|official: Republic of
China, not internationally recognized
|Form of government
||New Taiwan dollars
||UTC +8 = CET +7 (no daylight saving time)
|Telephone area code
The island of Taiwan (officially: Republic of China,
not internationally recognized) is located in the
western Pacific and is separated from the Chinese
mainland by Formosa Street (distance approx. 160 km).
The country consists of the main island of Taiwan, the
Penghu Islands (also known as the Pescadores Islands,
127 km²), the Quemoy Islands (150 km²) and the Matsu
Islands (29 km²). In total, the country covers 85
islands and an area of 36,000 km². The main island of
Taiwan is also known under the name Formosa (Ilha
Formosa = beautiful island), which was given to it by
The island of Taiwan consists of three quarters of
mountains, the rest is lowland, which is mainly in the
west of the island. The coastal plain in western Taiwan
is between eight and 45 km wide and merges to the east
in the hilly country. The east and the center of the
island are occupied by three almost parallel mountain
ranges of volcanic origin, which rise to heights of over
3,000 m. Numerous cross valleys break up the mountains.
In the Chungyang Mountains, which adjoin the slowly
rising hills in the west, there is the highest elevation
in the country, the Yu Shan (Jadeberg) with a height of
The Taitung Trench separates the Chungyang Mountains
from the Haian Mountains further to the east (up to
approx. 1,600 m). This falls in steep steps to the
Pacific, on the east coast there are cliffs up to 700 m
high. The capital, Taipei, is in the north of the island
on the coast. A large number of rivers originate in the
mountains, but only the 160 km long Tanshui in the north
of the country is navigable.
Taiwan lies in the transition area from the
subtropical to the tropical climate. Hot summers and
warm winters are characteristic, with temperatures
rising slightly from north to south: The average January
temperatures in the coastal plain are around 15 กใ C in
the north and around two degrees more in the south. In
the capital, Taipei, in the north of the country, they
are also around 15 กใ C in January. It is correspondingly
cooler at high altitudes in the mountains, in areas in
the Chungyang Mountains there is permanent frost in
winter. In July the average values in Taipei and in
the south of the coastal area are at 28 กใ C. The annual
rainfall in the north averages 2,200 mm, in the
mountains the values can be significantly higher. The
rain falls mostly in the summer months. In the south,
quantities of around 1,800 mm are measured annually, it
hardly rains here in winter. In Taiwan, hurricanes
(typhoons) can occur in summer.
Flora and fauna
Around 55% of Taiwan's land area is forested.
Mangrove forests grow directly on the coast in the west;
bamboo, palm and acacia forests follow up to a height of
approx. 800 m. Subtropical evergreen forests, for
example with Japanese feather and camphor trees, grow at
altitudes between approx. 1,000 and 1,800 m. Above 2,000
m there is a mixed forest zone with beech, elm and maple
that changes into a coniferous forest zone (from approx.
2,600 m). Grass and cushion plants can be found above
Although Taiwan is very densely populated, the island
is rich in wildlife. Several national parks and
protected areas have been set up to protect them.
However, many of the animal species that have occurred
have become rare or threatened with extinction,
including, for example, Formosa black bear, Sika deer,
Mikadofasan, crested gibbon and rock monkey, which can
only be found in remote regions. Over 500 species of
birds are known on the island, over half of which are
A total of around 22.7 million people live in Taiwan.
The average population density is 631 people per square
kilometer, making Taiwan one of the most densely
populated areas in the world. Population growth is
currently 0.4% and is relatively low compared to other
Asian countries. Around 92% of the people of Taiwan live
in cities, the capital Taipei is the largest city with
2.62 million residents, followed by Gaoxiong Kaohsiung)
with around 1.52 million, Taizhong (1.02 million) and
Tainan (750,000). All major cities are located on the
western coastal plain, the mountainous interior is
According to COUNTRYAAH, 84% of the population of Taiwan describe themselves
as Taiwanese and are descendants of Chinese settlers who
immigrated to the island from southern China between the
17th and 19th centuries. Approx. 14% of the population
are mainland Chinese, ie they came to Taiwan after 1945.
Around 2% belong to the Malay-Polynesian Gaoschan, which
can be divided into nine main tribes and which are
considered to be descendants of the indigenous people of
Just over 40% of the population of Taiwan are
committed to Buddhism, about 48% to the teachings of
Confucius and Daoism, both of which are often practiced
syncretistically. Christians and Muslims form religious
minorities. The official language in Taiwan is Chinese
(Mandarin). Taiwanese (a Chinese dialect) and English as
the commercial language are also used.
The living standard of the Taiwanese population is
high compared to the Asian region. The country has a
well-developed social and health system that also
applies in rural areas. The average life expectancy is
77 years. The illiteracy rate is given as 4%.
The Republic of China, as Taiwan is officially
called, is a parliamentary republic by the 1947
constitution, but has never officially declared itself
independent. The head of state is the president directly
elected by the people for a term of four years (Ma
Ying-jeou since May 2008), who may only be re-elected
once. He has extensive powers and appoints the Prime
Minister (Jiang Yi-huah since February 2013) to head the
government (Executive Yuan).
The highest legislative body in Taiwan is the
Legislative Council (Legislative Yuan). Its 113 deputies
are elected by the people in a combined majority and
proportional representation for a term of four years.
The Legislative Council is responsible for passing laws
and reviews the government. A total of over 90 political
parties are approved in Taiwan, but the two most
important by far are the Kuomintang National People's
Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
With few exceptions, Taiwan is not recognized
internationally as a representative of China under
international law or as an independent state. The
People's Republic of China regards Taiwan as a breakaway
province and has repeatedly threatened military action
in the event that Taiwan officially declares
independence. In fact, Taiwan meets all the criteria to
be considered an independent state.
At the administrative level, the country is divided
into five districts (shih), 14 counties and three
special districts (chuan-shih).
Taiwan is now one of the most important economies in
the world. The country has developed from an
agricultural to a modern industrialized country through
foreign investments (primarily from the USA) and joint
ventures with other countries.
Agriculture still contributed around 35% of gross
domestic product (GDP) in the mid-1950s, currently it is
less than 2%. Only about 5% of the workforce is employed
here. Rice is the main crop, and the favorable climate
sometimes allows up to three harvests a year. Sugar
cane, cereals, vegetables, fruit and tea are also grown.
Pig and poultry farming dominate in livestock farming.
Fishing and fish farming (squid, tuna, eel) are
important for export.
Industry contributes a good quarter to GDP. In
addition to the textile and clothing industry, the
metal, chemical and petrochemical industries, as well as
vehicle and mechanical engineering are decisive. Since
the late 1980s, Taiwan has become one of the leading
hardware manufacturers in the computer industry. Tourism
plays an important role in Taiwan as a source of foreign
The PRC was also Taiwan's most important trading
partner in 2013, ahead of Japan, the United States, Hong
Kong and Singapore.
The transport system is very well developed in the
coastal lowlands in the west of the island. A total of
around 38,000 kilometers are available on paved roads.
The country's rail networks have a total length of 1,841
kilometers. A high-speed train connects the two largest
cities in Taiwan, Taipei in the north and Kaohsiung in
the southwest. The ports of Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) and
Keelung are of great importance. The main international
airport is at Taipei.
The currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (= 100 cents).