Taiwan

Driving Directions Taiwan

TAIWAN was formerly known to the West by its Portuguese name of Formosa, “Beautiful Island.” It is the largest group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, about 161-kilo­meters or 100 miles off mainland China’s southeast coast, across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s independence, resulting from the island’s seizure by nationalists in 1949, is not entirely accepted internationally, and China lays claim to the territory. An additional 78 islands make up Taiwan province, including those called the Pescadores (“Fishermen’s Islands”) by the Portuguese but known as Penghu to the Chinese. Other islands, such as Quemoy (Jinmen) and Maju, lie closer to the coast of the main­land.

Driving Directions


Mountains dominate the island covering three-quarters of the land area, and absent only from western coastal regions. Most of the mountains are high, with more than 60 peaks attaining 3,040 meters or 10,000 feet. However, the highest of all is the Jade Mountain (Yu-Shan), which stands at 3,940 meters or 12,960 feet tall.

The mountain slopes are mostly covered with coniferous trees (cedar, pine, larch) at higher levels and broadleaved evergreen species (Chinese cork oak and camphor) at lower levels. Many wildlife is indigenous to Taiwan, but many species are confined to remote mountain regions where there is less disturbance from humans. Their number includes the Formosan black bear, Formosan sambar, sika and Chinese Muntjac deer, Formosan rock monkey, green turtle, Taipei tree turtle, Formosan salamander, black-faced spoonbill, and Formosan landlocked salmon.

The climate of the island is subtropical, with hot, wet summers and mild winters. About 20 million people, almost all Chinese, live in Taiwan, and the population density is high.

The capital and largest city are Taipei. Low-lying land in the West of Taiwan is fertile and heavily cultivated with various crops, including rice, sugar cane, tea, coffee, cashew nuts, sweet potatoes, bananas, pineapples, tobacco, cotton, sisal, and cloves. Forestry is carried out in Taiwan to supply a plywood industry, and numerous fish species are harvested from the surrounding seas, providing an important food source.

Taiwan’s relatively few resources include gas, marble, limestone, and small coal deposits. Taiwan is a major international trading nation based on its broad range of manufactured goods. It has some of the most successful export-processing zones globally, accommodating both domestic and overseas companies. Exports include “high tech” goods, machinery, electronics, textiles, footwear, toys, and sporting goods.

Google maps™ Taiwan

High, rugged mountains and foothills occupy about two-thirds of the island, extending from north to south from its northern tip to its southern extremity. On the eastern coast, most of the mountains drop precipitously to the Pacific Ocean. However, near the center of the coast, a narrow rift valley separates the central range from a lower but also steep coastal range. In the west, the high mountains descend to foothills that gradually give way to flat alluvial plains. The Pescadores Islands are relatively flat coral reefs that support some agriculture. The main island of the Quemoy group is rocky and boulder-strewn but still partially arable. Mat- Su consists of masses of igneous rocks.

Taiwan borders the Pacific Ocean to the east, the East China Sea to the north, and the South China Sea to the southeast.

Did you know about Taiwan?

Taipei’s stormy, humid climate has given rise to the saying “The weather in Taipei is like a stepmother’s temper.”

Click here for Taiwan Google maps, MapQuest & more detailed country facts.