Taiwan is an island nation off the coast of mainland China, and is officially known as the Republic of China. Taiwan is made up of the islands of Taiwan (formerly Formosa), Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and various others. The capital of Taiwan is Taipei.

Geography

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 Mainland China - an island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. In between of Japan and the Philippines.

Two-thirds of the Island is covered by mountains. The Central Mountain Range stretches along the entire island from north to south, forming a natural line of demarcation for rivers on the eastern and western sides of the island. The highest mountain is Yushan (Yu Mountain) Range with its main peak reaching 3,952 meters.

Taiwan has nine national parks in total: the Taroko National Park has a marvelous valley scene; Yushan National Park is famous by the highest peak of Northeast Asia; Shei-pa National Park, featuring fabulous mountainous scenery; Yangmingshan National Park, with its volcanic craters, lakes and hot springs; Kenting National Park, encompassing the only tropical area in Taiwan which breathes a truly exotic atmosphere; Kinmen National Park greets visitors with unique cultural attractions such as defense works and arms developed during the war with the Chinese communists. Finally, both culture and natural attractions await you to discover at Taijiang National Park.

Culture

Over centuries, several waves of settlement and shifts of sovereignty have bequeathed Taiwan a diverse cultural heritage and developing different local customs and traditions along the way. Such a mixture makes Taiwan a hotbed for various art forms which coexist, blend with or influence each other.

Tourists will be able to come in touch with all aspects of this beautiful country's multifaceted cultures. Because of its unique historical and geographical background, Taiwan has a rich and varied culture elements taken from different ethnic groups, including the indigenous peoples, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Japanese, and the Han Chinese (bringing traditions from China and creating their own in Taiwan). There are also many cultural remnants left by the people who previously inhabited Taiwan, including traditional architecture, relics of prehistoric civilizations, folk art, and traditions.

Today, the country is known as a home to top-notch cinema and popular music talent, has one of the world’s highest density of religious structures, especially Taoist and Buddhist temples and shrines.

Food

Food composes a very important part of Taiwanese culture. The variety is overwhelmingly abundant, while some pretty unfamiliar to foreign visitors. The basic Taiwanese cuisine is typically rice or noodles. The most famous ones are perhaps “Lurou fan,” braised pork rice, and beef noodles.

Bubble tea, Din Tai Fung’s Xiaolongbao (pork dumplings) and pineapple cake are also iconic Taiwanese foods. However, there are also many exotic choices such as American, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Italian… restaurants can be found in almost every corner of Taiwan. Vegetarian and Halal food are also available.

Transportation

There is a wide variety of travel options in Taiwan; scooters/ motorcycles and cars are the most popular. Many foreigners rent one during their time here. If you prefer to travel in a slower pace, public bicycle is also widely available for rental in major cities.

Public transportation is pretty convenient in cities such as Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung. Visitors may find mass rapid transit systems (MRT) and city bus easy to take. For intercity traveling, Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) provide excellent service. Coach services connect Taiwan cities in a convenient, cheaper way. Taxis are abundant in metro areas. Taiwan's domestic airline is quite active as well.

Weather

Taiwan is considered subtropical, as the Tropic of Cancer cuts through the island near the city of JiaYi. Summer lasts from May through September and tends to be very hot and humid. The average daytime highs range from 30-35 degrees Celsius (86-95 degrees Fahrenheit). Winters are generally mild, although the high humidity tends to make it feel colder than it really is. Winter runs from December through February with average highs of around 16-20 degrees Celsius (61-68 degrees Fahrenheit). The coldest time is usually around Chinese New Year at the end of January and the beginning of February.

The rainy season typically starts from April to May. During this season, drizzling rain continuously falls on the Island. If you plan to visit Taiwan during this time, remember to carry an umbrella with you. Typhoons sometimes hit the country during summer time (July to September).

Trade

Taiwan’s economy heavily depends on foreign trade due to limited natural resources and a small domestic market. The economy stands the fourth place in Asia and 17th overall in the IMD 2018 world competitiveness rankings.

In 2017, Taiwan ranked as the world’s 18th largest exporter and 19th largest importer. According to International Trade Centre (ICT), Taiwan mainly exports electronic parts (44.5%), machinery mechanical appliances (11.5%), and plastic products (6.4%) to major destinations such as Mainland China, ASEAN, the United States, and the European Union. The main imports are electrical parts (25%), mineral products (15%), and machinery, mechanical appliances (13%). The top import origins are Mainland China, Japan, the United States, ASEAN, and the European Union.

Currently, the Government is promoting the “New Southward Policy,” which is focusing on strengthening relations and trade between Taiwan and South and Southeast Asian nations. In addition to APEC and WTO membership, Taiwan has in force FTAs with several Latin American countries, ECFA with Mainland China, ASTEP with Singapore and ANZTEC with New Zealand.