Taiwan also known, especially in the past, as Formosa (from Portuguese: Ilha Formosa, "Beautiful Island"), is an island of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China (ROC) following the Chinese Civil War in 1950. The island of Taiwan has the largest population and therefore, the name "Taiwan" has also become the pars pro toto common name for the ROC itself.
Separated from the Asian continent by the 160 km (99 mi) wide Taiwan Strait,the main island of the group is 394 km (245 mi) long and 144 kilometres (89 mi) wide.To the northeast are the main islands of Japan and the East China Sea, and the southern end of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan is directly to the east; the Batanes Islands of the Philippines lie to its south across the Bashi Channel. The mountainous island spans the Tropic of Cancer and is covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation. Other minor islands and islets of the group include the Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Green Island, and Orchid Island, as well as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku islands), which have been controlled by Japan since the 1970s.
Taiwan was ceded to the Empire of Japan by the Qing Empire in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. In 1945 Taiwan was freed from Japan as a result of World War II. Four years later the ROC lost mainland China in the Chinese Civil War to the Communist Party of China and resettled its government to Taiwan. Taiwan composes the vast majority of the ROC's territory since 1950, and this is one of multiple reasons that the ROC is commonly known as "Taiwan". The political status of Taiwan is disputed because it is claimed by the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949 by the communists on mainland China and considers itself the successor state to the ROC. In fact, since PRC's establishment, it never controlled any of the territories the ROC government currently governs. Japan had originally acquired Taiwan from the Qing Empire in 1895 under Article 2 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. At the end of World War II, Japan renounced all claims to sovereignty over its former colonial possessions, including Taiwan and Penghu (Pescadores), but did not specify to whom Taiwan and Penghu should be assigned. This fact and subsequent handling of Taiwan's sovereignty by the Allies of World War II led to the complex and unresolved issues of the legal and political status of Taiwan.
Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II has transformed it into an industrialized developed country and one of the Four Asian Tigers. This economic rise is known as the Taiwan Miracle. It is categorized as an advanced economy by the IMF and as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwanese companies manufacture a large portion of the world's consumer electronics, although most of them are now made in their factories in mainland China.
Many people think of Taiwan as a grimy, densely populated industrial island full of hard disk factories, and you may well maintain this perception if you only stick to the densely populated West Coast. However, for those who take time to venture to the more sparsely populated East Coast will quickly find that Taiwan is actually home to some stunning landscapes. The Taroko Gorge near Hualien in particular is very impressive, and should not be missed. Most of Taiwan is covered with mountains which offer breathtaking views, so hiking opportunities are very diverse.
A three day outdoor rock concert in Kenting, held every year. In 2011, it will take place on 1-4 April. Tickets are $1,400 for all days, all venues; $650 for one day, one venue. Kenting's entire area gets swarmed by young people coming to party for 3 days, and Taiwanese TV heavily reports on the latest bikini fashions seen on the spot.
Colorful but simple ceremonies are held at Buddhist monasteries that generally consist of washing a statue of the Buddha and a vegetarian feast. It is appropriate to make offerings to the monks and nuns at this time, though it is not mandatory. Lunar Calender 8th day of 4th month.
Dragon Boat Festival
A festival to commemorate the death of the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (born 340 BC), who drowned himself in a river out of despair that his beloved country, Chu, was being plundered by a neighboring country as a result of betrayal by his own people. The festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month (19 June 2008), and is marked by races of colorful dragon boats at various locations throughout the island.
Cherry Blossom Season
Every spring, in Yangmingshan.
Taiwan's geographical location between an oceanic trench and volcanic system makes it an ideal hot springs vacation spot. There are several hot springs destinations throughout the country, including Wulai and Yangmingshan.
As in many Asian countries, night markets are a staple of Taiwanese entertainment, shopping and eating. Night markets are open-air markets, usually on a street or alleyway, with vendors selling all sorts of wares on every side. Many bargains can be had, and wherever prices are not displayed, haggling is expected. In the larger cities you will have a night market every night and in the same place. In smaller cities, they are only open certain nights of the week, and may move to different streets depending on the day of the week.
Every city has at least one night market; larger cities like Taipei may have a dozen or more. Night markets are crowded, so remember to watch out for your wallet! Shops selling the same items tend to congregate in the same part of the city. If you want to buy something, ask someone to take you to one shop and there will probably be shops selling similar things nearby.
For those who do not like the concept of haggling and fake goods, there are many shopping centres in Taipei where prices are usually fixed and goods are genuine. Otherwise, shopping streets in larger cities like Kaohsiung and Taichung can also easily get you what you want. And of course, there is the trendy Ximending in Taipei, where you can pretty much find anything associated with the youths, also at fixed prices.
Bargaining is OK and expected in night markets and small stores. Computer chain shops and department stores normally have fixed prices, but at least in department stores you may get a "registered member discount" if you're shopping a lot. Anyway it's always worth a try!
When bargaining at small stores, please note that the agreed prices are normally cash prices. If you like to use a credit card, the seller normally wants to add anything up to 8% to the price as a "card fee" etc. The fee consists actually of the credit company's commission and also the local sales tax/VAT. Even if you pay cash, you normally don't get an official receipt, as then the seller would have to report & pay their taxes in full. If you ask for a receipt or "fa piao", you will get it but you may need to pay 3-5% more.