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Han Chinese (97%), Aborigines (2%), Other (1%)
Mandarin / Taiwanese / Hakka / Aboriginal
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Taiwan is located in between the southeastern coast of the Asian continent and the East Asian islands distributed among the western Pacific Rim. To the north lie Japan and the Ryukyu Islands; to the south are the Philippine Islands; to the west is Mainland China. Taiwan is a long and narrow island stretching from north to south. The island is about 395 km long vertically and about 144 km in width with a total land area of around 36,000 square kilometers (about 14,400 square miles).
Taiwan is endowed with steep mountain ranges; therefore, great altitude differences occur throughout the island. The mountains mostly run from north to south. The highest point is Yushan Peak of the Yushan Mountain Range, which reaches an elevation of 3,952 meters above sea level making it the highest peak in Northeast Asia. Since mountain areas cover the majority of the island, Taiwan’s ecological resources are abundant. The plains of Taiwan are relatively narrow and found only in the western region and the longitudinal valley along the east coast. These also happen to be the most densely populated areas in Taiwan.
Taiwan belongs to tropical and subtropical climate zones that range from rainy to dry weather and hot to cool temperatures, depending on altitude and latitude. Taiwan's average annual rainfall is 2,515 mm.
Average temperature for the northern half of the island is about 21.7°C; average temperature for the southern half is around 24.1°C. The island is coldest from January through March with temperatures dropping to around 10°C. From June to August, hot weather prevails with temperatures rising up to 38°C. More moderate temperatures follow in the months between, with an average temperature of 25°C.
Taiwan has a population of about 23 million people which consists of various ethnic groups. The aborigines who have inhabited the island for around 8,000 years make up 2.3% of the total population; the Han Chinese who migrated to Taiwan in the seventeenth century constitute the rest of the population. The diversity of Taiwan’s culture and heritage formed with the integration of different ethnic groups and illustrate the harmony and prosperity possible among various religions, architecture, languages, lifestyles, and cuisines. Seventy percent of the population are concentrated in the five western metropolitan areas (Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung), among which the Taipei metropolis harbors Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan, and New Taipei City, the largest city in Taiwan.
Despite coming from distant provinces with complex languages and ethnic backgrounds, new immigrants who migrated along with the Republic of China Government in 1949 can generally communicate in Mandarin Chinese. With the advent of public education, Mandarin has become the official language of Taiwan's various ethnic groups.
Since many Taiwanese are of southern Fujianese descent, Minnan (the Southern Min dialect) is also widely spoken. The smaller groups of Hakka people and indigenous tribes continue to preserve their own languages. Many elderly people can also speak some Japanese, as they were once subjected to Japanese education before Taiwan was returned to Chinese rule in 1945 after the Japanese occupation, which lasted for half a century.
After the 1960s, Taiwan underwent economic and industrial reforms, and experienced rapid social development. The economic achievements of the 1970s and 1980s allowed Taiwan to rank among the Asian Tigers and, in the 1990s, among developed countries.
Since the 1980s, the economic structure of Taiwan gradually shifted from labor-intensive industries to high-tech industries, wherein the electronics industry was particularly vital to the world's economy. Taiwan has excelled in the semiconductor, optoelectronics, information technology, communications, and electronics fields. At present, the economy is shifting toward nanotechnology, biotechnology, optoelectronics, and the tourism service industry.
Moreover, international trade is the economic lifeline of Taiwan. Japan and the United States were Taiwan's top two trading partners until 2005, when Mainland China took over as Taiwan's main import/export trading region, with Japan and the United States coming in second and third.
In recent years, the grim financial situations of the U.S.A. and European economies and the economic slowdown in China had a joint impact on the economic performance of Taiwan. In 2020, Taiwan's economic growth rate was 3.11%, the gross domestic product (GDP) was $669,321 million USD, with an average per capita GDP of $28,383 USD,the gross national income (GNI) was $689,283 million USD, with an average per capita GNI of $29,230 USD. In terms of commodity prices, the consumer price index increased 0.06% this December (2020) in comparison to the last year. As for the employment situation, the average number of employed is 11.53 million people as of this December (2020); the average unemployment rate is 3.68%.
The North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area and the Northeast & Yilan Coast National Scenic Area are blessed with a wide variety of coastal terrains. Green mountains, azure seas and broad vistas are featured in this extraordinary part of Taiwan.
The incomparable natural setting of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area waits in the center of the island, and the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area offers eagle- spotting at Bagua Mountain, the highland fruits of Lishan and the sacred Buddhist sanctuary of Lion's Head Mountain.
Going further down south, one arrives at the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, blessed with sunshine and a tropical touch. Alongside the western edge of the Central Mountain Range is the Maolin National Scenic Area, home to several indigenous tribes and a place for observing the world of butterflies, Rukai stone houses and splendid natural scenery. Legendary tales depict the subtle beauty of the Alishan National Scenic Area, where you can immerse in the glorious scene of the sun rising over a sea of clouds and let it wash away all your burdens. In the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, one can enjoy the salt, sun, sea and other natural resources of the area and also visit the black-faced spoonbill’s natural habitat. In addition to five scenic reservoirs (Zengwen, Wushantou, Baihe, Jianshanpi, and Hutoupi), the Siraya National Scenic Area embraces the unique geology of Caoshan Moon World, the Zouzhen archaeological site, the skin-pampering mud springs of Guanziling, abundant agricultural resources and tasty specialties.
When passing through the green strip along the East Coast National Scenic Area and East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, one is greeted by breathtaking scenery.
The Penghu Islands (Penghu National Scenic Area) is comprised of ninety islets scattered in the Taiwan Strait. Flat landscapes mark these islands different from Taiwan’s main island. After shedding off its defensive armor, the Matsu National Scenic Area exudes a laidback lifestyle with its traditional stone houses, fantastic coastal rock formations and the charming characteristics of the Fujian culture.
9 National Parks