Taipei (Taiwanese Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-pak-chhī; Jhuyin Fuhao: ㄊㄞˊ ㄅㄟˇ ㄕˋ; Hakka: Thòi-pet-sṳ) has been the capital of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan since 1949. It is situated on the Danshui River, almost at the northern tip of the country, about 25 km southwest of Keelung, which is its port on the Pacific Ocean. Another coastal city, Danshui, is about 20 km northwest at the river's mouth on the Taiwan Strait.
Taipei lies in the relatively narrow, bowl-shaped valley of the Danshui and two of its main tributaries, the Jilong (Keelung) and Xindian (Sindian) rivers. The generally low-lying terrain of the central areas on the western side of the municipality slopes upward to the south and east and especially to the north, where it reaches 1,120 metres at Mount Qixing (七星山). The climate is humid subtropical, with hot, muggy, rainy summers and cool, damp winters. It is also the political, economic, and cultural center of the country.
Taipei City, Taipei County, and Keelung City together form the Taipei metropolitan area but are administered under different local government bodies. Taipei City is a special municipality administered directly under the Executive Yuan, while Taipei County and Keelung City are administered as part of Taiwan Province. Taipei commonly refers to the whole metropolitan area, while Taipei City refers to the city proper. Taipei's city government is headed by a mayor who is elected by direct popular vote. A secretary-general assists the mayor.
Taipei is part of a major industrial area. Most of Taiwan's textile factories are here, and other products include electronics, electrical machinery and appliances, wires and cables, and refrigeration equipment. Shipbuilding, including yachts and other pleasure craft, is done in the port of Keelung east of the city. Railways and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. The city is served by the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport west of the city in Taoyuan. The freeway system is excellent.
Taipei was founded in the early 18th century and became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century. The Japanese acquired the island in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War and made Taipei the capital. The Republic of China took over the island in 1945 after Japan's defeat in World War II. The city became the provisional capital of the Kuomintang (KMT) government in December 1949 after the Communist government was formally installed in mainland China. The arrival of democracy in the 1990s has made it simply the seat of Taiwan's government, regardless of the party in power.
Hanyu Pinyin, which is mandated by the city government, and Tongyong Pinyin, which is still in use (until january 2009, when the only official romanization system natiowide will be Hanyu Pinyin), both reflect this pronunciation, romanizing Taipei as Taibei, a spelling that is closer to the Standard Mandarin pronunciation of . However, this romanization is very rarely seen.
Taipei City has converted many of its street signs to Hanyu Pinyin, but it has retained the original spelling of "Taipei" as an exception, since this form has been well-known and heavily used.
Taipei City is located in the Taipei Basin in northern Taiwan. It is bordered by the Xindian River on the south, and the Danshui (Tamsui) River on the west. The northern districts of Shilin and Beitou extend north of the Keelung River and are bordered by Yangmingshan National Park. The Taipei city limits cover an area ranked sixteenth of twenty-five among all counties and cities in Taiwan.
Cising Mountain is located on the Datun Volcano Group and the tallest Mountain at the rim of the Taipei Basin. Its main peak is 1,120 m tall (above elevation).
Mt. Datun's main peak is 1092 m tall. It is defined as an area in the western section of Yangmingshan National Park, extending from Mt. Datun northward to Mt. Caigongkeng (菜公坑山). Located on a broad saddle between two mountains, the area contains the marshy Datun Pond.
