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Taiwan Province Travel Guide

Geography: Taiwan is an island off the southeast coast of China's mainland. In addition to the main island of Taiwan, Taiwan comprises 15 islands in the Taiwan group and 64 islands in the Penghu (Pescadores) Archipelago. The total area of Taiwan, including the islands, is 35,981 sq km (13,892 square miles). Of the total, the Taiwan island group accounts for 13,843 square miles, while the Penghu Archipelago, located to the west of Taiwan, has an area of 49 square miles.

Map of Taiwan

Taiwan is bordered by the East China Sea to the north, by the Pacific Ocean to the east, by the Bashi Channel to the south, which separates it from the Philippines, and by the Taiwan Straits to the west, which separates it from the Chinese mainland. Taiwan forms part of the great island system rimming the western Pacific Ocean.

Since the Kuomintang government fled the mainland and ruled the island in 1949, the government of the People's Republic of China has claimed jurisdiction over Taiwan, in a solemn stance that the island is an inseparable part of China.

Climates: Taiwan straddles the tropical and subtropical zones and has warm summer and mild winter. The climate is moderated by the warm water of the Kuroshio Current. The summer is long, lasting from April until November (200 days or more). In cold months the mean monthly temperature is about 15°C. Beginning in April, the mean monthly temperature is above 20°C. The highest mean monthly temperature reaches 30°C from June to September. Lowland Taiwan is frost-free. The temperature fall with altitude, and in winter the central mountains are covered with snow.

Population: Except for the Gaoshan ethnic group, the aborigines of Taiwan, the inhabitants of Taiwan are the descendants of immigrants from the Chinese mainland. Settlement proceeded from the area around Tainan, in the south, northward and from the coast inland. From the latter Ming dynasty (early 17th century), until it was occupied by the Japanese in 1895, Tainan was the largest city and the capital of Taiwan.

The population is so predominantly Chinese, most of whom are the descendants of immigrants from the southeastern Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong; in addition, after the Kuomintang fled to the island in 1949, there was a sizable immigration from other parts of China.

Culture and Institution: Chinese culture is predominant. Fine arts and popular culture include Chinese painting, and Chinese music. Popular musical instruments include the fiddle and flute. Dances include court dances, aboriginal dances, and Chinese folk dances. Theatre includes traditional Chinese opera, Taiwanese operas, which use the southern Fujian dialect, and modern drama presented on the stage as well as over radio and television. Puppet shows are popular. Taiwan competes with Hong Kong in making Chinese motion pictures. Taiwanese handicrafts are prized for their beauty.

There are more than 30 daily newspapers, two of which are English language publications, and about 1,000 periodicals. There are about 30 radio broadcasting stations. The three television stations include the Taiwan Television Enterprises, the China Television Company and the Zhonghua Television Service.