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Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country located in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
. The main island of Taiwan, known historically in Portuguese and English as Formosa, makes up 99% of the area controlled by the Republic of China, measuring and lying some across the
Taiwan Strait The Taiwan Strait is a -wide strait separating the Taiwan (island), island of Taiwan and mainland, continental Asia. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest part is wide. Names ...

Taiwan Strait
from the southeastern coast of
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

mainland China
. The
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% o ...

East China Sea
lies to the north of the island, the
Philippine Sea The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean east of the Philippine archipelago (hence the name), occupying an estimated surface area of . The Philippine Sea Plate forms the floor of the sea. Its western border is the firs ...
to its east, the
Luzon Strait The Luzon Strait (Tagalog: ''Kipot ng Luzon'', ) is the strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on bo ...
directly to its south and the
South China Sea The South China Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97 ...

South China Sea
to its southwest. The ROC also controls a number of smaller islands: some in the Taiwan Strait (including the
Penghu The Penghu (Hokkien Pe̍h-ōe-jī, POJ: ''Phîⁿ-ô͘''  or ''Phêⁿ-ô͘'' ) or Pescadores Islands are an archipelago of 90 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait. The largest city is Magong, located on the largest island, which i ...

Penghu
archipelago and the
Kinmen Kinmen, English exonyms#Taiwan, alternatively known as Quemoy, is a group of islands governed as a County (Taiwan), county by the Republic of China (ROC) based in Taiwan, off the southeastern coast of mainland China. It lies roughly east of the ...

Kinmen
and
Matsu Islands The Matsu Islands (; Foochow Romanized Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; ) or Hók-ciŭ-uâ Lò̤-mā-cê (), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originall ...
near the Chinese mainland coast), and some of the
South China Sea Islands The South China Sea Islands consist of over 250 island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe image:Small_Island_in_Lowe ...

South China Sea Islands
. Geologically, the main island comprises a tilted
fault block Fault blocks are very large blocks of rock, sometimes hundreds of kilometres in extent, created by tectonic Tectonics (; ) are the processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time. The ...
, characterized by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds, consisting mostly of five rugged mountain ranges running parallel to the east coast, and the flat to gently rolling plains of the western third, where the majority of Taiwan's population resides. Several peaks exceed 3,500 m in height - the highest,
Yu Shan Yu Shan or Yushan, also known as Mount Jade, Jade Mountain, or , and known as Mount Niitaka during Japanese rule, is the highest mountain on Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbour ...
at , makes Taiwan the world's fourth-highest island. The
tectonic Tectonics (; ) are the processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time. These include the processes of mountain building A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, gen ...
boundary that formed these ranges remains active, and the island experiences many earthquakes, a few of them highly destructive. There are also many active
submarine volcano Submarine volcanoes are underwater vents or fissures in the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and ...
es in the Taiwan Straits. The climate ranges from tropical in the south to subtropical in the north, and is governed by the East Asian Monsoon. On average, four
typhoon A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm, storm system characterized by a Low-pressure area, low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, Beaufort scale, strong winds, and ...

typhoon
s strike the main island each year. The heavily forested eastern mountains provide a habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, while human
land use Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment The natural environment or natural world encompasses all life, living and non-living things occurring nature, naturally, meaning in this case not Artificiality, artifi ...
in the western and northern lowlands is intensive.


Physical boundaries

The total land area of Taiwan is , making it intermediate in size between
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
and the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
. It has a coastline of . The ROC claims an exclusive economic zone of with and a territorial sea of . Taiwan proper, the main island of the archipelago, was known in the West until after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
as ''Formosa'', from the
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
''Ilha Formosa'' (), "beautiful island". It is long and wide, and has an area of . The northernmost point of the island is
Cape Fugui Cape Fugui, Cape Fukwei, Fukwei Chiao, Fuguei Cape, or . is the northernmost point on Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China ...
in
New Taipei New Taipei City (known as Taipei County until 2010) is a special municipality in Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's ...
's
Shimen District Shimen District (), also known as Sekimon, is a sparsely populated rural district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly ...
. The central point of the island is in Puli Township,
Nantou County Nantou County (; Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Standard Chinese, Mandarin pro ...
. The southernmost point on the island is
Cape Eluanbi Cape Eluanbi or Oluanpi, also known by other names, is the southernmost point on Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China ( ...
in Hengchun Township,
Pingtung County Pingtung County is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William ...
. The island of Taiwan is separated from the southeast coast of
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
by the
Taiwan Strait The Taiwan Strait is a -wide strait separating the Taiwan (island), island of Taiwan and mainland, continental Asia. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest part is wide. Names ...

