Taiwan is largely mountainous with a chain of mountains running from north to south at the centre of the island. The west coast is largely plains and unsurprisingly is where most of the population is concentrated, and is where all the larger cities like Taichung and Kaohsiung are located. The east coast also has some plains but are more sparsely populated due to the higher typhoon risk, but is also home to the cities of Hualien and Taitung with significant populations.
Baseball was brought to Taiwan by the Japanese during the colonial period. Its popularity rose greatly when the Taiwanese baseball team finished second in the Japanese national championships. Today, baseball retains a strong following and remains by far the most popular team sport in Taiwan. Several Taiwanese players have also gone on to successful careers in the U.S and Japanese Major League Baseball MLB and the Taiwanese national baseball team is considered to be one of the strongest in the world.
Besides baseball, basketball also has a sizeable following in Taiwan and is quite popular among teenagers. When the class is over, the basketball courts inside schools are not only open to students but also the public.
Billiard is another popular sport in Taiwan. It's easy to find billiard rooms throughout the country and there are also many championship-winning players in Taiwan, most of whom started training when they were still teens.
Other sports which are popular include Taekwondo, table tennis and golf.
Taiwan has been populated for thousands of years by more than a dozen non-Han Chinese aboriginal tribes. Written history begins with the partial colonization of Taiwan by the Dutch and then the Portuguese in the early 17th century. The old name of Taiwan, Formosa, comes from the Portuguese Ilha Formosa for "beautiful island". Han Chinese immigrants arrived in significant numbers with the onset of European trade. Although controlled by the Dutch, the Ming loyalist Koxinga defeated the Dutch garrisons and set up Taiwan as a rump Ming Empire with the hope of reconquering Qing China. His son surrendered to the Qing in the late 1600s. Although contact between China and Taiwan dates back thousands of years, it was not until larger numbers of Han residents arrived during the Qing dynasty that Taiwan was formally integrated into the rest of China as part of Hokkien Fujian province. It became a separate province in 1885. Defeated by the Japanese, the Qing Empire ceded Taiwan to Japan under the terms of the treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. Japan ruled the island all the way until the end of World War II in 1945, and exerted profound influences on its development. The island's entertainment and pop culture was and still is heavily influenced by that of Japan. Much of the Japanese-built infrastructure can still be seen on the island today, and has been in fact continuously used up to the present day e.g. rail-road crossing gates, administrative buildings, and the old port at Kaohsiung.
In the early 20th century, the Nationalists Kuomintang, KMT åæ°é»¨ and Communists fought a major bloody civil war in mainland China. Although the two sides were briefly united against Japan during World War II, they quickly began fighting again after the war was over. Eventually, the Communists were victorious in 1949. The Nationalist government, the remnant of their army, and hundreds of thousands of supporters then fled to Taiwan. From Taipei, they continued to assert their right as the sole legitimate government of all China. Initially very repressive, the government began to loosen control in its fourth decade under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo. Taiwan also experienced rapid economic growth and modernisation under the leadership of Chiang Ching-kuo, becoming one of the world's richest and most modern economies and earning it a place as one of the East Asian Tigers. Taiwan still remains a leader in consumer electronics and is home to well-known computer brands such as Acer, Asus, Garmin, Gigabyte and HTC. Democratization began in earnest through the 1980s and 1990s, culminating with the first direct presidential elections in 1996, and the first peaceful transition of power between two political parties in 2000.
Taiwanese politics remain dominated by the issue of relations between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China, which still claims Taiwan as a "renegade province" and regularly threatens military action if Taiwan attempts to break away from the current awkward One China status quo, where both sides agree that there is only one Chinese nation, but disagree on whether that one nation is governed by the PRC or the ROC. To summarize a very complex situation, the Pan-Blue æ³è group spearheaded by the KMT supports eventual unification with the mainland when the political climate is right, while the Pan-Green æ³ç¶ group led by the Democratic Progressive Party DPP supports eventual independence under the name "Taiwan". The split extends down to trivial issues like Chinese romanization — the KMT prefers the mainland's Hanyu pinyin, the DPP prefers a Taiwan-made variant called Tongyong pinyin — and political demonstrations and rallies, always turbulent, on occasion even turn violent.
Chinese New Year dates
2012 is the year of the Dragon
2013 Snake - 10 February
2014 Horse - 31 January
2015 Goat - 19 February
As Taiwan is dominated by ethnic Chinese, traditional Chinese festivals are celebrated by the Taiwanese. Among the most notable are: