Taiwan is an island off the coast of southeastern China. A mix of history, cultures, nature, delicious food, and the amenities of a modern city, is what makes Taiwan so unique. Below, we collected 10 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Taiwan.
1. Taiwan is also called Ilha Formosa, “Beautiful Island” in Portuguese.
With mountains covering about two-thirds of the surface of the island, Taiwan has a breathtakingly unspoiled scenery.
2. Taiwan has been claimed by different nations over the years.
The contrasts between Chinese and Japanese colonial times, paired with the culture of the indigenous people of Taiwan, and recent European and American influences results in a diverse and unique cultural mix.
3. Taiwan is the size of Belgium but has double the number of residents.
Despite its low birth rate of 8.2births/1,000 population, Taiwan has a population of 23.8 million (Belgium:11.5 million). Considering that 90% of the island is covered in forest and therefore uninhabited, Taiwan is among the most densely populated countries.
4. Aboriginal peoples, the island’s original inhabitants today constitute only about 2% of Taiwan’s total population.
The population of Taiwan is composed of four (sub-)ethnic groups, including aboriginals, the Fukien Taiwanese, the Hakka Taiwanese, and the Chinese who came from mainland China beginning in the mid-1940s.
Taiwan’s indigenous tribes were present on the island for more than 10,000 years, but are now a minority. Each of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes - officially there are 16 - has its own distinct language. Sadly, several are on the verge of extinction, as many young aborigines can’t speak more than a few words of their ancestral language.
5. Mandarin, Formosan languages, Taiwanese Hokkien, and Hakka are its national languages.
Before the 1950s most of Taiwan’s people spoke Taiwanese (Hoklo, Hokkienese or Minnanhua). Later, Taiwan’s education system emphasized Mandarin, and students who spoke Taiwanese in the classroom were punished. Also, many parents decided to speak Mandarin rather than Taiwanese to their children. Nevertheless, Mandarin speakers are usually able to distinguish mainlanders from Taiwanese by their accent and their expressions.
In terms of writing, the traditional long form of Chinese characters is used, while the simpler “short-form” characters are used in mainland China. Some elderly Taiwanese also speak Japanese because they attended school during the Japanese occupation.
6. Taiwan is the first Asian nation to make same-sex marriage legal.
Same-sex marriage in Taiwan became legal on 24 May 2019, making Taiwan the first nation in Asia to allow same-sex marriages. Compared to its neighboring countries where LGBT people still face discrimination, Taiwan is forward-thinking.
7. Taiwan 101 has set new records.
Besides being the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2007, Taiwan 101 also has one of the fastest elevators in the world. With a maximum speed of 1,010 m/min (60.6 km/h), the elevator takes you up to the observation deck on the 89th floor in only 37 seconds.
Also interesting: Since Taiwan is often hit by typhoons and earthquakes, engineers have come up with the idea to install a huge pendulum to minimize vibrations and withstand the tremors.
8. Taiwan is known for its night markets and Taiwan’s cuisine is considered to be one of the best in the world.
Eating is a central part of the culture, and people in Taiwan are proud of their cuisine. Even late at night, night markets in Taiwan are packed with visitors ready to eat some of the best local dishes like Beef Noodle Soup, Oyster Pancakes, Wontons, Shaved Ice, Boba, and Stinky Tofu. Night markets also offer fun games for kids and shopping opportunities for inexpensive clothes and gadgets.
9. Taiwan has one of the world’s highest density of convenience stores.
You will find yourself running into a lot of convenience stores on the streets of Taiwan. The most popular ones are 7-11, Family Mart, High-Life and OK Mart. These stores are open 24/7 and offer food, snacks, drinks, and daily necessities. Besides that, you are also able to get your bus or train tickets there.
10. You can take away your trash to the tune of Beethoven’s “Für Elise.”
In Taiwan, garbage trucks play music to indicate their arrival in the streets and people would run onto the streets to toss the garbage into the garbage truck.
Extra: In Taiwan, the numerical code at the top of receipts is a lottery number and you can win up to NT$ 2,000,000 (around €60,000). So keep your receipts when you visit Taiwan!
The Taiwan Receipt Lottery, known as 統一發票中獎號碼 (Tǒngyī Fāpiào), is a bi-monthly receipt invoice lottery run by the government. It was created to encourage legal tax reporting by giving consumers an incentive to demand receipts with every purchase so merchants record their income in the books and legally report sales taxes.
An island full of historical heritage and an exotic cultural mix, Taiwan never fails to disappoint the visitors, both international and local.