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Taiwan

Taiwan has been recognized worldwide for its advanced ICT-industry, and as an important hub of international trade. Also known under the older name Formosa, the island has always been associated with exceptional natural beauty. The lively, warm-hearted hospitality of its people is another remarkable feature of this culturally rich and diverse place. Geographically, Taiwan is situated in East Asia, in the Western Pacific Ocean, and located off the southeastern coast of Mainland China. Separated from the Asian continent by the 120 kilometers (75 mi) wide Taiwan Strait, the main island of the group is 394 kilometers (245 mi) long and 144 kilometers (89 mi) wide. The capital is Taipei. Taiwan has a population of about 23 Mio.

Climate conditions

Taiwan's climate is marine tropical. The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March during the northeast monsoon, and experiences a rainy period (Mei-yu) in May. The entire island experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. The middle and southern parts of the island do not have an extended monsoon season during the winter months. Natural hazards such as typhoons and earthquakes are common in the region. Taiwan is characterized by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds, consisting mostly of rugged mountains, and the flat to gently rolling plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population.

Natural environment

Taiwan's highest point is Yu Shan at 3,952 meters, and there are five other peaks over 3,500 meters. This makes it the world's 4th-highest island. The island lies in a complex tectonic area between the Yangtze Plate to the west and north, the Okinawa Plate on the north-east, and the Philippine Mobile Belt on the east and south. Earthquakes are common. Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, with an area of eight square km and a depth of 30 meters, is the island’s largest and deepest lake. Yangmingshan National Park, north of Taipei, is noted for its hot springs, which are heated by long-dormant volcanoes. The park boasts lush, grassy meadows and mountain peaks as well as waterfalls.

Cultural highlights

One of Taiwan's greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting and porcelain. Its collection is considered one of the greatest of Chinese art and objects in the world. It is so extensive that items in the permanent exhibition rotate quarterly over a 12-year period. People more interested in contemporary art can check out the Ju-Ming Museum in Taipei County. The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Taichung houses an impressive collection of works by artists of the Ming and Ching dynasties as well as of modern times.

The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of various sources, incorporating elements of traditional Chinese culture, attributable to the historical and ancestry origin of the majority of its current residents, Japanese culture, traditional Confucian beliefs, and increasingly Western values. Popular folk crafts include paper cutting, knotting, dough sculpture, woodcarving, woodblock printing, paper umbrella and lantern making, embroidery and jade sculpture. Major traditional performing arts include folk opera, music and dance, acrobatics, puppetry, dragon and lion dancing.

Trade and industry

Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II has transformed the island’s industries into an advanced economy, as it is categorized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Taiwan’s high-tech industries play a key role in the global economy: Taiwanese companies manufacture a large portion of the world's consumer electronics, although most of them are now made in their factories in mainland China. Few natural resources of significant economic value are retained in Taiwan, which are essentially agriculture-associated: Domestic agriculture (rice being the dominant kind of crop) and fisheries retain important, but have been challenged by foreign imports since Taiwan's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Taiwan's agriculture now relies mostly on the marketing and exportation of certain fruit, such as banana, guava, lychee, wax apple, and high-mountain tea.

Taiwan cuisine

Taiwan is a cultural melting pot, and visitors are sure to find something to their fancy among the seemingly endless array of culinary delights. Moreover, food is fresh as the nation’s year-long growing season and varied climatic zones mean that a wide variety of fresh ingredients are available locally. For a change of pace from restaurant dining, sampling the myriad delicious snacks at stalls and small specialty eateries in Taiwan’s many fancy night markets and elsewhere is highly recommended.

Last, not least…

Taiwan has a dense network of 24-hours convenience stores, which in addition to the usual services, provide services on behalf of financial institutions, or government agencies:, i. e.: collection of parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments. They even provide post mailing services.