Taiwan Strait
, which ranges from at its widest point to at its narrowest. Part of the continental shelf, the Strait is no more than deep, and has become a land bridge during
glacial period A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the ...
s. To the south, the island of Taiwan is separated from the
Philippine The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republik ...

Philippine
island of
Luzon Luzon (; ) is the largest and most populous List of islands in the Philippines, island in the Philippines. It is ranked List of islands by area, 15th largest in the world by land area. Located in the northern portion of the archipelago, it is the ...
by the -wide
Luzon Strait The Luzon Strait (Tagalog: ''Kipot ng Luzon'', ) is the strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on bo ...
. The
South China Sea The South China Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97 ...

South China Sea
lies to the southwest, the
East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% o ...

East China Sea
to the north, and the
Philippine Sea The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea of the Western Pacific Ocean east of the Philippine archipelago (hence the name), occupying an estimated surface area of . The Philippine Sea Plate forms the floor of the sea. Its western border is the firs ...
to the east.
Niushan Island Niushan Island, also known as Niushan Dao,, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Niushandao, Kiushan Tao or , is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically diffe ...
in Nanlai village, Aoqian town, Pingtan County, Fuzhou, Fujian is the closest China (PRC)-administered island to Taiwan (main island). Smaller islands of the archipelago include the
Penghu islands The Penghu (Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Standard Chinese, Mandarin pronun ...

Penghu islands
in the Taiwan Strait west of the main island, with an area of , the tiny islet of Xiaoliuqiu off the southwest coast, and
Orchid Island Orchid Island, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 horr ...
and
Green IslandGreen Island or Greene Island can refer to: Places Africa * Green Island (Egypt), in the Gulf of Suez * Green Island (Eritrea), in the Red Sea (Gulf of Zula) Antarctica * Green Island (Berthelot Islands) Asia * Green Island, Hong Kong * Green Isl ...
to the southeast, separated from the northernmost islands of the Philippines by the
Bashi Channel Bashi is the northern channel of Luzon Strait The Bashi Channel is a waterway between Y'Ami Island of the Philippines and Orchid Island of Taiwan. It is a part of the Luzon Strait in the Pacific Ocean. It is characterized by windy storms during the ...
. The islands of
Kinmen Kinmen, English exonyms#Taiwan, alternatively known as Quemoy, is a group of islands governed as a County (Taiwan), county by the Republic of China (ROC) based in Taiwan, off the southeastern coast of mainland China. It lies roughly east of the ...

Kinmen
and Matsu near the coast of
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
across the
Taiwan Strait The Taiwan Strait is a -wide strait separating the Taiwan (island), island of Taiwan and mainland, continental Asia. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest part is wide. Names ...

Taiwan Strait
have a total area of ; the
Pratas Pratas Island, United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is an island in the northern part of the South China Sea The South China Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea o ...
and Taiping islets in the South China Sea are also administered by the ROC, but are not part of the Taiwanese archipelago.


Geology

The island of Taiwan was formed approximately 4 to 5 million years ago at a complex
convergent boundary A convergent boundary (also known as a destructive boundary) is an area on Earth where two or more lithospheric plates collide. One plate eventually slides beneath the other, a process known as subduction Subduction is a geological process in ...
between the
Philippine Sea Plate The Philippine Sea Plate or the Philippine Plate is a tectonic plate comprising oceanic lithosphere that lies beneath the Philippine Sea, to the east of the Philippines. Most segments of the Philippines, including northern Luzon, are part of the ...

