south is the Philippines. Many airlines fly to Taiwan, making it the perfect travel destination.

Taiwan lies on the western edge of the Pacific "rim of fire," and continuous tectonic movements have created majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, basins, coastlines, and other natural landscapes. Taiwan's tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate climates provide clear differentiation between the different seasons. There are rare or endangered species of wildlife on the island. Among these are the land-locked salmon, Taiwan serow, Formosan rock monkey, Formosan black bear, blue magpie, Mikado pheasant, and Hsuehshan grass lizard.

The Taiwan government has established 9 national parks and 13 national scenic areas to preserve Taiwan's best natural ecological environment and cultural sites. There are various ways to discover the beauty of Taiwan. For example, trekking in the magnificence of the cliffs at Taroko Gorge; taking a ride on the Alishan Forest Railway and experiencing the breathtaking sunrise and sea of clouds; hiking up to the summit of Northeast Asia's highest peak, Yu Mountain (Yushan). You can also soak up the sun in Kending (Kenting), Asia's version of Hawaii; stand at the edge of Sun Moon Lake; wander through the East Rift Valley; or visit the offshore islands of Kinmen and Penghu. It's fun in capital letters as well as an awesome journey of natural discovery! 

Climate

If you are from a high-latitude country, you can leave your winter coat behind when coming to Taiwan and enjoy the pleasant warmth of the sun. If you'd rather experience the carefree sensation of healthy beads of sweat running down your forehead, then you should visit the beach at Kending (Kenting) in southern Taiwan, where it is summer all year round. Don't worry too much about getting burned by the dazzling sun, so long as you take prudent precautions; the sun may not be as stinging hot as it seems. Furthermore, the country is surrounded by the ocean; and the ocean breezes, which are the reasons for Taiwan's humid weather, will surely make you completely forget the dry cold back home.

Natural Environment

Formosa ("Beautiful Island")

Formosa is what the Portuguese called Taiwan when they came here in the 16th century and saw the verdant beauty of the island.
Located off the southeast coast of the Asian Continent at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and the Philippines and right 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 is longer than it is wide. Two-thirds of the total area is covered by forested mountains and the remaining area consists of hilly country, platforms and highlands, coastal plains and basins. The Central Mountain Range stretches along 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; 258 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 the mountains on the outskirts of the city or accept the challenge of climbing one of the numerous 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: 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 truly Southeast Asian atmosphere; Kinmen National Park, which greets visitors with white coral and shell beaches and other geological wonders. Finally, both culture and natural attrations await your discovery at Taijiang National Park. 

Sea World

Taiwan has a very rich marine ecology. You can see a groups of bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and pan tropical 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, and on Green Island and the Penghu Archipelago. This is a place for you to discover and be amazed.

Eco-park 

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 therefore be regarded as one gigantic eco-park. Because of the formation of mud flats 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 summer time, 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 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. 

History

The history of Taiwan can be traced back to at least 7000 years ago. Between 7000 and 400 years ago, Austronesians, the ancestor of the island's indigenous peoples, arrived in small groups and became the earliest known inhabitants of Taiwan.
During the age of discovery in the 16th century, Western sailors arrived in the Far East to set up colonies and conduct trade.

As Taiwan was located at the conjunction of the East Asia and the ocean, as well as being where the Northeast Asian waters meet the Southeast waters, it became the focus of the Western powers that were operating in East Asian waters at the time.

In the first half of the 17th Century, the Dutch established a presence at Anping (in modern-day Tainan city). They conducted missionary activities, trade and the production of various goods. They also recruited many Han Chinese immigrants from the China coast, leading to a multicultural history of Taiwan. The number of Han Chinese immigrants in Taiwan steadily increased during the short-lived Cheng (Koxinga) regime and Qing period over the next 200 years, creating a primarily Han society in Taiwan.

In the late 19th century, the wave of imperialism touched the shores of Taiwan. The island became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese rule for 50 years, during which time it evolved from a traditional society into a modern society. At the end of World War II in 1945, Taiwan was liberated from colonial rule. Since then, the island has experienced an economic miracle and introduced political democracy achievements that have attracted the world's attention.

Today, Taiwan boasts an excellent infrastructure, convenient transportation system, and high-quality communication services. It also has accomplished, in the face of several international energy crises and economic downturns, a remarkable record of economic development and political democracy by virtue of the perseverance and unremitting efforts of its people.

Religion

Taiwan is highly diversified in terms of religious belief, with the practices of Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Mormonism, the Unification Church, Islam, and Hinduism, as well as native sects such as Yiguandao and others. The country not only respects traditional faiths but also opens its arms to other types of religious thought from the outside.

For the most part, the traditional religions practiced in Taiwan are Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religions; except for a small number of purely Buddhist temples, however, most of the island's traditional places of worship combine all three traditions.

Taoism is China's native religion, and many of its gods are deified persons who actually lived in the past and made important contributions to society. Guan Gong, the God of War, is a classic example of this; in history he was Guan Yu, a famous general of the Three Kingdoms period. Taoism came to Taiwan in the 17th century, but it was suppressed during the period of Japanese occupation (1895-1945) because of its embodiment of the spirit of Chinese culture. During those years the adherents of Taoism had to worship their gods surreptitiously in Buddhist temples, and after the country was returned to Chinese rule, the convergence of these two religions continued. Today all sorts of deities are worshipped in the same temple, forming one of the unique features of religion in Taiwan.

Confucius is another important part of religious thinking in Taiwan. Confucius was China's most famous and beloved teacher, advocating the practice of rituals and the worship of ancestors. Emperor Yuan of the Western Han Dynasty (207 B.C. - A.D. 24) built the first shrine dedicated to Confucius, and after that many more temples were constructed as a mark of respect to the sage. External religions first arrived on Taiwan in the early part of the 17th century when Catholicism and Protestantism were introduced by Spanish and Dutch missionaries. Presbyterianism is perhaps the Protestant branch of Christianity that has played the most prominent role in Taiwan's history.

People

The friendly people of Taiwan

Taiwan has a population of 23 million. The larger part of the country's inhabitants are the descendants of immigrants from the various provinces of mainland China, but in particular from the southeastern coastal provinces: Fujian and Guangdong. Because the different ethnic groups have fairly well integrated, differences that originally existed between people from different provinces have gradually disappeared.
Nearly 500,000 indigenous people, the original inhabitants of Taiwan, still live here; they are into 14 different tribes, namely Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, Sakizaya, and Sediq.

Language  

The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese; but because many Taiwanese are of southern Fujianese descent, Minnan (the Southern Min dialect or Heluo) is also widely spoken. The smaller groups of Hakka people and indigenous tribes have also preserved their own languages. Many elderly people can also speak some Japanese, as they were subjected to Japanese education before Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule in 1945 after the Japanese occupation, which lasted for half a century.

The most popular foreign language in Taiwan is English, which is part of the regular school curriculum. However, for your own convenience, when taking a taxi in Taiwan, it is advisable to prepare a note with your destination written in Chinese to show the taxi driver.

Taiwan is also the ideal place to learn Chinese. There are numerous language schools that offer Chinese classes, ranging from hourly-based classes to recognized university programs. Many foreigners from Europe and the United States, as well as other areas, come to Taiwan to spend their holidays, or one or two years, studying Chinese.

 

Information Courtesy Of Tourism in Taiwan 

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