|Hanyu Pinyin||Chinese characters (Hanzi)||Wade-Giles||Postcode|
| Record High (°C)|| 30|| 31|| 33|| 35|| 37|| 37|| 38|| 38|| 36|| 35|| 33|| 31|
| Average High (°C)|| 19|| 18|| 21|| 25|| 28|| 32|| 34|| 33|| 31|| 27|| 24|| 21|
| Average Low (°C)|| 12|| 12|| 14|| 17|| 21|| 23|| 26|| 24|| 23|| 19|| 17|| 14|| |
| Record Low (°C) || 3|| 0|| 2|| 8|| 10|| 16|| 19|| 19|| 13|| 11|| 1|| 2|| |
|Average Rainfall (mm)||86||135||178||170||231||290||248||305||244||122||66||71|| |
The region known as the Taipei basin was home to Ketagalan tribes before the eighteenth century. Han Chinese mainly from Fujian province of China began to settle in the Taipei Basin in 1709. In the late 19th century, the Taipei area, where the major Han Chinese settlements in northern Taiwan and one of the designated overseas trade port, Tamsui, were located, gained economic importance due to the booming overseas trade, especially that of tea exportation. In 1875, the northern part of Taiwan was separated from Taiwan Prefecture (臺灣府) and incorporated into the new Taipei Prefecture as a new administrative entity of the Chinese government (Qing Dynasty). Having been established adjoining the flourishing townships of Bangkah and Twatutia, the new prefectural capital was known as Chengnei (城內), "the inner city", and government buildings were erected there. From 1875 (during the Qing Dynasty) until the beginning of Japanese rule in 1895, Taipei was part of Danshui County of Taipei Prefecture and the prefectural capital. In 1886, when Taiwan was proclaimed a province of China, Taipei city was made the provincial capital. Taipei remained a temporary provincial capital before it officially became the capital of Taiwan in 1894. All that remains from the old Qing Dynasty city is the north gate. The west gate and city walls were demolished by the Japanese while the south gate, little south gate and east gate were extensively modified by the Kuomintang and have lost much of their original character.
As settlement for losing the First Sino-Japanese War, China ceded the island of Taiwan to the Empire of Japan in 1895 as part of the peace agreement. After the Japanese take-over, Taipei, called Taihoku in Japanese, was retained as the capital and emerged as the political center of the Japanese Colonial Government. During that time the city acquired the characteristics of an administrative center, including many new public buildings and housing for civil servants. Much of the architecture of Taipei dates from the period of Japanese rule, including the Presidential Building which was the Office of the Taiwan Governor-General.
During the Japanese rule, Taihoku was incorporated in 1920 as part of Taihoku Prefecture (台北縣). It included Bangka, Dadaocheng, and Chengnei among other small settlements. The eastern village Matsuyama (松山區) was annexed into Taihoku City in 1938. Upon the Japanese defeat in the Pacific War and its consequent surrender in August 1945, the Chinese Nationalist assumed control of Taiwan. Subsequently, a temporary Office of the Taiwan Province Administrative Governor was established in Taipei City.
On December 7 1949, the Kuomintang (KMT) government under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek established Taipei as the capital of the ROC after the Communists forced them to flee mainland China after the Civil War.
Taipei expanded greatly in the decades after 1949, and as approved on December 30, 1966 by the Executive Yuan, Taipei was declared a special centrally administered municipality on July 1, 1967 and given the administrative status of a province. In the following year, Taipei City expanded again by annexing Shilin, Beitou, Neihu, Nangang, Jingmei, and Muzha. At that time, the city's total area increased fourfold through absorbing several outlying towns and villages.
The city's population, which had reached one million in the early 1960s, also expanded rapidly after 1967, exceeding two million by the mid-1970s. Although growth within the city itself gradually slowed thereafter — its population had become relatively stable by the mid-1990s — Taipei remained one of the world's most densely populated urban areas, and the population continued to increase in the region surrounding the city, notably along the corridor between Taipei and Keelung. In 1990, 16 districts in Taipei City were consolidated into the current 12 districts.
Taipei and its environs have long been the foremost industrial area of Taiwan. Most of the country's important factories producing textiles and wearing apparel are located there; other industries include the manufacture of electronic products and components, electrical machinery and equipment, printed materials, precision equipment, and foods and beverages. Services, including those related to commerce, transportation, and banking, have become increasingly important. Tourism is a small but significant component of the local economy.
Beginning in the 1960s, many older, low wooden buildings in Taipei began to be replaced with high-rise apartment houses and office buildings. Because of the population influx and the priority given to office and industrial construction, an acute shortage of housing developed in the city. The government has taken steps since the late 1960s to build affordable public housing, but overall real-estate costs have remained high. Much new construction has occurred in the city center, particularly in the area of the Presidential Building and the Nationalist Party headquarters, and broad boulevards now radiate from there to all parts of the city. Among the more notable commercial projects was the Taipei 101 (Taipei Financial Center) building which, when its framework was completed in 2003, became the world's tallest building, reaching 508 m.
