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Taiwan is an island nation of about 36,000 square kilometres located off the coast of south-eastern China, south west of Okinawa and north of the Philippines.
The nation is home to more than 22 million people and is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Besides its crowded cities and friendly people, Taiwan is also known for steep mountains and lush forests. In addition to the island of Taiwan, the county includes the Pescadores (Penghu), Quemoy (Kinmen/Jinmen), and Matsu islands.
Taiwan can be divided into five regions:
Taiwan has many large cities and towns. Below is a list of nine of the most notable. Other cities are listed under their specific regional section.
Taipei is the seat of government of the Republic of China and its centrer of commerce and culture. Taipei is home to the world's currently tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101.
Hsinchu is a centre of hi-tech industry, and one of the world's leading manufacturers of hi-tech components. Hsinchu Science Park is the home to many hi-tech companies.
Hualien is located near Taroko Gorge, and is considered one of the most pleasant of Taiwan's cities.
Jiufen - this former gold mining town located on the north east coast is now a popular tourist destination.
Kaohsiung is the second-largest city on the island. It has one of the busiest sea ports (the Port of Kaohsiung) in the world and it has a major airport.
Keelung is the a centre of transshipment in the north, and is located about a thirty minute drive from down town Taipei.
Puli is located at the geographical centre of the island, and it serves as a good base for exploring the central mountains and Sun Moon Lake.
> Taichung is the third largest city in Taiwan, and has an abundance of interesting cultural amenities and activities.
Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was the capital during imperial times. It is famous for its historic buildings and snack food.
There are about 18,400 species of wildlife on the island with more than 20% belonging to rare or endangered species. These include the land-locked salmon, Taiwan mountain goat, Formosan rock monkey, Formosan black bear, blue magpie, Mikado pheasant and the Hsuehshan grass lizard. In order to preserve the environment and cultural sites, the government has established 6 national parks and 13 national scenic areas which are worth visiting.