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Tuesday 24th October
Taiwan Information - Page 1
Geography
The island of Taiwan lies close to the mainland of China on the Tropic of Cancer in the western Pacific Ocean. Over sixty other small islands (the Pescadores) of which twenty are inhabited also belong to Taiwan. The main island of Taiwan is three hundred and seventy-seven kilometres long and one hundred and forty-two kilometres wide.

The capital city of Taiwan is Taipei. Kaohsiung is the second largest city, the island's most important port and one of the biggest container ports in the world.

Taiwan is dominated by the Central Range of mountains which run north to south. The tallest peak is nearly four thousand metres high. Much of the island is forested. In the east the mountains reach close to the sea; in the west there is a fertile coastal plain.

The climate is subtropical in the north and tropical in the south. There are typhoons (tropical storms) in the summer. Snow falls in the mountains in winter.

Environment
Ten percent of the Taiwan has been declared conservation areas: national parks, nature reserves, natural forest preserves and wildlife refuges.

The island has sixty species of mammals. Wildlife includes deer, pigs, bears, the Taipei tree frog and the Formosan Salamander. The larger animals such as bear and deer have suffered greatly from disruption of their habitat.

Taiwan has over four hundred species of butterflies and four hundred and fifty species of birds.

Architecture
There are many pagodas and temples in Taiwan.

Chinese buildings are traditionally made from wood which is lacquered to add strength. Building on a platform helps prevent dampness seeping into the building. Traditional houses were U-shaped, a main building with two wings. Curved roofs characterize Chinese architecture.

Population
The population of Taiwan was estimated at 23,071,779 in 2011. The majority of the people are descended from emigrants from the Chinese provinces of Fukien and Kwangtung. Some are descended from those who came to Taiwan after 1949. The nine remaining aboriginal tribes are the Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Shao, Saisiyat, Tsou and Yami.

Languages
The official language is Mandarin. Taiwanese, a dialect of Fukien, is used by many of the population. Hakka dialects and indigenous languages are also spoken. English is widely used in business.

Religion
The Chinese traditional way of life is influenced by three systems of belief: the teachings of Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism.

There is a small number of Christians and other religious groups.

Food
Taiwanese cuisine is influenced by that of Fukien in southern China, the origin of most of the population. Seafood is a particular speciality of Taiwan.

All the regional types of Chinese food are available in Taiwan. As well as the southern Chinese (Cantonese and Szechwan) cuisine, northern Chinese (such as Peking and Shantung) food is available.

The subtropical climate ensures a ready supply of fruit. Tea is the main drink: black tea, green tea and oolong are the most popular varieties but there are many types of blends and flavours. Wine is made from plums as well as grapes.

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