In the 1960s, foreign investment in Taiwan helped introduce modern, labor-intensive technology to the island, and Taiwan became a major exporter of labor-intensive products.
On July 1,1970, to further develop Taiwan international trade activities, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) were established as economic growth was accelerating. The Taipei World Trade Center was completed in 1985.
In the 1980s, production in Taiwan shifted toward increasingly sophisticated, capital-intensive and technology-intensive products for export and toward developing the service sector. At the same time, the appreciation of the New Taiwan dollar (TWD), rising labor costs, and increasing environmental consciousness in Taiwan caused many labor-intensive industries, such as shoe manufacturing, to move to mainland China. Taiwan has also invested heavily in mainland China estimated to total more than $100 billion.
However the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), was established in 1986 to provide a single, modern venue that would combine exhibition space, conference facilities, offices, and hotel accommodation for international business. It is located in the city's Xinyi District, TWTC combines every possible service that brings together a vast consulting service on trade-related issues, trading partners, suppliers, and markets.
The International Trade Building was completed in 1988 and the International Convention Center completed in 1989.
The mayor of Taipei City had been an appointed position since Taipei's conversion to a centrally-administered municipality in 1967 until the first public election was held in 1994. The position has a four-year term. The first elected mayor was Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party. Ma Ying-Jeou took office in 1998 for two terms, before handing over to Hau Lung-bin. Both Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-Jeou went on to become President of Republic of China.
Based on the outcomes of previous elections in the past decade, the vote of the overall constituency of Taipei City shows a slight inclination towards the pro-KMT camp (the Pan-Blue Coalition); however, the pro-DPP camp (the Pan-Green Coalition) also has considerable support.
Ketagalan Boulevard, where Republic of China's Presidential Office Building and other government structures are situated, is often the site of mass gatherings such as inauguration and national holiday parades, receptions for visiting dignitaries, political demonstrations and public festivals.
Most areas of interest are easily accessible from the transit system. The MRT (Taipei's Metro Rapid Transit System) has well-marked signs, in both English and Chinese, throughout the stations to get you to your destination quickly. They have above and below ground lines. The above ground lines are particularly good, and cheap, for sightseeing. An automated system tells you each station's name when approached in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, and English. The city has the highest wireless penetration in the world, with the internet being accessible through a city wide Wi-Fi network consisting of over 20,000 access points.
A popular recreation area is nearby Yangmingshan (陽明山). Both the mountain and the town of Beitou at its base are known for their hot springs. The Maokong area of Taipei's mountains has since 2007 been served by a gondola that takes visitors to mountaintop tea houses. Bitan (Green Water) in Taipei County is a popular location for boating and water sports.
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a monument that was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. The monument, surrounded by a park and a large square incorporating the National Concert Hall and National Theater, stands within sight of Republic of China's Presidential Building in Taipei's Zhongzheng District.
The National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is a memorial to one of the most recognizable founding fathers of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, and was completed on May 16, 1972. From the opening of the hall, majority of the exhibits displayed were revolutionary events of the national founding fathers at the end of the Qing Dynasty. However, recently its function moved toward a multi-purpose social, educational and cultural center for the Taiwanese public. The Memorial Hall is within walking distance to Taipei 101.
The National Palace Museum is an art gallery and museum built around a permanent collection centered on ancient Chinese artifacts. It should not be confused with the Palace Museum in Beijing (which it is named after). Both institutions trace their origins to the same institution. The collections were divided in the 1940s as a result of the Chinese Civil War. The National Palace Museum in Taipei, now boasting a much more international collection, still remains most famous for housing one of the world's largest collections of artifacts from ancient China. The museum reopened in December 2006 after several years of extensive renovations.
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum was established in December 24, 1983. It is also the first modern art museum. The artworks in the museum are mostly done by Taiwanese artists. There are more than 3,000 artworks in the museum. Most of them are done after 1940 by Taiwanese artist, and are organized into 13 groups. In 2000, there were exhibitions of digital technology arts in the museum. In 2001, Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (台北當代藝術館;MOCA Taipei) was established in the Taipei City government old building.
