Taiwanese Facts
Taiwanese Facts

66 Interesting Facts about Taiwan

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published December 4, 2017
  • If the population of Taiwan was just 100 people, 84 would be Taiwanese, 14 would be mainland Chinese, and 2 would be indigenous, or Formosan.[3]
  • Taiwan boasts the largest collection of Chinese art in the world.[3]
  • The name "Taiwan" is thought to mean "terraced bay," for the active terrace building that has taken place on the island.[1]
  • Before the Portuguese discovered Taiwan in 1590, the Chinese referred to the island as "a mudball across the sea, not worthy of China."[9]
  • Taiwan is located in the Ring of Fire, which makes the tiny island one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world. Taiwan experiences over 1,000 perceivable earthquakes a year and over 17,000 non-perceivable quakes.[9]
  • Taiwan Garbage
    In Taiwan, garbage trucks play music (similar to an American ice cream truck)
  • In Taiwan, people carry their own garbage out to the curb and throw it in the truck. The garbage trucks play Beethoven's Fur Elise to announce their arrival.[2]
  • Settled in 1590, T'ai-nan is the oldest city in Taiwan.[3]
  • One of the most popular activities in Taiwan is karaoke, or, as they call it, Karaoke Television (KTV). Karaoke clubs offer private rooms, music videos,and many families have their own karaoke system in their own homes.[3]
  • Taiwan has been dubbed the "face mask capital of Asia" because the Taiwanese often wear surgical face masks. They wear masks to protect from illness or announce an illness, to protect their skin from the sun, or to filter out pollutants. Even newscasters will wear face masks while they are on the air.[6]
  • The Taiwanese consider it rude to say "no." Instead they may say, "eh, maybe."[3]
  • Not only does Taiwan have more 7-Eleven stores per person than any other country in the world, but the 7-Elevens also offer much more than junk food, including dry-cleaning, a place to pay college tuition, and a place to print documents.[4]
  • In Taiwan, the number 4 (like the number 13 in America) is considered unlucky. Buildings such as hospitals and hotels don't have a 4th floor.[12]
  • In August (or the seventh month of the Taiwanese lunar calendar), Taiwan celebrates the Hungry Ghost Festival. According to tradition, the gates of hell open, releasing hordes of hungry ghosts that feed on money, food, etc. It is considered unlucky to get married, start a business, or travel during the entire month.[7]
  • Toilets cannot handle toilet paper in Taiwan. Signs next to the potty instruct people to place used tissue in the trash can instead.[7]
  • It rains almost every afternoon during the summer in Taiwan.[11]
  • The L.A. weather is a lot like Taiwan's, where you don't observe four seasons, so the years can pass and you don't feel a thing.

    - Ang Lee

  • In recorded history, the deadliest typhoon to hit Taiwan was Typhoon Morakot (Kiko), which decimated the island in 2009. The storm killed 673 people, left 26 missing, and caused $3.3 billion in damages.[1]
  • During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895–1945), in some disgruntled communities, a person who died was carried under a black umbrella to the graveyard so that the deceased person would not be buried under a Japanese sun.[1]
  • It takes about eight hours to drive around the entire island of Taiwan.[9]
  • Countries that wish to have diplomatic relations with China must sever their formal ties with Taiwan. China considers Taiwan its own renegade province. For this reason, Taiwan was kicked out of the UN in 1971.[1]
  • The World Happiness Report ranks Taiwan the 35th happiest country (out of 156) in the world. It ranks considerably higher than Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and China.[11]
  • In Taiwan, women make up 50.46% of the labor force and 33% of the legislature, a rate higher than Japan, South Korea, and the United States.[11]
  • Completed in 1882, the Eluanbi Lighthouse is one of the most well-known attractions in Taiwan. Dubbed the "Light of East Asia," the lighthouse is the only military lighthouse in the world and the brightest lighthouse in Taiwan.[11]
  • During the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, scientists speculate that Taiwan was connected to mainland China by a land bridge.[11]
  • The Portuguese "discovered" Taiwan in 1590 and named it "Ilha Formosa" or "Beautiful Island."[1]
  • Ilha Formosa
    Early Portuguese sailors named Taiwan Ilha Formosa, which means "beautiful island"

