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Edit Title:[HugChina] Taiwan in brief
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Bernd Chang
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The island of Taiwan lies some 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait, and has an area of 35,801 km2. The official name of Taiwan with Taipei as the capital is Republic of China. Formosa was once used as the name of Taiwan.

General information

Area: 35,980 km2

Population: 23,046,177 (as of 2009)

Capital City: Taipei

Nationalities: Han (97%), and Gaoshan (3%)

Coastline : 1,566 kilometers .

GDP (PPP): $695.388 billion (2007)

Average temperature: annual temperature is 20 - 25oC; 13 - 20oC in January and 24 - 29oC in July.

Major cities: Jilong, Gaoxiong, Tainan, Taizhong, Xinzhu, Pingdong, and Taidong.

Geography of Taiwan

The island of Taiwan lies some 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of China, across the Taiwan Strait, and has an area of 35,801 km2 (13,822.8 sq mi). The East China Sea lies to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest. The island is characterized by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds, consisting mostly of rugged mountains running in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population. 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 fourth-highest island. Taroko National Park, located on the mountainous eastern side of the island, has good examples of mountainous terrain, gorges and erosion caused by a swiftly flowing river.

The island of Taiwan 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. The upper part of the crust on the island is primarily made up of a series of terranes, mostly old island arcs which have been forced together by the collision of the forerunners of the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate. These have been further uplifted as a result of the detachment of a portion of the Eurasian Plate as it was subducted beneath remnants of the Philippine Sea Plate, a process which left the crust under Taiwan more buoyant.

The east and south of Taiwan are a complex system of belts formed by, and part of the zone of, active collision between the North Luzon Trough portion of the Luzon Volcanic Arc and South China, where accreted portions of the Luzon Arc and Luzon forearc form the eastern Coastal Range and parallel inland Longitudinal Valley of Taiwan respectively.

The major seismic faults in Taiwan correspond to the various suture zones between the various terranes. These have produced major quakes throughout the history of the island. On 21 September 1999, a 7.3 quake known as the "921 earthquake" occurred. The seismic hazard map for Taiwan by the USGS shows 9/10 of the island as the highest rating (most hazardous).

Climate of Taiwan

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 meiyu 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.

Economy of Taiwan

Taiwan's quick industrialization and rapid growth during the latter half of the 20th century has been called the "Taiwan Miracle" (台灣奇蹟) or "Taiwan Economic Miracle". As Taiwan has developed alongside Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, they are collectively known as the "Four Asian Tigers".

Japanese rule prior to and during World War II brought changes in the public and private sectors, most notably in the area of public works, which enabled rapid communications and facilitated transport throughout much of the island. The Japanese also improved public education and made it compulsory for all Taiwanese citizens.

When the KMT government fled to Taiwan it brought the entire gold reserve and the foreign currency reserve of mainland China to the island, which stabilized prices and reduced hyperinflation. More importantly, as part of its retreat to Taiwan, the KMT brought the intellectual and business elites from mainland China. The KMT government instituted many laws and land reforms that it had never effectively enacted on mainland China. The government also implemented a policy of import-substitution, attempting to produce imported goods domestically. Much of this was made possible through US economic aid, subsidizing the higher cost of domestic production.

In 1962, Taiwan had a per-capita gross national product (GNP) of $170, placing its economy on a par with those of Zaire and Congo. By 2008 per-capita GNP, adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), had risen to $33,000, contributing to a Human Development Index equivalent to that of other developed countries.

Today Taiwan has a dynamic, capitalist, export-driven economy with gradually decreasing state involvement in investment and foreign trade. Some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Real annual growth in GDP has averaged about eight percent during the past three decades. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's fifth largest as of 31 December 2007.

Agriculture constitutes only two percent of the GDP, down from 35 percent in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and with more capital and technology-intensive industries replacing them. Taiwan has become a major foreign investor in mainland China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. It is estimated that some 50,000 Taiwanese businesses and 1,000,000 businesspeople and their dependents are established in the PRC.