The National Taiwan Museum is the oldest museum in Taiwan. It was set up by the colonial government of Japan on October 24, 1908 to commemorate the inauguration of the North-South Railway during the Japanese rule in Taiwan. The colonial government of Japan set up the Taiwan Governor Museum . The museum had a collection of over 10,000 items in its initial stages. In 1915, the new building of the museum in Taipei New Park was inaugurated and became one of the major public buildings during Japanese rule.
The National Palace Museum is a leading art gallery and cultural landmark. The museum hosts a number of international exhibits as well as hosting its own historically unique collection (see discussion above).
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum was established in 1983 as Taiwan's first museum of modern art. The collection features over 3,000 works, mainly by Taiwanese artists since the 1940s. The collection is organized into 13 groups. In 2000, there were exhibitions of digital technology arts in the museum.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (台北當代藝術館;MOCA Taipei) opened in 2001. Its building originally housed offices for the Taipei City government.
The National Theater and Concert Hall stand at Taipei's Liberty Square and host a non-stop series of events by performers from Taiwan and every region of the world. Other leading concert venues include the historic Zhongshan Hall at Ximen and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall near Taipei 101.
A new cultural landmark, the Taipei Performing Arts Center, is slated to open in 2013. The venue will stand near the Shilin Night Market across from the Jingtian MRT station. The Performing Arts Center will house three theatres for events with multi-week runs. The architectural design will be determined in 2009 as the result of an international competition. Construction is expected to take place from 2010 to 2013. The same design process is also in place for a new Taipei Center for Popular Music and Taipei City Museum.
Ximending has been a famous area for shopping and entertainment since the 1930s. Historic structures include a concert hall and a historic cinema. Modern structures house karaoke businesses, art film cinemas, wide-release movie cinemas, electronic stores, and a wide variety of restaurants and fashion clothing stores. The pedestrian area is especially popular with teens.
The Xinyi District is popular with tourists and locals alike for its many entertainment and shopping venues, as well as being the home of the Taipei 101 building, a prime tourist attraction famous for being the world's tallest building. Malls in the area include the sprawling Shin Kong Mitsukoshi complex, Taipei 101 mall, Eslite Bookstore's flagship store (which includes a boutique mall), The Living Mall, New York New York shopping mall, and the Vieshow Cinema (formerly known as Warner Village). The thriving shopping area around Taipei Main Station includes the Taipei Underground Market and the original Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store at Shin Kong Life Tower. Other popular shopping destinations include the Zhongshan Metro Mall, Dihua Street, the Guanghua Bazaar (electronics and comics market), and the Core Pacific City. The Miramar Entertainment Park is famous for its large ferris wheel and Imax theater.
Taipei maintains an extensive system of parks, green spaces, and nature preserves. Parks and forestry areas of note in and around the city include Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei Zoo and Da-an Forest Park.
Yangmingshan (only 10 km north of the central city), famous for its cherry blossoms, hot springs, sulfur deposits is the home of famous writer Lin Yutang, the summer residence of Chiang Kai-shek, residences of foreign diplomats, the Chinese Culture University, the meeting place of the now defunct National Assembly of the Republic of China, and the Kuomintang Party Archives. The Taipei Zoo was founded in 1914 and covers an area of 165 hectares for animal sanctuary.
Taipei is rich in beautiful, ornate temples housing Buddhist, Taoist, and Chinese folk religion deities. The Longshan Temple, located in the Wanhua District demonstrates an example of architecture with southern Chinese influences commonly seen in older buildings in Taiwan.
Xinsheng South Road is known as the road to heaven because of its high concentration of churches as well as a mosque (literally called “Pure Truth Temple” in Chinese). Several blocks away from Xinsheng South Road is the beautiful, pristine Mormon Temple as well as the Vatican’s representative office.
Besides large temples, small outdoor shrines to local deities are very common, and can be spotted on road sides, parks, and neighborhoods. Many homes and businesses may also set up small shrines of candles, figurines, and offerings. Some restaurants, for example, may set up a small shrine to the Kitchen god for success in a restaurant business.
All scheduled international flights are served by Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in nearby Taoyuan County. Songshan Airport at the heart of the city serves mostly domestic flights, with the exception of some charter flights.