Philippine Sea Plate
and the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around thick and consist ...
. In a boundary running the length of the island and continuing southwards in the
Luzon Volcanic ArcImage:Smith Volcano 1.jpg, Smith Volcano in the Babuyan Islands The Luzon Volcanic Arc is a volcanic arc, chain of volcanoes in a north–south line across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan to Luzon. The name "Luzon Volcanic Arc" was first proposed by Car ...
(including
Green IslandGreen Island or Greene Island can refer to: Places Africa * Green Island (Egypt), in the Gulf of Suez * Green Island (Eritrea), in the Red Sea (Gulf of Zula) Antarctica * Green Island (Berthelot Islands) Asia * Green Island, Hong Kong * Green Isl ...
and
Orchid Island Orchid Island, also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon novel), a 1971 horr ...
), the Eurasian Plate is sliding under the Philippine Sea Plate. Most of the island comprises a huge
fault block Fault blocks are very large blocks of rock, sometimes hundreds of kilometres in extent, created by tectonic Tectonics (; ) are the processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time. The ...
tilted to the west. The western part of the island, and much of the central range, consists of sedimentary deposits scraped from the descending edge of the Eurasian Plate. In the northeast of the island, and continuing eastwards in the
Ryukyu The , also known as the or the , are a chain of Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and ...

Ryukyu
Volcanic Arc, the Philippine Sea Plate slides under the Eurasian Plate. The tectonic boundary remains active, and Taiwan experiences 15,000 to 18,000 earthquakes each year, of which 800 to 1,000 are noticed by people. The most catastrophic recent earthquake was the magnitude-7.3
Chi-Chi earthquake The Chi-Chi earthquake (later also known as the Jiji earthquake) (), also known as the great earthquake of September 21 (), was a 7.3  ML or 7.7  Mw earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaki ...
, which occurred in the center of Taiwan on 21 September 1999, killing more than 2,400 people. On 4 March 2010 at about 01:20 UTC, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit southwestern Taiwan in the mountainous area of
Kaohsiung County Kaohsiung County was a County (Taiwan), county in southern Taiwan between 1945 and 2010. The county seat was located in Fengshan District, Fongshan City. History Kaohsiung County was established on 6 December 1945 on the territory of Takao Prefe ...

Kaohsiung County
. Another major earthquake occurred on 6 February 2016, with a magnitude of 6.4. Tainan was damaged the most, with 117 deaths, most of them caused by the collapse of a 17-story apartment building.


Terrain

The terrain in Taiwan is divided into two parts: the flat to gently rolling plains in the west, where 90% of the population lives, and the mostly rugged forest-covered mountains in the eastern two-thirds. The eastern part of the island is dominated by five mountain ranges, each running from north-northeast to south-southwest, roughly parallel to the east coast of the island. As a group, they extend from north to south and average about from east to west. They include more than two hundred peaks with elevations of over . The
Central Mountain Range The Central Mountain Range is the principal mountain range on Taiwan Island , t2 = , s2 = , l2 = beautiful island , bpmf2 = ㄈㄨˊ ㄦˇ ㄇㄛˊ ㄕㄚ , w2 = Fu²-êr³-mo²-sha¹ , p2 = Fúĕrmóshā , tp2 = Fúĕrmósha , mps2 = Fú ...
extends from
Su'ao Su'ao Township (), alternately romanized as Su-ao, is located in southern Yilan County, Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of Ch ...
in the northeast to
Eluanbi
Eluanbi
at the southern tip of the island, forming a ridge of high mountains and serving as the island's principal watershed. The mountains are predominantly composed of hard rock formations resistant to weathering and erosion, although heavy rainfall has deeply scarred the sides with gorges and sharp valleys. The relative relief of the terrain is usually extensive, and the forest-clad mountains with their extreme ruggedness are almost impenetrable. The east side of the Central Mountain Range is the steepest mountain slope in Taiwan, with fault scarps ranging in height from .
Taroko National Park Taroko National Park () is one of the List of national parks in Taiwan, nine national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park carved by the Liwu River. The park spans Taichung, Taichung Municipality, Nant ...
, on the steep eastern side of the range, has good examples of mountainous terrain, gorges and
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
caused by a swiftly flowing river. The East Coast Mountain Range extends down the east coast of the island from the mouth of the
Hualien River The Hualian River, also spelled Hualien River, () is a river in Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most popul ...
in the north to
Taitung County Taitung County (; Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and c ...