History of Taiwan

prehistoric period: Malayo-polynese tribes, ancestors of present-day aborigines, settle in Taiwan.

1387: the Penghu islands <澎湖列島> (also known as the "Pescadores" in the West) are incorporated into the administrative system of the Chinese Ming dynasty.

1622: the Dutch "Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie" (VOC - United East India Co.) occupies the Penghu islands.

1623: the VOC gives up the Penghu islands and withdraws to the area around present day Tainan on Taiwan.

1626-1642: Spanish footholds in northern Taiwan (near present day Keelung and Tanshui).

1644: The manchurian Qing dynasty is established in China (until 1911).

1661/62: Zheng Chenggong withdraws to Taiwan and expels the Dutch. Beginning of systematic sinification of Taiwan: Han Chinese peasants are encouraged to settle in Taiwan, agriculture and the administrative system are developed following Chinese patterns.

1683: the regents of Zheng's grandson (13 yrs.) surrender to the Qing dynasty. Taiwan becomes a prefecture of Fujian province <福建>, seat of government: "Taiwanfu" <臺灣府>, present day city of Tainan <台南>)

1683-1895: Reign of the Qing dynasty in Taiwan. Rapid increase of Han Chinese population despite frequently imposed immigration restrictions. Frequent armed conflicts settlers of different origin, between Chinese settlers and the aborigines as well as the Chinese authorities.

1810: population of about 2 million Han Chinese.

1858: ("unequal") Treaty of Tianjin: the ports of Taiwanfu (Tainan) in the South and und Tanshui <淡水> in the North are opened to trade by the Wester colonial powers.

1884/85: due to the conflict with China about North-Vietnam, blockade of Taiwan and occupation of Jilong (at the time: <雞籠> "Keelung") and Danshui by France.

1885: Taiwan acquires the status of a province of its own. The reform minded governor Liu Mingchuan <劉銘傳> begins with the construction of modern infrastructure (fortifications, railway, navigation, telegraph, coal mining). The provincial capital is moved from Tainan to Taipei.

1895: as a result of the war about Korea, that China lost against Japan, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands are ceded to Japan. Taiwan is conquered by the Japanese between May and October. Guerilla warfare continues until approx. 1915.

1895-1945: Japanese colonial reign and complete isolation of Taiwan from China.

2nd World War:attempt at realising full Japanisation of the Han-Chinese population.

1943: Allied Cairo Declaration: after the end of the war, Taiwan and the Penghu-Islands (Pescadores) shall be restored to the "Republic of China".

1945: the ruling party of China, the Kuomintang (KMT) takes over Taiwan after Japanese surrender and dispatches General Chen Yi <陳儀> to be the provisional provincial governor. Han-population: around 6 million, Japanese are repatriated (roughly 5% of the population).

beginning with February 28th, 1947: ignited by the"2.28 Incident" ("er-er-ba shijian" <二‧二八事件>) uprising against govenor Chen Yi's discriminating and corrupt regime that seizes the entire island. Troop reinforcements suppress the uprising with estimated more than 10,000 casualties (including a high proportion of the Taiwanese elite).

1948/49: after being defeated in the civil war against the Communists, Taiwan becomes the last Retreat of the KMT's "Republic of China" under Chiang Kai-shek <蔣介石>. More than 2 million refugees from the mainland. State of emergency remains in force for decades.

about 1960-1980: Emergence of the Taiwanese Economic miracle.

1971: the "representatives of Chiang Kai-shek" are excluded from the United Nations and the "People's Republic of China" takes their seat.

1975: Death of Chiang Kai-shek. His successor is Vice President Yan Jiagan.

1978: Chiang Kai-shek's son Jiang Jingguo <蔣經國> becomes President.

Sept. 28th, 1986: Founding of the oppositional "Democratic Progressive Party" (DPP) is tolerated by the KMT.

