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Facts About Taiwan

20 Questions People Always Ask Me About Taiwan

Curious about Taiwan? You’re not the only one! Whenever I travel and tell people I live in Taiwan, I'm assaulted with questions. This Facts About Taiwan page will answer some of the most common questions I'm usually asked.

Check out why a vacation to Taiwan is a wicked idea!

where is taiwanLet's face it... there's a lot of confusion about this place and most people don't know it as well as let's say... China or Thailand. I hope these facts about Taiwan help you make more sense of this mysterious tropical island.

Is Taiwan a country?

This one shouldn't be in the Facts About Taiwan section. I should have a page called Taiwanese Ambiguities. I don't even know if I should be writing about this...

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For now, let's just say that Taiwan has the eight criteria required to be a country. But the Chinese government denies that and strongly opposes the idea of Taiwanese independence. Few countries recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.


Where is Taiwan?

Taiwan is an island in Eastern Asia. It is only 120 km off the coast of China's Fujian province. It is south of Japan and north of the Philippines. More info: Where is Taiwan!

How big is Taiwan?

Taiwan is about the same size as Switzerland or Belgium. Its total area is 35,801 square km.

Why is it also called Formosa?

Ihla Formosa is how the Portuguese explorers called the island 500 years ago when they first saw it from their vessels. It means "Beautiful Island".

formosa taiwan mountains

What is the population of Taiwan?

Taiwan's population is about 23 million people. It is the fifteenth most densely populated country in the world. It is crowded indeed in some of the big cities. Want to know more about the population of Taiwan?

What is Taiwan's currency?

The country's currency is called the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD or NT$). In Chinese it's commonly called yuán or kuài. Taiwanese money comes in the following denominations:

1, 5, 10, and 50NT$. Notes: 100, 500, and 1000NT$.

Want to know more about Taiwan's currency? Should you bargain in Taiwan? Should you tip in restaurants or bars? How can you open a bank account in Taiwan? Get answers to all these questions and to find more tips and information about money in Taiwan.

What language do Taiwanese people speak?

Mandarin Chinese is the official language on the island and is spoken by most people. Taiwanese, a Chinese dialect from Fujian Province in China, is spoken by 70% of the population. Also, due to 50 years of Japanese rule, lots of people born before 1940 are still fluent in Japanese. Read more about the languages spoken in Taiwan.

mandarin chinese taiwan language

What is Taiwan's capital?

Taipei, located in the northern part of the island - is Taiwan's capital city. Tainan, in the south, was the nation's capital between 1661 and 1887 during the Qing Dynasty. More facts about Taiwan's capital on this page.

What are the most important cities in Taiwan?

Taipei is Taiwan's biggest and most heavily populated city with 6.5 million people residing in the greater metropolitan area. Kaohsiung (2.6 million) and Taichung (2 million) are the second and third largest cities respectively. Other big Taiwanese cities are Hsinchu, Hualien, Taitung, Taoyuan, Keelung, Miaoli, and Chiayi.

taiwan cities

Who is the President of Taiwan?

Hong Kong born Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in May 2008. Before that, he was mayor of Taipei. Chen Shui-bian was the previous president. More on the government of Taiwan here.

How is Taiwan's Geography?

2/3 of the island is covered with the densely forested Central Mountain Chain. The majority of the population lives in busy metropolitan areas on plains, and basins on the western part of the island. More on the geography of Taiwan here.

Read about earthquakes in Taiwan.

What is Taiwan's highest mountain?

Imposing Mt. Jade (Yushan) is the highest mountain in Taiwan at 3952m. It's in the central part of the island. With 240 peaks that reach above 3000 meters, Taiwan is also an amazing hiking destination.

What are the main Taiwanese holidays?

Taiwan's festivals are colorful and extraordinarily animated. For Taiwanese people they mean family time. For you... a once in a lifetime opportunity to understand the meaning of the word "exotic". Truly, it doesn't get any better than that. They are the real deal! Most of them are celebrated according to the Chinese lunar calendar. They are…

taiwan festival

What are Taiwan's main tourist attractions?

Taiwan is renowned for it's colorful temples, spectacular gorges, mountain scenery, hot springs, festivals, food, and to some extent... quiet tropical beaches. Taroko Gorge, Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, Lukang and Kenting are five famous tourist magnets outside Taipei.

Browse all the tourist attractions and cities
featured on Taiwanese Secrets Travel Guide!

Are Taiwanese people friendly?

Taiwanese people are exceptionally pleasant and hospitable with westerners. It's in their nature to go out of their way to help foreigners (it's a completely different story with their Taiwanese peers, though). They also have a far more laidback attitude (sometimes a little too careless) than their neighbors in the Far East.

Learn how to deal with Chinese people in Taiwan: 18 Essential Chinese Etiquette!

taiwan lukang lantern

Is the culture in Taiwan and China the same?

I have been to China quite a few times and to me, there are more differences than similarities. The main dissimilarities are the way people think... and hygiene! Taiwanese are open-minded, and they accept opposing views. In China, I've been threatened and warned to watch what I was saying on many occasions. I learned over time that disapproving with someone in China often leads to trouble.

On the hygienic side, Taiwanese don't spit in public, won't drop chewed bones on the floor of restaurants and trains, and understand that public toilets should be cleaned once in a while. They are also quieter eaters and don't slurp, chew, chump, or burp as much as the mainlanders. Not that there's anything wrong with these eating habits... I'm just highlighting cultural differences here.

What are some Taiwanese celebrities?

Film maker Ang Lee and New York Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang are by far the two most recognized and famed Taiwanese celebrities. Mandopop signers like Jolin Tsai and Jay Chou are also extremely popular in Asia. More on Taiwan music here.

How is the climate in Taiwan?

Like most tropical destinations, Taiwan is enjoyable any time of the year. There are two distinct seasons: hot and humid, and chilly and damp. Generally, the central and southern part of the island get much more sunny days than Taipei and the east coast. More about Taiwan's climate here.

taiwan weather climate Taichung

What's life in Taiwan like for a westerner?

Life in Taiwan is amazing for a westerner! It's somewhat easy to get a decent teaching job, and the locals are super friendly. The possibilities for adventure, travel and cultural exploration are endless on this "little" island.

Why do people refer to Taiwan as "little tiger"?

The name Asian Tigers (the four little tigers) refers to the economies of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea. These four economies had amazing growth rate and industrial development between the 1960s and 1990s.

Need more information about Taiwan? Check out our 20 Most Frequently Asked Questions about Taiwan!

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