Area : 36,000 square kilometers
Population: 23 million
Capital : Taipei City
People : Chinese
Language : Mandarin/Taiwanese/Hakka
Religion : Buddhism/Taoism/Christian/Islam/Catholicism
between 2145' - 2556' north latitude and 12434' - 11918'
east longitude; situated on the sea and southeast edge
of the China's continental shelf, more than 100 kilometers
away from the northeast China; bordering the Pacific Ocean
to the east, oppositing the Philippines Islands across
the Bashi Strait to the south.
Taiwan's total land area is only about 3,6000 square kilometers; it is shaped like a tobacco leaf that is narrow at both ends. It lies off the southeastern coast of mainland Asia, across the Taiwan Straits from Mainland China-- a solitary island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. To the north lies Japan and Okinawa, to the south is the Philippines. Many airlines fly to Taiwan, helping make it the perfect travel destination.
Mt.Yushan (Jade Mountain)
Sun and Moon Lake
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 wonders. Taiwan sees climates of many types: tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate, providing clear differentiation between the different seasons. There are about 18,400 species of wildlife on the island, with more than 20% belonging to rare or endangered species; among these are the land-locked salmon, Taiwan mountain goat, Formosan rock monkey, Formosan black bear, blue magpie, Mikado pheasant, Hsuehshan grass lizard, and many more.
The government has established 6 national parks and 12 national scenic areas to preserve Taiwan's best natural ecological environment and cultural sites. Take in the splendor and sheer heights of the cliffs at Taroko Gorge; take a ride on the Alishan train--one of only three mountain railways in the world--and experience the breathtaking sunset and sea of clouds; hike up to the summit of Northeast Asia's highest peak, Jade Mountain. You can also soak up the sun in Kending, Asia's version of Hawaii; stand at the edge of Sun Moon Lake; traipse 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!
The cultural aspects also not to be missed. The blending of Hakka, Taiwanese, and mainland Chinese cultures has produced a rich plethora of cultural and social color. Whether it is religion, architecture, language, living habits, or food, it's just one big exciting melting pot! Food is the best representative of this cultural mixing and matching. Aside from cuisines from different parts of the mainland such as Zhejiang, Hunan, Guangdong, Yunnan, Shanghai, Beijing, Sichuan, and others, there is also the local Taiwanese cuisine as well as the local delicacies of each area.
The volatile climate of Taiwan
If you are from a high-latitude country, you can leave your winter coat behind when coming to Taiwan and indulge in 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 Kenting in southern Taiwan where it is summer all year round.
Don't worry too much about getting burnt by the dazzling sun; the island of Taiwan is located in the subtropical climate zone, and the sun is not as stinging hot as it seems bright.
Furthermore, the island is surrounded by oceans; and the ocean breezes, which are the reason for Taiwan's humid weather, will surely make you completely forget the dry cold back home. If you are from a low-latitude country, you will certainly revel in the nice warmth of Taiwan's sun.
Because of the coolness that hangs in the air, it is a welcoming change from the simmering heat of your native country. You can do some hiking in the mountains, surrounding yourself with the beautiful trees of the forest while inhaling some of that pure and fresh air that blows on the island of Taiwan.
Taiwan enjoys warm weather all year round. The strongest fluctuations in weather conditions are during spring and winter, while during summer and autumn the weather is relatively stable. Taiwan is extremely suitable for traveling, as the annual average temperature is a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius with lowest temperatures ranging from 12 to 17 degrees Celsius (54-63 Fahrenheit). Therefore, with the exception of a few mountain areas where some traces of snow can be found during winter, no snow can be seen throughout Taiwan. When summer is about to dismiss spring (March to May), continuously drizzling rain will sometimes fall on Taiwan. When visiting Taiwan during this period, remember to carry an umbrella at all times; because although it might seem romantic to have a stroll in the rain, it is no fun to travel when you're soaking wet. During the summer (June to August) typhoons sometimes reach the island.
During this period we suggest you keep an eye on weather reports, because during typhoon weather the roaring waves at the coast are not to be regarded as one of Taiwan's tourist scenes. During autumn (September to October) you can wholeheartedly enjoy the cool and soothing weather, while Taiwan's relatively warm and short winter (November to February) is the time for you to admire the beautifully colored maple trees. The cold fronts that reach Taiwan sporadically are greatly favored by the island's hot spring lovers.
