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Just before flying to Taipei, I decided to Google facts about Taiwan. This is something I love doing before arriving in a new place.
Another thing I like to do is Google a quick overview of history. Who invaded, what type of rulers and government have they had, what are human rights like? Travelling with a moderate understanding really benefits me when it comes to understanding why things are how they are today.
Taiwan is such an interesting place. To understand Taiwan a little better and show the locals you’ve done your homework, check out these 10 facts about Taiwan…
1. Only 2.3% of the Taiwanese population is native
The other 97.7% are ethnically Chinese. This is because Taiwan was ruled by the Qing Dynasty for 200 years from 1683 to 1895. During this time, the locals were pushed out in the same way native Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders were by Europeans. This isn’t an upbeat Taiwan fact but it’s important to know.
Nowadays, there are just 500,000 indigenous people made up of eight different tribal groups. Sadly, their 26 native languages have become almost extinct. Unemployment rates are high and education levels low. However, since the 80s there has been a bit of a revival and several cities host indigenous cultural events. Will it be enough?
2. Taiwan is the size of Belgium but has 23 million residents
Belgium only has 11 million residents. This makes Taiwan densely populated… Especially when you consider 50% of the island is covered in forest and therefore uninhabited. In fact, 90% of the population lives along a strip of land along the east coast.
3. Taiwan made gay marriage legal in 2019
Now for a positive fact about Taiwan. Compared to its neighbouring countries like Japan, Korea and China where LGBT people face discrimination, Taiwan is forward-thinking and progressive.
4. Taiwan’s official title is the Republic of China (RoC)
The Republic of China (RoC) is not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Both parties fought during the Chinese Civil War which ended in 1949 and ignore each other’s sovereignty. Today the PRC controls mainland China and the RoC control Taiwan.
5. The national dish is stinky tofu
As facts about Taiwan go, I couldn’t stay off the topic of food for long. Food is of utmost importance to the Taiwanese and they’ll often say ‘have you eaten?’ rather than ‘how are you?. Stinky tofu is as smelly as it sounds.
6. In Taiwan, white symbolises death and is worn at funerals
Red is used at weddings. This may seem odd to Westerners but I’m not so sure: red is the colour of passion and love universally so why shouldn’t it be used at weddings?
7. Taiwan has been ruled by China, Japan and briefly Holland
During Japanese rule, Taiwan became the wealthy, modernised place it is today. There are plenty of places you can visit Japanese hill towns, tea houses and hot springs used by the colonial rulers. While these places are quaint and charming, historians tell us that the Japanese were cruel rulers and forced local women to be their concubines.
8. The National language of Taiwan is Mandarin
Luckily, lots of locals speak English so don’t fret if your Mandarin is less than fluent 😉
9. Many elements of Taiwanese life are influenced by Chinese culture
These include superstition relating to various numbers, reliance on Chinese medicine and the relatively low religion rates. Only 50% of the population is religious, most commonly following Buddhism and Taoism.
10. Taiwan’s Taipei 101 building was the tallest building in the world
This only lasted until 2007 when the Burj Khalifa was built.
These are the items that came with me to Taiwan and I would recommend using during your trip.
- Copy of Lonely Planet Taiwan
- A handy bumbag to keep your belongings secure
- Reusable coffee cup (collapsable) for hot takeaway drinks
- A reusable water bottle that you can fill up with filtered water (hotels in Taiwan will have these)
- Alternatively, a filtering water bottle that allows you to safely drink tap water
- Travel luggage – I use the Mountain Warehouse Traveller Backpack (60L with 20L detachable backpack)
- A camera – I use the Sony DSC-HX350 Digital Compact Bridge Camera which I think is one of the most affordable options for a camera with such a good zoom
- A GoPro if you’re into making videos – I use the HERO7 Black
- Solo travel pick: a tripod or mini GorillaPod to get yourself in the shot – I use the Manfrotto tripod and Joby GorillaPod
- A Taiwan SIM card or portable Wi-Fi device.
Thanks for reading my Taiwan facts!
Check out my other Taiwan blogs:
- 17 Taiwan travel tips
- Complete Taiwan budget guide & spending tips
- The 20 best Taiwanese foods
- 2 week Taiwan itinerary
- A complete guide to visiting Taipei
- Visiting the Rainbow Village, Taichung + the story behind it
- Visiting Yehliu Geopark from Taipei
- Day trip to Taroko National Park from Hualien
- Things to do in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s most vibrant city
- Things to do in Jiufen and Shifen
See you next time for more adventures,
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