After his defeat at the hands of the
communists in 1949, Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to Taiwan with the
treasures of China, accumulated by emperors over thousands of years.
The museum now houses the world's best collection of Chinese artistic
Taipei night market
There are a number of night markets in Taipei. This is the place to go
to see crowds of people, great food and lots of bargains.
One of six national parks, Taroko has many
peaks over 9000 feet and the spectacular Taroko Gorge.
Chiang Kai-Shek memorial
hall, National Theater
Also known as DaGuan Mountain, this high resort area has views featuring
trees 3000 years old
Taiwan is a modern industrialised megalopolis clinging to the fringes
of an ancient culture; a string of teeming cities at the feet of a
glorious mountain range. It has traditional noodles from a 7-Eleven,
aboriginal tribes in mini-skirts and a day of temple rituals followed by
If you step outside chaotic Taipei you'll discover why Taiwan is
known as Ilha Formosa, 'the beautiful island'. Mountain peaks puncture a
sea of clouds, slick black volcanic rock wraps the coastlines and
waterfalls shroud themselves in mist. Taiwan is a computer-generated
"The complexity of politics in Taiwan is shaped by its contradictory
position in the world. It alternates among the top three positions
in foreign exchange reserves, ranks thirteenth in foreign trade, has
the sixteenth largest army, stands eighteenth in GNP and
twenty-fourth in GDP per capita, and belongs among the top
one-third in population size. Yet it is excluded from the United
Nations, recognized by only thirty-one countries, geographically
small, and tucked close to China, its main antagonist, and far from
the United States, its main supporter.
Within China, Taiwan is again both
large and small. Despite its large GNP and foreign trade, it
is the second-smallest Chinese province in size and sixth smallest
in population. Taiwan is large as a country but small as part
of China; wealthy economically but exposed diplomatically and
militarily; a prize and a threat for mainland China; for the rest of
the world, a legal anomaly that can neither be abandoned nor
-The Great Wall and the Empty Fortress - China's Search for
Security, Andrew J. Nathan & Robert S. Ross
Taiwan is the
island which has for all practical purposes been independent for
half a century but which China regards as a renegade province that
must be re-united with the mainland.
Legally, most nations - and the UN -
acknowledge the position of the Chinese government that Taiwan is a
province of China, and as a result Taiwan has formal diplomatic
relations with only 26 countries and no seat at the UN.
China insists that no state can have formal
ties with both mainland China and Taiwan. But despite its diplomatic
isolation, Taiwan has become one of Asia's big traders.
The Chinese nationalist government of
President Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan ahead of the advance of
Communists under Mao Zedong in 1949. The government-in-exile
established Taipei as its capital and for decades hoped to reclaim
control over the mainland.
The leadership of mainland China has reserved
the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, and has
missiles aimed at the island. The military threat is partly offset
by the United States' cooperation with Taipei, and by the military
capacity of Taiwan itself - one of the world's big arms purchasers.
Taiwan is considered to have achieved an
economic miracle, becoming one of the world's top producers of
computer technology. In the early 1990s it made the transition from
an authoritarian one-party state to a democracy.
- Population: 22.5 million
(government statistic, 2002)
- Capital: Taipei
- Area: 36,188 sq km (13,972 sq
- Major languages: Mandarin Chinese
(official), Min Nan Chinese (Taiwanese)
- Major religions: Taoism,
- Life expectancy: 72 years (men),
78 years (women) (government statistics)
- Monetary unit: 1 New Taiwan
dollar (NT$) = 100 cents (current exchange rate is about 32 NT$
= 1 US$)
- Main exports: Computer equipment,
textiles, basic metals, equipment, plastic and rubber products,
- GNI per capita: US $13,320 (World
- Internet domain: .tw
- International dialling code: +886
A quick history
Cell phones in Taiwan