Taitung County
in the south, and chiefly consist of sandstone and shale. It is separated from the Central Range by the narrow
Huatung Valley The Huadong Valley or Hualien–Taitung Valley (), also known as East Rift Valley or the Longitudinal Valley, is a long and narrow valley located between the Central Mountain Range and the Hai'an Range, Coastal Mountain Range. It is also recognize ...

Huatung Valley
, at an altitude of . Although Hsinkangshan (新港山), the highest peak, reaches an elevation of , most of the range is composed of large hills. Small streams have developed on the flanks, but only one large river cuts across the range. Badlands are located at the western foot of the range, where the ground water level is the lowest and rock formations are the least resistant to weathering. Raised coral reefs along the east coast and the frequent occurrences of earthquakes in the rift valley indicate that the fault block is still rising. The ranges to the west of the Central range are divided into two groups separated by the
Sun Moon Lake Sun Moon Lake (; Thao: ''Zintun'') is a lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land, apart from any river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an oce ...

Sun Moon Lake
Basin in the centre of the island. The Dadu and
Zhuoshui River The Zhuoshui River, also spelled Choshui or Jhuoshuei River, () is the longest river in Taiwan. It flows from its source in Nantou County up to the western border of the county, subsequently forming the border between Yunlin County and Changhua ...
s flow from the western slopes of the Central Range through the basin to the west coast of the island. The
Xueshan Range Xueshan, formerly known as and by other names, is a mountain in the Heping District of Taichung Taichung (, Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It ...
lies to the northwest of the Central Mountain Range, beginning at
Sandiaojiao Cape Santiago is a cape located in Gongliao District, New Taipei, Taiwan. Geography The cape is the easternmost point of the island of Taiwan, and also the easternmost cape of Taiwan. History On 5 May 1626, a Spanish expedition to Formosa, Spa ...
, the northeast tip of the island, and gaining elevation as it extends southwest towards
Nantou County Nantou County (; Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Standard Chinese, Mandarin pro ...
.
Xueshan Xueshan, formerly known as and by other names, is a mountain in the Heping District of Taichung Taichung (, Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It ...
, the main peak, is high. The
Yushan Range The Yushan Range, formerly the and also known as the JadeMountain Range, is a mountain range in the central-southern region of Taiwan Island. It spans Chiayi County, Kaohsiung City, and Nantou County. It faces the Central Mountain Range on the e ...
runs along the southwestern flank of the Central Range. It includes the island's tallest peak, the
Yu Shan Yu Shan or Yushan, also known as Mount Jade, Jade Mountain, or , and known as Mount Niitaka during Japanese rule, is the highest mountain on Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbour ...
('Jade Mountain') which makes Taiwan the world's fourth-highest island, and is the highest point in the western Pacific region outside of the
Kamchatka Peninsula The Kamchatka Peninsula (, ''Poluostrov Kamchatka'', ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other pla ...

Kamchatka Peninsula
,
New Guinea Highlands The New Guinea Highlands, also known as the Central Range or Central Cordillera, is a long chain of mountain ranges on the island of New Guinea, including the island's tallest peak, Puncak Jaya , the highest mountain in Oceania. The range is home t ...
and
Mount Kinabalu Mount Kinabalu ( ms, Gunung Kinabalu, Dusun: ''Gayo Ngaran or Nulu Nabalu'') is the highest mountain in Borneo Borneo (; id, Kalimantan) is the third-List of islands by area, largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the ...