Taipei's public transport system, the Taipei Metro (commonly referred to as the MRT), incorporates a metro and light rail system based on advanced VAL technology. In addition to the rapid transit system itself, the Taipei Metro also includes several public facilities such as the Maokong Gondola, underground shopping malls, parks, and public squares. Modifications to existing railway lines to integrate them into the Metro system are underway, as well as a rapid transit line to connect the city with Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Customer satisfaction with the Taipei Metro, at over 94% in 2008, ranks it as possibly the best public transport system worldwide.
Taipei Main Station serves as the comprehensive hub for bus transportation, the Metro, Taiwan Rail, and Taiwan High Speed Rail.
The Taiwan High Speed Rail system opened in 2007. The bullet trains connect Taipei with the west coast cities of Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Zuoying (Kaohsiung) at speeds that cut travel times by 60% or more from what they normally are on a bus or conventional train.
An extensive city bus system serves metropolitan areas not covered by the metro. Sometimes buses require payment upon boarding, sometimes upon exiting. Many routes, due to length, require payment upon both boarding and exiting. Riders of the city MRT system are able to use their MRT passes on buses. The pass, known as Easy Card, contain credits that are deducted each time a ride is taken. The Easy Card, Taipei's equivalent to Hong Kong's Octopus Card, is read via proximity sensory panels on buses and in MRT stations, and need not be removed from wallet or purse.
Motor-scooters are ubiquitous in Taipei (and much of Taiwan). Motor-scooters often weave between cars and occasionally through oncoming traffic. While there is little respect for traffic laws there are increasing numbers of police roadblocks checking riders for alcohol consumption and other offenses.
19 universities have campuses located in Taipei:
The National Taiwan University was established in 1928 during the period of Japanese colonial rule. NTU has produced many political and social leaders in Taiwan. Both pan-blue and pan-green movements in Taiwan are rooted on the NTU campus. The university has six campuses in the greater Taipei region (including Taipei County) and two additional campuses in Nantou County. The University governs farms, forests, and hospitals for educational and research purposes. The main campus is in Taipei's Da-An district, where most department buildings and all the administrative buildings are located. The College of Law and the College of Medicine are located near the Presidential Building (Taiwan). The National Taiwan University Hospital is a leading international center of medical research.
National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU or Shida) likewise traces its origins to the Japanese colonial period. Originally a teacher training institution, NTNU has developed into a comprehensive international university with demanding entrance requirements. The university boasts especially strong programs in the humanities and international education. Worldwide it is perhaps best known as home of the Mandarin Training Center, a program that offers Mandarin language training each year to over a thousand students from dozens of countries throughout the world. The main campus in Taipei's Guting district is known for its historic architecture and giving its name to the Shida Night Market, one of the most popular of the many night markets in Taipei.
Due to Taiwan being under American and Japanese influence over the years, the sports of baseball in particular and basketball have become popular in the city. Taipei, like the rest of the country, has featured most prominently in baseball and has often been the venue for the Asian Baseball Championship since the 1960s.
The Taipei Arena is located in the city home to baseball with a capacity of some 15,000. It is located at the site of the former Taipei Municipal Baseball Stadium (built in 1958, opened 1959, demolished 2000). It was designed by Archasia, an architectural firm established in Taipei. The arena was opened on December 1st, 2005. It is currently operated by the Eastern Media Group (東森集團), which won the bid to operate the arena for 9 years.
The main arena has an adjustable floor space: its minimum floor space is 60 m x 30 m, and can be extended to 80 m x 40 m.
The Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey League (CTIHL) plays out of the auxiliary arena, which is a 60 m x 30 m ice skating rink.
Since opening in 2005, the arena has held more art and cultural activities (such as live concerts) than sporting events, which it was originally designed and built for.
Taipei has the only football-specific stadium in Taiwan, Chungshan Soccer Stadium, which hosts the national football team. It hosts qualifiers for the FIFA World and AFC regional cups, and finals of school football tournaments. As there is no professional football league in Taiwan, no other sporting events are held there.
As the capital, Taipei City is the headquarters for many television and radio stations in Taiwan and the centre of some of the country's largest newspapers.