  • The highest mountain in Taiwan is Yu Shan (or Jade Mountain) in Yu Shan National Park.[11]
  • Pirates once used the natural harbors of Taiwan's Penghu Islands as hideout spots while attacking China. Today the islands are one of the world's major sources of coral.[11]
  • The political, cultural, and economic center of Taiwan, and its largest city, is Taipei, which means "north Taiwan" in Mandarin.[11]
  • One of the most important and tragic events in Taiwanese history is the "February 28 Incident." On this date in 1947, the KMT-led Republic of China government killed 10,000 civilians during an anti-government uprising. The incident sparked the Taiwan independence movement.[11]
  • The Formosan black bear is the largest land animal in Taiwan and is a symbol of the country. It is also the only type of bear in Taiwan.[11]
  • Taiwan has some of the worst air pollution in all of Asia, most likely because it is a small, densely occupied island.[11]
  • Despite losing its UN seat to China in 1971, and being unable to participate in the UN efforts to combat climate change, Taiwan attempts to combat the problem on its own. Although their CO2 levels fluctuate, Taiwan's overall levels are declining.[11]
  • Plum Blossom Facts
    Throughout Taiwan, images of plum blossoms appear on currency and company logos
  • The Prunus mei, or plum blossom, is Taiwan's national flower. Because it flowers in the winter, it symbolizes Taiwanese perseverance and courage.[3]
  • Taiwan has about half a million aborigines or yuan zhu min (YOO-an Ju min), meaning original people. Their ancestors are Austronesian, meaning they arrived from Easter Island, Madagascar, and New Zealand. Consisting of about 2% of the population, they tend to have darker skin, bigger eyes, and sharper noses.[11]
  • In Taiwan, white (instead of black) symbolizes death and is used at funerals. At weddings, red is a popular color because it symbolizes good luck.[11]
  • The single most important element in Taiwanese values and beliefs is Confucianism. Based on the teachings of Chinese teacher and philosopher, Confucius (551–479 BC), it focuses on maintaining harmony in the world.[11]
  • In Taiwan, the family is the most important unit of society. Children are taught that they must respect their parents and that their primary duty is to their family. Extended families often live together, so a single household may have as many as ten to fifty members.[11]
  • Taiwanese emphasize a unique cultural characteristic called ren qing wie, which, loosely translated, means "the flavor of human feeling." Friendliness and generosity to strangers, duty, and correct behavior are part of what it means to "smell or have the flavor of being human." To not have ren qing wie is to be inhuman or immoral.[11]
  • In Taiwan, it is traditional for an astrologer to determine whether a match between couples is a good one. The astrologer also chooses a favorable date and time for the wedding.[11]
  • In 1995, Taiwan launched the National Health Insurance program (NHI), which provides universal health care to all its citizens, in both Chinese and Western-style medicine. It is considered one of the best universal health care systems in the world.[11]
  • The most popular sports in Taiwan are baseball, basketball, and table tennis. Other traditional sports include jump rope, shuttlecock, and diabolo spinning (which is similar to the Western yo-yo).[11]
  • Instant noodles and bubble tea were invented in Taiwan.[3]
  • Taiwan Food Fact
    Instant noodle inventor Momofuku Ando was born in Taiwan