July 15th, 1987: State of emergency is lifted.

November 1987: first visits of relatives to China are permitted.

Jan. 1st, 1988: "newspaper ban" is lifted: newspapers may now be published with more pages, new newspapers can be established.

January 1st, 1988: Death of President Chiang Ching-kuo. His successor is Vice President Li Teng-hui ("Li Denghui" <李登輝>), a native Taiwanese.

May 5th, 1990: President Li Teng-hui is reelected by the National Assembly (1st regular term of office).

March 1996, Lee Teng-hui was elected by the first popular vote held in the ROC during the 1996 Presidential election.

March 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, was elected as the first non-KMT President.

March 2004, Chen Shui-bian was reelected as President of ROC.

March 2008, Ma Ying-jeou of KMT was elected as President of ROC.

Administrative divisions

Taiwan has a total of 18 couties listed below:

* Changhua County - 1 city, 25 townships.

* Chiayi County - 2 cities, 16 townships.

* Hsinchu County - 1 city, 12 townships.

* Hualien County - 1 city, 12 townships.

* Kaohsiung County - 1 city, 26 townships.

* Miaoli County - 1 city, 17 townships.

* Nantou County - 1 city, 12 townships.

* Penghu County - 1 city, 5 townships.

* Pingtung County - 1 city, 32 townships.

* Taichung County - 3 cities, 18 townships.

* Tainan County - 2 cities, 29 townships.

* Taipei County - 10 cities, 19 townships.

* Taitung County - 1 city, 15 townships.

* Taoyuan County - 4 cities, 9 townships.

* Yilan County - 1 city, 11 townships.

* Yunlin County - 1 city, 19 townships.

* Kinmen County - 6 townships.

* Lienchiang County - 4 townships.

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Taiwan

Taiwan is a modern industrialized megalopolis clinging to the fringes of an ancient culture; a string of stinking cities at the feet of a glorious mountain range. Taiwan is traditional noodles from a 7-Eleven, aboriginal tribes in mini-skirts, a day of temple rituals followed by waterslide rides.

The human tide of Taipei will sweep you off your feet, but if you step outside the city limits you'll discover why Taiwan is also known as Ilha Formosa, the "beautiful island". Mountain peaks puncturing the sea of clouds, slick black volcanic coastlines, waterfalls shrouded in mist: Taiwan is a computer-generated Chinese watercolor.

Taiwan's spine is a ridge of steep mountains, falling away to a rocky coastline on the east and a narrow, fertile plain (where 90% of the population lives) on the west. Mount Yushan is, at 3952 meters (12,963 feet) above sea level, the highest peak in North-East Asia outside of Tibet. The Central Mountain Range bisects Taiwan from north to south and about two-thirds of the island is covered with forested peaks. The rest of the island is made up of foothills, terraced flatlands, and coastal plains and basins.

The island's high mountain forests are predominantly cyprus, although camphor used to grow in abundance. Taiwan was once home to many endemic species, including the Formosan black bear, the Formosan Sika deer, and the Formosan landlocked salmon. In its headlong scurry towards economic prosperity, Taiwan has managed to destroy most of the western coast's habitat and wipe out a species or two, although the inaccessibility of the rest of the island has made it a natural wildlife reserve. But in the last 20 years, Taiwan has declared 67 reserves, including six national parks, and instituted some fairly hefty environmental legislation.

List of tourist attractions in Taiwan

Buildings

* Fokuong Shan

* Presidential Office Building

* Shin Kong Life Tower

* Taipei 101

* Tuntex Sky Tower

* Yuanshan Grand Hotel

Temples

* Chaotian Temple at Beigang

Mountains

* Alishan

* Sun Moon lake

* Yushan Mountain

Museums

* National Palace Museum

* Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

* Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

* Fort San Domingo

* Fine Arts Museum

National Parks

* Kenting National Park

* Shei-Pa National Park

* Taroko National Park

* Yangmingshan National Park

* Yushan National Park

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