I knew nothing about Taiwan besides the universal “knowledge” that things made in Taiwan are of better quality than those made in China. Then we started travelling through Eastern Asia. To tell the truth, we only visited Taiwan because the flight from the Philippines to Vietnam was cheaper through Taoyuan International Airport. So I decided that instead of having a few hours layover, we would stay longer, explore Taiwan and learn what is Taiwan famous for?

After a week we learnt some of the most fascinating facts about Taiwan and fell completely in love with this beautiful island.

facts about Taiwan - Asian country

Taiwan’s location and geography

Taiwan is a small island located just off the coast of mainland China in East Asia. 

Central Taiwan is mountainous and sloping sharply downwards to the east coast to the Pacific Ocean and gently the west to the Taiwan Strait. The highest mountain in Taiwan is Yushan mountain (Mount Jade), at 3,952 meters.

The island has many rivers, lakes and hot springs.

The climate in Taiwan is tropical, with hot, humid summers and mild winters.

Taiwan experiences about three or four typhoons a year and over a thousand earthquakes

Taiwan’s Size and population density

Taiwan is so small that you can drive around it in 8 hours, and on the fast train, you can get from the north to the south of the island in two hours. 

The area of Taiwan island is about 36,000 square kilometres (14,500 miles) 

With over 23 million residents, Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has almost 100 people per square kilometre (386/sq mi).

The vast majority of the Taiwanese are descendants of early settlers who moved from mainland China in the 17th century.

Taiwan Offical Name

The official name of the country is the Republic of China [ROC], though Mainland China claims it is part of the People’s Republic of China and calls it “Taiwan, Province of China.”

It was formerly known as Formosa when it was under colonial rule by Spain until 1642 and Portugal until 1644 when it became part of the Chinese Empire.

Taiwan Flag

The flag of Taiwan was adopted on September 25, 1945. The flag is red, with a white sun on a blue background located in the top left corner. The flag is called by the Taiwanese people,  Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth.

Currency in Taiwan

The currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (TWD). You’ll be able to exchange your currency for TWD at most banks and hotels in Taiwan. Be sure to have some smaller bills and coins on hand, as many places don’t accept anything larger than a $100 bill.

Is Taiwan a country?

Yes, Taiwan is a country, but because China claims that Taiwan belongs to China, many countries don’t officially recognize it. There are only 15 governments that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country: Vatican City, Swaziland, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti, Eswatini, Tuvalu, Nauru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Marshall Islands and Palau.

Most Taiwanese people see themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese, though Taiwanese are ethnically Han Chinese.

Taiwanese history

The history of Taiwan is a long and complex one. The island has been inhabited by various cultures for centuries and has been colonized and occupied by a number of different cultures. Taiwan was under Spanish colonial rule in the seventeenth century, followed by Dutch rule until 1662. It then became part of the Chinese Empire under the Qing dynasty until 1895, when it was ceded to Japan. Taiwan was ruled by Japan until 1945 when it was returned to China. However, Taiwan has declared itself not only to be independent of the Peoples Republic of China but actually as the true China.

Relationship with China

Taiwan has a complicated relationship with mainland China. After the Chinese civil war in 1949, the leader of the Communist Party, Mao Zedong, defeated Chiang Kai-shek, who fled to Taiwan. Since then, Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland. The existing tension between these two countries is because mainland China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country and the fact that Taiwanese people share the same ethnicity with mainland Chinese. Although both of these countries have been governed separately since 1949, each has still claimed to be the only legitimate government of all of China.

What languages are spoken in Taiwan?

Mandarin and Taiwanese Hokkien are the two official languages in Taiwan. Mandarin is spoken by most people throughout the country, whereas Taiwanese Hokkien is only used by the aboriginal peoples, mainly in eastern Taiwan.

Taiwan culture – facts

Courtesy, honour and respect for the elders are the most valued customs in Taiwanese culture.

Taiwanese culture is deeply influenced by Asia and, more specifically, by Japanese and Chinese culture.

Buddhism is part of Taiwanese life and is practised throughout the country

Eating out is one of the most popular pastimes in Taiwan, so you will find many restaurants and cafes everywhere. Every night market will offer food stalls serving everything from stinky tofu to deep-fried ice cream or marinaded snakes.

Fun facts about Taiwan

The Taiwanese national dish is stinky tofu.

In Taiwan, Garbage trucks play music – You will not find big garbage cans in Taiwan; instead, everyone keeps the rubbish bags in their home and then at a certain time, the garbage truck plays classical music, and every one comes with their own rubbish and throws them into the truck. During Christmas, time the trucks play Xmas tunes.

Public transport is both efficient and cheap, hence many people don’t own a car. Most private vehicles in Taiwan are scooters, numbering over 15 million.

In metro stations, lines are drawn on the platforms to indicate where people should queue before entering the train. This allows for smooth boarding and alighting to the train, even during rush hours. No wonder the Taiwan metro is one of the most efficient and cleanest metros in the world.

Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world. You can walk safely at night, with no need to worry about being threatened or mugged. You can leave your backpack with iPhones and cameras on the table in a cafe when and no one touches it.

Taiwan is proudly known as the “butterfly kingdom,” The island is home to nearly 400 species of butterflies.

Taiwan is not only famous for its food but also for its night markets. There is one every day of the week, and most of them open at around 4-5 pm and start winding up at midnight.

Taiwanese girls are obsessed with having fair skin; they avoid the sun, and you can find lotions with whitening effects for sale everywhere.

Food in Taiwan

Taiwan is well known for its delicious food, which draws influences from all over Asia. Some of the most famous dishes include Beef Noodle Soup, Bubble Tea, and Xiao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Dumplings).

Taiwan is one of the places where you can try the weirdest food in the world and sometimes the yummiest too.

Facts about Taipei City

Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan and its largest city. Taipei city is located in northern Taiwan.

Tapei is home to one of the world’s tallest buildings. Until 2009 when Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai, Tapei 101 was the tallest building in the world. Taipei 101 is 509 meters tall and has 101 floors. Now it is no longer the tallest building, but Starbucks can still boast that this is their highest outlet globally. 

National Parks in Taiwan

Taiwan is home to a number of beautiful and well-preserved national parks. Some of the most popular ones include Taroko National Park, Sun Moon Lake National Park, Yangmingshan and Shei Pa National Park.

Each park offers its own unique set of natural wonders to explore. Taroko National Park is known for its stunning marble canyons and cliffs, while Sun Moon Lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and tranquil atmosphere. Kenting National Park is a great place to go if you’re looking for some fun in the sun, offering long sandy beaches and coral reefs.

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