Mount Kinabalu
. The
Alishan Range The Alishan Range () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignm ...
lies west of the Yushan Range, across the valley of the south-flowing Kaoping River. The range has major elevations between . The main peak, Data Mountain (大塔山), towers . Below the western foothills of the ranges, such as the Hsinchu Hills and the Miaoli Hills, lie raised
terrace Terrace may refer to: Landforms and construction * Fluvial terrace, a natural, flat surface that borders and lies above the floodplain of a stream or river * Terrace, a street suffix * Terrace (earthworks), a leveled surface built into the landsc ...
s formed of material eroded from the ranges. These include the Linkou Plateau, the Taoyuan Plateau and the
Dadu Plateau The Dadu Plateau (), also known as Dadu Mountain or Dadushan (), is a plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with th ...
. About 23% of Taiwan's land area consists of fertile alluvial plains and basins watered by rivers running from the eastern mountains. Over half of this land lies in the
Chianan PlainChianan or Jianan may refer to: Taiwan * Chianan Plain, largest plain in Taiwan * Chianan Irrigation, canals of Chianan Plain of Taiwan Han Dynasty *Jian'an, name for the period of rule (196—220) of the Emperor Xian of Han *Seven Scholars of Jian ...
in southwest Taiwan, with lesser areas in the
Pingtung Plain Pingtung Plain () is a plain In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Sou ...

Pingtung Plain
,
Taichung Basin The riverbed of Caohu River in Taichung Basin. The Taichung Basin () is located in the central region of western Taiwan. It occupies some parts of Taichung City, Nantou County and Changhua County. The basin borders the Choshui River in the south; ...
and
Taipei Basin Taipei is the bright blue and red area in the lower center of the image. A portion of the city sits on an island surrounded by the Keelung River and Tamsui River. Space Radar Map by NASA">Tamsui_River.html" ;"title="Keelung River and Tamsui Rive ...
. The only sizable plain on the east coast is the
Yilan Plain Yilan Plain (), also called the Lanyang Plain (), or historically Kabalan (), Kapsulan (), Komalan () is a plain In geography, a plain is a flat expanse of land that generally does not change much in elevation. Plains occur as lowlands along va ...
in the northeast.


Climate

The island of Taiwan lies across the
Tropic of Cancer The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted ...

Tropic of Cancer
, and its climate is influenced by the East Asian Monsoon. Northern Taiwan has a
humid subtropical climate A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitude In geography Geograp ...
, with substantial seasonal variation of temperatures, while parts of central and most of southern Taiwan have a
tropical monsoon climate An area of tropical monsoon climate (occasionally known as a tropical wet climate or a tropical monsoon and trade-wind littoral climate) is a type of climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmos ...
where seasonal temperature variations are less noticeable, with temperatures typically varying from warm to hot. During the winter (November to March), the northeast experiences steady rain, while the central and southern parts of the island are mostly sunny. The summer monsoon (from May to October) accounts for 90% of the annual precipitation in the south, but only 60% in the north. The average rainfall is approximately 2,600 mm per year.
Typhoon A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm, storm system characterized by a Low-pressure area, low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, Beaufort scale, strong winds, and ...

Typhoon
s are most likely to strike between July and October, with on average about four direct hits per year. Intensive rain from typhoons often leads to disastrous mudslides.


Records


Flora and fauna

Before extensive human settlement, the vegetation on Taiwan ranged from
tropical rainforest Tropical rainforests are rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape ...

tropical rainforest
in the lowlands through
temperate forest A temperate forest is a forest found between the tropical The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropic of Capricorn in ...
s,
boreal forest Taiga (; rus, тайга́, p=tɐjˈɡa; relates to Mongolic languages, Mongolic and Turkic languages, Turkic languages), generally referred to in North America as a boreal forest or snow forest, is a biome characterized by pinophyta, conifero ...
and
alpine plant Alpine plants are plants that grow in an alpine climate, which occurs at high elevation and above the tree line. There are many different plant species and taxon that grow as a plant community in these alpine tundra. These include perennial grasses, ...
s with increasing altitude. Most of the plains and low-lying hills of the west and north of the island have been cleared for agricultural use since the arrival of the
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
immigrants during the 17th and 18th century. However the mountain forests are very diverse, with several
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
species such as
Formosan cypress
Formosan cypress
(''Chamaecyparis formosensis'') and Taiwan fir (''Abies kawakamii''), while the camphor laurel (''
Cinnamomum camphora ''Cinnamomum camphora'' is a species of evergreen tree that is commonly known under the names camphor tree, camphorwood or camphor laurel. Description ''Cinnamomum camphora'' is native to China south of the Yangtze River, Taiwan, southern Jap ...

