Sun Moon Lake (Zintun in the Thao language) is the largest lake in Taiwan as well as a popular tourist attraction. Situated in Yuchih, Nantou, the area around the Sun Moon Lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.
In older English literature it was commonly referred to as Lake Candidius, after the 17th century Dutch missionary Georgius Candidius. In the middle of the lake is the Lalu Island, which is the holy ground for the Thao tribe. Originally, the Lalu was where the Thao people inhabited. Under the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Japanese named it the "Jade Island". After Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government moved to Taiwan, the island was renamed Kuang Hua ("Glorious China") and in 1978 the local government built a pavilion where annual weddings took place. The 921 Earthquake destroyed the pavilion and sunk most of the island. In recent years, due to increasing social and political awareness, more deference and recognition are being given to Taiwanese aborigines. As a result, after 921 earthquake, the island was renamed in the Thao language as "Lalu".
Several hydroelectric power plants have been built in the Sun Moon Lake since 1919. When Taipower finished the first plant in 1934, it was considered to be one of the most important infrastructure constructions of the time. The Jiji Line railroad was built to facilitate the construction.
While swimming in Sun Moon Lake is usually not permitted, there is an annual 3-km race called the Swimming Carnival of Sun Moon Lake held around the Mid-Autumn Festival each year, and in recent years the participants have numbered in the tens of thousands. Other festivies held at the same time include fireworks, laser shows, and concerts.
The lake and its surrounding countryside have been designated one of thirteen National scenic areas in Taiwan.