  • There is a "Flying Fish" festival in Taiwan in which a group of people, the Yami, commemorate the legend about talking fish that taught their tribe how to fish. The Yami men decorate their canoes and go fishing in ceremonial dress, silver caps, and jewelry.[11]
  • In Taiwan, the Saisiyat people celebrate the "Festival of the Little People." According to legend, the Saisiyat learned how to farm from a group of pygmies. After the Saisiyat killed all the pygmies during a fight, they held a festival to appease and exorcise the pygmy spirits.[11]
  • A traditional Taiwanese snack is oyster omelet and dried watermelon seeds.[11]
  • The official name of Taiwan is the "Republic of China," although the commonly used name is Taiwan.[11]
  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a futuristic and popular "UFO" village in the Wanli district of Taiwan. Most of the flying saucer houses have been abandoned, creating an eerie UFO graveyard.[14]
  • In Taiwan, those who were born between 1980 and 1991 are called the "Strawberry Generation," which is a disparaging way to describe them as soft, lazy, and "easily bruised."[5]
  • "Snake Alley" is a market in Taipei, Taiwan, that serves unique delicacies, such as snake blood, deer penis wine, and turtle blood and meat.[7]
  • Taiwan Flag Facts
    The twelve rays of the white sun represent the twelve months of the year and the twelve Chinese hours
  • The current flag of Taiwan was adopted on December 17, 1928, after the unification of China. Its colors—blue, white, and red—represent the Three Principals of the People of Taiwan: nationalism, democracy, and social well-being.[11]
  • Taiwan is also known as the "butterfly kingdom," because the tiny island is home to nearly 400 species of butterflies. While the country traditionally exported millions of its butterflies, now it focuses on conservation.[12]
  • The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin, but most people prefer to speak Taiwanese or Hakka.[3]
  • Taiwan is home to "The Modern Toilet" restaurant. All the food, utensils, dishes, and furniture are toilet themed.[8]
  • Taiwan was one of the first countries in the world to offer free Wi-Fi on a mass scale to its citizens. It also offers free Wi-Fi to foreign visitors.[10]
  • Taiwan was the first Asian democratic republic.[1]
  • Nearly half of Taiwan is mountainous.[11]
  • Puppetry is immensely popular in Taiwan, and puppets even play an important role in religious worship and folk festivals.[11]
  • Taiwan is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations.[11]
  • The term "Taiwan Miracle" refers to the island's transformation into one of the world's richest countries; a transformation that happened in less than 50 years.[3]
  • Taiwan's national sport is baseball, and it holds the most Little League World Series titles.[13]
  • At 216th place, Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea are even lower.[13]
  • Open Chan Fact
    In Taiwan, 7-Eleven is taken very seriously
  • In Taiwan, 7-Eleven has its own mascot named Open-Chan, a cartoon dog with a rainbow on its head. He is a national celebrity with his own music album and theme park.[11]
  • Taiwan has only one Nobel Prize winner, Yuan T. Lee. He won the prize for chemistry in 1986.[13]
  • The most internationally well-known Taiwanese celebrity is Oscar-winning director Ang Lee.[13]
  • The most popular surname in Taiwan is Chen, at around 12% of the population.[13]
  • Taiwanese are fond of chewing the betel nut. Unfortunately, because it is carcinogenic, Taiwan has one of the highest rates of mouth and throat cancer in Asia.[13]
  • With over 150 hot springs, Taiwan has the world's second-highest concentration of hot springs, after Japan.[13]
  • Top Ten Taiwan Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Taiwan Infographic
References

1Bisson, Michelle. Taiwan (Cultures of the World). Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2006.

2Chen, Kathy. "Taiwan: The World’s Geniuses of Garbage Disposal." Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2016. Accessed: October 29, 2017.

3Chen, Piera, and Dinah Gardner. Taiwan (Lonely Planet).  Singapore: Lonely Planet Global Limited, 2017.

4Dou, Eva, and Jenny W. Hsu. "How Convenient: In Taiwan, the 24/7 Store Does It All." Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2014. Accessed: October 29, 2017.

5Hu, Elise. "Taiwan's 'Strawberry Generation' Reaches Out To The Young And Trendy." NPR: Parallels. December 8, 2015. Accessed: October 30, 2017.

6Jennings, Ralph. "Asia's Face Mask Capital." Forbes, September 13, 2011. Accessed: October 29, 2017.

7"Keelung Events: Keelung Ghost Festival." Lonely Planet. Accessed: October 29, 2017.

8Mitchell, Simone. "Holy Crap, There’s a Toilet Themed Restaurant." News.com.au. September 22, 2016. Accessed: October 30, 2017.

9Salter, Christopher, and Charles F. Gritzner. Taiwan. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.

10Skift, Rafat Ali. "Taiwan Offers Free Wi-Fi to all Foreign Tourists." CNN: Travel. June 13, 2013. Accessed: October 30, 2017.

11Taiwan (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Cavendish Square Publishing, Inc., 2017.

12"Taiwanese Superstitions." Geotraveler's Adventures. November 7, 2009. Accessed: October 29, 2017.

13The Rough Guide to Taiwan.

14Williams, Sophie. "Taiwan's Ghost 'UFO Village': Eerie Pictures Show the Surreal Community Where People Lived in Spaceship-Like Pods Before it was Abandoned in the 1970s." Daily Mail. August 9, 2017. Accessed: October 30, 2017.

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