In short, Taiwan, where it always seems to be spring, is your perfect travel destination!
Nature of Taiwan
Formosa (beautiful island) is what the Portuguese called Taiwan when they came here in the 16th century and saw the island's verdant beauty.
Located along 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 island 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 Mountain Range with its main peak reaching 3,952 meters, the highest mountain peak in Northeast Asia.
Taiwan has been generously equipped with forests. Some 293 mountain peaks are more than 3,000 meters high, geographically making Taiwan incomparable to any other country in the world. As mountains can be found anywhere, mountain climbing is a popular leisure activity in Taiwan. One can choose to walk the mountains on the outskirts of the city or accept the challenge of climbing one of the numerous high mountains, follow the course of streams and valleys, trace back the source of rivers, or cross entire mountains. In any case, lush scenery will unfold before your eyes and it will not take too long before you'll be convinced of the beauty of Taiwan's mountains. In addition to this, six national parks offer a variety of distinct topographic landscapes: the Taroko National Park, a narrow ravine created by a river which has cut through the mountains, Yushan (Jade Mountain) National Parkhighest containing the highest landmark of Taiwan and also the highest peak in Northeast Asia, Shei-Pa National Park, featuring with its dangerously steep slopes; Yangmingshan National Park, offering volcanic craters and lakes; Kenting National Park, encompassing Taiwan's only tropical area which breathes a truly Southeast Asian atmosphere; and Kinmen National Park, with its storied granite hills.
The World Of Sea
Taiwan has a very rich marine ecology. In the Pacific Ocean on Taiwan's east, groups of bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso's dolphins, and pantropical spotted dolphins can be seen jumping out of the water. Azure seas and magnificent coral reefs can be found in Kenting on the south end of Taiwan, and on Green Island and the islands of the Penghu Archipelago. It is there for you to discover and marvel at.
Taiwan has a warm and humid climate and a variety of terrain, including sandbars, plains, basins, hills, plateaus, and mountains. As a result, the island 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 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, while during autumn birds from colder northern areas come to Taiwan to spend the winter, such as the black-faced spoonbill of which only 530 are left worldwide. Each year the gray-faced buzzard will be right on time to participate in the Double Tenth celebrations (Taiwan's national day), 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 Taiwan's wildlife.
One surprise after the other will come to you when traveling in Taiwan.
Culture of Taiwan
If this is your first visit to Taiwan, you will most certainly be amazed at the diversity of things this beautiful island has to offer, as a rich historical background has provided Taiwan with a multifaceted culture. People from many different places and backgrounds, such as Taiwan's indigenous people, the southern Fujianese from early China, Hakka immigrants, the Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese, and the recent immigrants from mainland China. have all played a role in Taiwan's development. While gradually developing a new culture indigenous to Taiwan, they also held on to their respective customs and traditions; as a result, you will be able to sample indigenous, Taiwanese, and Chinese cultures and even find traces left by the Dutch and the Japanese when traveling in Taiwan.
Taiwan forms the center of Chinese art and culture, which is not only obvious from the exhaustive collection of cultural relics from past dynasties exhibited in the famous National Palace Museum, but can also be perfectly illustrated by the traditional architecture and folk art found in Taiwan.
Temples and Architecture
Taiwan's traditional architecture is an aggregation of folk art. Decorations are refined and while they form an important part of the architecture, ranging from colored paintings to calligraphic illustrations, wooden and stone carvings, clay sculptures and ceramics, they
tell the story of Taiwan's rich culture. Next to traditional Chinese architecture brought to Taiwan by the southern Fujianese from early China and the Hakka immigrants (such as can be seen in Bangiao at the Lin Family Garden), architectural features used in Chinese temples can also be found across Taiwan. Some of the most famous temples in Taiwan that are not only of historical but also of artistic value. are the Longshan (Dragon Mountain) Temple and the Mazu Temple (Queen of Heaven Temple) in Lugang, and the Chaotian Temple in Beigang.
