Facts About Taiwan
More than twenty-three million people live in Taiwan and on its surrounding islands.
The population is comprised of many ethnicities. There is aboriginal natives, who make up 2 percent of the population, and ethnic Chinese. A distinction is made between the ethnic Chinese who came before and after the great Chinese Revolution of 1949. The Taiwanese, who came before, account for eighty four percent, and the mainland Chinese, who came after, make up just fourteen percent of the whole population here..
Taiwan is an island less than 100 miles off the southeast coast of mainland China. It is two-and-a-half times as long as it is wide, with gentle plains in the west and high mountains in the east. This rugged but scenic mountain range runs north and south, with its highest peak, Yushan, rising 13,110 feet above sea level. The range plunges into the Pacific Ocean, which makes much of the east coast uninhabitable, thus 90 percent of the population lives in the west. A few small islands nearby also are under Taiwanese control.
Taiwan’s climate is subtropical with wet and dry seasons. The summers are hot and humid, and the winters can be very cold, with some snow fall at higher elevations. the mountainous areas are usually cool year-round, and receive the most rainfall, especially during the summer months. The northern part of the island receives rain year-round and has no marked dry season. Rain can be especially heavy during monsoon season from July through September. Taiwan also experiences numerous small earth quakes each year.
Since 1987, Taiwan has been a democracy. The parties are the Kuomintang (KMT) or the Nationalist Party and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Taiwan is a province of China, not an independent country, so be careful not to mistake it for one. Relations between Taiwan and China are often hostile, and were particularly so during the period preceding Taiwan’s first direct presidential elections in 1996 when President Lee Teng-Hui was returned to office. The citizens of both China and Taiwan are divided about the unification. You should avoid conversations about politics, because the topic evokes strong emotional reactions in most people.
There are approximately 7.5 million Taoists, 8 million Buddhists, and hundreds of thousands representing other religions in Taiwan today. Most Taiwanese also believe in a Chinese folk religion, which is based mainly on Confucianism and consists of different cultural beliefs.
Taiwan’s form of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar. Paper currency ranges from NT$100 to NT$2,000.