An Introduction To Taiwan

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The Beautiful Island Of Formosa

Originally named Formosa by the Portuguese, the island of Taiwan is a popular travel destination for both business travelers, tourists and students of Mandarin Chinese. Taiwan is notable for everything from its rapid development to its ancient culture. Although Taiwan is less than 14,000 square miles in area, it is home to over 22 million people. Modern Taiwan is defined by the exodus of mainland Chinese citizens to the island following the Communist revolution of China over 50 years ago. Although the government of Taiwan claims to be the legitimate government of mainland China, the world now recognizes the mainland government as the legitimate authority.

Political struggles aside, the island and people of Taiwan are worth visiting. Travelers who seek a contrast between traditional Asian culture and modern Asian development need look no farther than Taiwan to satisfy their traveling needs.

Those visitors who travel Taiwan should make sure not to miss the following:

Taipei

Taiwan’s largest city, known as Taipei, is a sprawling metropolis located on the northern end of the island that offers travelers with a first hand view of modern Asia and its economic boom. Only one hundred years ago Taipei was a valley full of rice and vegetable farmers, but today, travelers to Taiwan will witness a bustling city full of commerce and culture.  Taipei now boasts a modern metro transit network, the MRT, with convenient stops throughout the city as well as one of the tallest buildings in the world – Taipei 101.   While the pace may be frenetic, Taipei still offers some of Taiwan’s finest food and friendliest people. Top sites in Taipei include The Peace Park, a memorial to Chinese exiles from the mainland; the Longshan Temple, dedicated to the goddess of mercy; the National Palace Museum, which houses thousands of artistic treasures; and the Sun Yat Sen Memorial.

Easy day trips near Taipei include Yang Ming Shan mountain for hiking or hot springs in Wulai and Beitou.

Alishan

This mountain resort, located in the center of Taiwan is a wonderful contrast to fast-paced Taipei. The high elevation mountain air is cool and clean and will reinvigorate travelers. Once your blood starts moving, you will be energized and motivated to explore the beautiful mountains, bamboo forests and countryside.

Taiwan Eco-Tours

In an effort to preserve Taiwan’s natural habitat, the government has created numerous National Scenic Areas and National Parks. One of the best ways for students in Taiwan to experience these nature preserves is to arrange for an eco-tour. Tours are either single-day or multi-day and can include several scenic area or parks. Travelers can explore various eco-systems, including mountains, forests, wetlands and coastal areas.

Hot Springs

Due to its geology, Taiwan has a high concentration of natural hot springs. Since ancient times, the residents of Taiwan have believed that the island’s hot springs have rejuvenating characteristics. There is little doubt that hot springs offer a therapeutic remedy for many aches and ailments, so travelers to Taiwan should take advantage of the numerous hot springs located throughout the island.

Other Activities

Students can take a break from their Chinese studies by taking advantage of a wide variety of other activities in Taiwan as well. Water sports like snorkeling, surfing, sailing and canoeing are available; and land activities like hiking and mountain climbing are very popular also.  Better yet, why not take this chance to improve your Chinese speaking skills by inviting some of your new Taiwanese friends to go along with you?

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