Cinnamomum camphora
'') was once also widespread at lower altitudes. Taiwan is a center of bird
endemism Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
(see List of endemic birds of Taiwan). Prior to the country's
industrialization Industrialisation ( alternatively spelled industrialization) is the period of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society An agrarian society, or agricultural society, is any community whose economy is b ...
, the mountainous areas held several endemic animal species and subspecies, such as the Swinhoe's pheasant (''Lophura swinhoii''),
Taiwan blue magpie The Taiwan blue magpie (''Urocissa caerulea''), also called the Taiwan magpie, Formosan blue magpie (), or the "long-tailed mountain lady" (; Taiwanese Hokkien Taiwanese, also known as Taigi,, Taiwanese Minnan, Holo, Taiwanese Hokkien (), is a ...
(''Urocissa caerulea''), the
Formosan sika deer The Formosan sika deer, (), is a subspecies of sika deer endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a u ...

Formosan sika deer
(''Cervus nippon taiwanensis'' or ''Cervus nippon taiouanus'') and the Formosan landlocked salmon (''Oncorhynchus masou formosanus''). A few of these are now
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinct
, and many others have been designated
endangered species An endangered species is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group ...
. Taiwan had relatively few
carnivores A carnivore , meaning "meat Meat is animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume orga ...
, 11 species in total, of which the
Formosan clouded leopard The Formosan clouded leopard is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bi ...
is likely extinct and the
otter Otters are carnivorous mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mam ...

otter
restricted to
Kinmen island Kinmen, also called Quemoy, is a county of the Republic of China located in the Taiwan Strait between the island of Taiwan and mainland China. The main island of Kinmen County is Kinmen Island., National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, United Sta ...

Kinmen island
. The largest carnivore is the
Formosan black bear The Formosan black bear (臺灣黑熊, ''Ursus thibetanus formosanus''), also known as the Taiwanese black bear or white-throated bear, is a subspecies of the Asiatic black bear. It was Species description, first described by Robert Swinhoe in 186 ...
(''Selanarctos thibetanus formosanus''), a rare and endangered species. Nine national parks in Taiwan showcase the diverse terrain, flora and fauna of the archipelago.
Kenting National Park Kenting National Park (), commonly known as Kenting (), is a national park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi ...

Kenting National Park
on the southern tip of Taiwan contains uplifted
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient c ...

coral reef
s, moist tropical forest and marine ecosystems.
Yushan National Park Yushan National Park () is one of the List of national parks in Taiwan, nine national parks in Taiwan and was named after the summit Yushan (mountain), Yushan, the highest peak of the park.
has alpine terrain, mountain ecology, forest types that vary with altitude, and remains of ancient road.
Yangmingshan Yangmingshan National Park is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan, located between Taipei and New Taipei City. The districts that house parts of the park grounds include Taipei's Beitou District, Beitou and Shilin District, Shilin Distri ...

Yangmingshan
National Park has volcanic geology, hot springs, waterfalls, and forest.
Taroko National Park Taroko National Park () is one of the List of national parks in Taiwan, nine national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park carved by the Liwu River. The park spans Taichung, Taichung Municipality, Nant ...
has marble canyon, cliff, and fold mountains. Shei-Pa National Park has alpine ecosystems, geological terrain, and valley streams.
Kinmen National Park The Kinmen National Park () is a national park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land t ...
has lakes, wetlands, coastal topography, flora and fauna-shaped island. Dongsha Atoll National Park has the Pratas reef atolls for integrity, a unique marine ecology, biodiversity, and is a key habitat for the marine resources of the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.


Natural resources

Natural resources on the islands include small deposits of gold, copper, coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos. The island is 55% forest and woodland (mostly on the mountains) and 24% arable land (mostly on the plains), with 15% going to other purposes. 5% is permanent pasture and 1% is permanent crops. Because of the intensive exploitation of natural resources, exploitation throughout History of Taiwan, Taiwan's pre-modern and modern history, the island's mineral resources (e.g. coal, gold, marble), as well as wild animal reserves (e.g. deer), have been virtually exhausted. Moreover, much of its forestry resources, especially Abies kawakamii, firs were harvested during Taiwan under Japanese rule, Japanese rule for the construction of Shinto shrine, shrines and have only recovered slightly since then. To this day, forests do not contribute to significant timber production mainly because of concerns about production costs and environmental regulations.