Folk Art and Culture
Some of Taiwan's most important annual holidays and festivals include the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, Lovers' Day, and the Hungry Ghosts Festival. But local Taiwanese folk events, such as the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage, the Goddess Mazu Making Rounds of Inspection in Beigang, the City God Welcoming in Taipei, the Burning of the Plague God Boat in Donggang, and aboriginal rituals, are also regarded as important celebrations. Next to keeping traditional Chinese opera alive, Taiwan has also developed its own Taiwanese opera and the famous glove puppet theater. Taiwanese opera combines local opera and music into one performing art, while the puppet theater has undergone great modernization in recent years and many special effects are added to performances today, making it extremely popular among Taiwan's younger generation. Taiwan's movies and performing groups are also gradually gaining ground on the international stage, once again demonstrating the traditional and creative value of Chinese and Taiwanese culture.
The mysterious customs and traditions of the aborigines, Taiwan's indigenous people, such as the Harvest Festival (Smatto), the Worship of Hunting (Mabuasu), spiritual rituals, totemism, and snake worship, give an extra dimension to Taiwan's culture. The aboriginal tribes of Taiwan form the most northern branch of the Austronesian language group, and ethnically belong to the Malay race. Most aborigines have retreated into the mountains; but although many are faced with assimilation, still some 10 different tribes that have their own languages, traditions, and tribal structure can be distinguished: the Saisiyat, the Atayal, the Amis, the Bunun, the Puyuma, the Rukai, the Paiwan, the Tao, the Sao and the Zou. Orchid Island's Yami(Tao) tribe has been relatively isolated due to the island's geographical location, and was the last to come in contact with the Han Chinese; this tribe, therefore, has been able to preserve its aboriginal culture the best.
Remnants of colonial periods can still be found in many parts of Taiwan. Fort San Domingo in Danshui, for example, used to be home to the Portuguese and the Dutch successively, while bustling places such as Taipei's Dihua Street, Taoyuan's Daxi area, and Tainan's Xinhua area have still been able to preserve the outstanding baroque architecture left by the Japanese. Some historically significant structures built during the Japanese occupation include the Presidential Office Building, the Executive Yuan, and the old National Taiwan University Hospital Building in Taipei. Recently, decorative night lighting has been installed to display the graceful features of these old structures while at the same time illuminating the night skies of Taipei and creating an artistic and romantic atmosphere.
Taiwan incorporates all this, a true cultural banquet: whether you are looking for something romantic, legendary, stately, or interesting, it's all here for you to discover.
Taiwan is highly diversified in terms of religious faith, with the practice of Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, Mormonism, the Unification Church, Islam, and Hinduism, as well as native sects such as Yiguandao and others. The island 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, Daoism, 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. Daoism 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. Daoism 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 Daoism had to worship their gods surreptitiously in Buddhist temples, and after the island was restored to Chinese rule the convergence of these two religions continued. Today all sorts of different kinds 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. The 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 the island 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.
A Paradise for Gourmands
The culinary culture of the Chinese people goes back a very long time; and while Chinese food can be enjoyed in every large city in the world today, true gourmets know that only in Taiwan is it possible to enjoy fine authentic cuisine from all the different regions of China. In Taiwan, where it seems the people live to eat, it is said that there is a snack shop every three steps and a restaurant every five. These establishments serve all kinds of Chinese food, from the roast duck, smoked chicken, lamb hotpot, fish in wine sauce, beef with green peppers, and scallop and turnip balls of the north to the camphor-tea duck, salty fried chicken with spices, honey ham, stir-fried shrimp, dry-fried eggplant, and spicy bean curd of the south. As the island's economy has developed rapidly in recent years, its culinary culture has expanded beyond the traditional Chinese foods to Chinese-style fast-food chains, thus bringing greater complexity than ever before to the art of Chinese dining. Foreign foods from all over the world have also made their appearance in Taiwan, and the island is now filled with eateries serving American hamburgers, Italian pizza, Japanese sashimi, German pig's knuckles, Swiss fondue, and just about everything else. All of this makes Taiwan a veritable paradise for gourmands. Taiwan's own native cuisine has also become known around the world, and if you try it just once you will remember it forever.
The emphasis in Taiwanese cooking is on light, natural flavors and freshness, and there is no pursuit of complex flavors. Another feature of Taiwanese cuisine is that tonic foods are prepared by using different types of medicinal ingredients for the various seasons of the year.