People and Geography
The territory under our government's effective control includes Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, as well as the Pratas and Spratly islands, with a total land area of 36,179 sq km.
The population of the Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu areas exceeded 22.52 million as of December 2002. Han people form the largest ethnic group in Taiwan, making up roughly 98 percent of the population, while the 11 tribes of indigenous inhabitants and other ethic minorities comprise the other 2%.
Taiwan is an island folding and rising right out of the ocean, formed by the collision of the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Plate. In terms of topography, hills and mountains cover the largest area of the island, with the Coastal Range, the Central Range, the Mount Snow Range, the Mount Jade Range and the Mount Ali Range all spreading from east to west. The Central Range constitutes the main body of the island, serving as a major watershed for rivers and streams in the east and west. The main peak of the Mount Jade Range, towering 3,952 meters above sea level, is the island's tallest peak. To the west of the Mount Ali Range, the topography descends gradually into basins and plains, which are, from north to south respectively, the Taipei Basin, the Tao-Chu-Miao Terrace, the Taichung Basin, the Chianan Plain and the Pingtung Plain.
It is like summer all the year round in Taiwan, with a yearly average temperature of 20c to 25c. The annual rainfall is about 2,500 mm, as the northeast monsoon in winter, the southwest monsoon in summer and typhoons from June to November bring plenty of rain to the entire island. Warm winters, hot summers and abundant rainfall mark the three features of the climate in Taiwan.
Education and CulturePeople and Geography
As an immigrant society where different cultures converge, Taiwan has managed to harmonize these cultural resources and develop a rich and unique culture of its own. As its democratic and economic development has flourished in recent decades, Taiwan's intercourse with the rest of the world has become more frequent by the day, adding even more variety and color to local society and culture. Throughout the most recent centuries of Taiwan's history, different ethnic groups coexisted through competition and accommodation. They preserved their heritage, demonstrated creative vitality, and built a modern society of pluralistic culture.
Education is the foundation of a nation's development. Since 1968, Taiwan has had a nine-year compulsory educational system aimed at fostering talent for the development of the country. In order to build a modern educational system, the government has actively pushed for educational reform in recent years, including improving popular education, diversifying and streamlining vocational education, upgrading higher education, and strengthening teacher education and training. Reforms are geared toward raising standards of school education through a diversified system, humanistic environment, technological facilities, life-oriented curricula and professional instructors. It is also a goal to create a lifelong learning environment for all the citizens by linking up formal education, informal education and outside educational resources.
With limited natural resources, Taiwan has managed to create a world-acclaimed "economic miracle" through the joined efforts of the government and its people during the past 50 or more years. At the initial stage of its economic development, Taiwan focused on agriculture. In 1963, industrial output began to exceed that of agriculture. This period has been generally referred to as Taiwan's "industrial era." By 1986, industrial production accounted for 47.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). However, during Taiwan's transformation from an agricultural-based to an industrial-based economy, the island encountered a number of socioeconomic problems. The principal issue was the surplus of labor no longer needed in rural areas. In response, the government took the initiative to develop foreign trade and establish export processing and industrial zones to absorb excess labor. These export industries were characterized by labor intensiveness, and foreign investment poured in to capitalize on Taiwan's cheap labor.
Beginning in the 1980s, the economy became increasingly open and free from earlier restrictive and protectionist tendencies. Changes in the industrial structure took place when labor-intensive industries were replaced by technology- and capital-intensive industries. In particular, the establishment of the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park played a pivotal role in this structural transformation. The electronics and information technology sectors expanded rapidly to become Taiwan's mainstream industries, accounting for more output and exports than any other sector in the manufacturing industry. Taiwan has been a world stronghold of electronics ever since, and the island has developed a knowledge-based economy. On January 1, 2002, after 10 years of effort by the government, Taiwan became a member of the World Trade Organization. Since then, Taiwan's economy has been fully plugged into the international economy and trade. Taiwan has also had to face new challenges in dealing with international competition.
Thanks to economic development, the government has been able to take a more active role in providing underprivileged groups with better care and protection. The Bureau of Child Welfare under the Ministry of the Interior was established to take charge of overall planning of child welfare. Services such as emergency rescue, housing and consultation are now available to abused women. Lower-income senior citizens are entitled to living allowances, and the government encourages the private sector to construct nursing homes for the elderly. The Welfare Law for the Handicapped and Disabled has been enacted to protect the legal rights of the physically and mentally handicapped and help them lead fuller lives. This includes securing opportunities for fair participation in social activities and providing a basis for implementing various assistance and welfare programs. In addition, the government has implemented the National Health Insurance (NHI) program with the goal of offering universal medical care to all citizens and building a harmonious and happy society.
Taiwan has long been known as the Ilha Formosa, meaning "beautiful island." To protect this natural beauty and the island's ecology, Taiwan has established six national parks and eleven national scenic resorts, which bring together unspoiled wilderness and recreational resources. In Taiwan, visitors can tour Taroko National Park's imposing mountains and gorges, or reach Mount Ali by rail, one of the world's three steep-gradient railways, to savor the magnificence of sunrise over a sea of clouds. Tourists can also climb Mount Jade, Northeast Asia's highest peak. Kenting in southern Taiwan offers spectacular coastal scenery and relaxing atmosphere. In central Taiwan, the picturesque and breathtaking Sun Moon Lake shimmers like a pearl in the mountains, while the scenery of the coast and valleys of eastern Taiwan is the island's most pristine. Compared with the other areas of Taiwan, the outlying island's of Kinmen and Matsu are unique, with rich local features and historic sites. All these features serve as a warm invitation to discover this beautiful island.