Agriculture

The few natural resources with significant economic value remaining in Taiwan are essentially agriculture-associated. Sugarcane and rice have been cultivated in western Taiwan since the 17th century. Camphor extraction and sugar refining played an important role in Taiwan's exports from the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century. The importance of these industries subsequently declined mainly due to the reduction of international demand rather than exhaustion of related natural resources. Domestic agriculture (rice being the dominant kind of crop) and fisheries retain some importance, but they have been greatly challenged by foreign imports since Taiwan's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2002. Consequently, upon the decline of subsistence, Taiwan's agriculture now relies heavily on the marketing and export of specialty crops, such as bananas, guavas, lychees, bell fruits, and high-mountain tea.


Energy resources

Taiwan has significant coal deposits and some insignificant petroleum and natural gas deposits. , Petroleum, oil accounts for 49.0% of the total energy consumption. Coal comes next with 32.1%, followed by nuclear power, nuclear energy with 8.3%, natural gas (indigenous and liquefied) with 10.2%, and energy from renewable sources with 0.5%. Taiwan has List of nuclear reactors#Taiwan, six nuclear reactors and two under construction. Nearly all oil and gas for transportation and power needs must be imported, making Taiwan particularly sensitive to fluctuations in energy prices. Taiwan is rich in Wind power, wind energy resources, with wind farms both onshore and offshore, though limited land area favors offshore wind resources. By promoting renewable energy, Taiwan's government hopes to also aid the nascent renewable energy manufacturing industry, and develop it into an export market.


Human geography

Taiwan has a population of over 23 million, the vast majority of whom live in the lowlands near the western coast of the island. The island is highly urbanized, with nearly 9 million people living in the Taipei–Keelung–Taoyuan metropolitan area at the northern end, and over 2 million each in the urban areas of Kaohsiung metropolitan area, Kaohsiung and Taichung–Changhua metropolitan area, Taichung. Taiwanese aborigines comprise approximately 2% of the population, and now mostly live in the mountainous eastern part of the island. Most scholars believe their ancestors arrived in Taiwan by sea between 4000 and 3000 BC, most likely from the mainland. Han Chinese make up over 95% of the population. Immigrants from southern
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
began to farm the area around modern Tainan and Kaohsiung from the 17th century, later spreading across the western and northern plains and absorbing the aboriginal population of those areas. Hakka people from eastern Guangdong arrived later and settled the foothills further inland, but the rugged uplands of the eastern half of the island remained the exclusive preserve of the aborigines until the early 20th century. A further 1.2 million people from throughout mainland China entered Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.


Environmental issues

Some areas in Taiwan with high population density and many factories are affected by heavy pollution. The most notable areas are the southern suburbs of Taipei and the western stretch from Tainan to Lin Yuan, south of Kaohsiung. By the late 20th century, Taipei suffered from extensive vehicle and factory air pollution, but after the government required mandatory use of unleaded petrol and established the Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, Environmental Protection Administration in 1987 to regulate air quality, the air quality of Taiwan has improved dramatically. Motor scooters, especially older or cheaper Two-stroke engine, two-stroke versions, which are ubiquitous in Taiwan, contribute disproportionately to urban air pollution. Other environmental issues include water pollution from industrial emissions and raw sewage, contamination of drinking water supplies, trade in endangered species, and low-level radioactive waste disposal. Though regulation of sulfate aerosol emissions from petroleum combustion is becoming stringent, acid rain remains a threat to the health of residents and forests. Atmospheric scientists in Taiwan estimate that more than half of the pollutants causing Taiwan's acid rain are carried from mainland China by monsoon winds.


Notes


References


Citations


Works cited

*


External links


Taiwan datums
Open Source Geospatial Foundation Wiki
National Parks of Taiwan
Construction and Planning Agency, Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan (ROC)
Taiwan Pass
Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and communications, Taiwan (ROC) * {{Portal bar, Taiwan, Islands, Asia, Geography Geography of Taiwan, Geography of Northeast Asia, Taiwan Islands of the Pacific Ocean