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Pictures by QT Luong

Taiwan is an island with great geographical diversity despite its modest size (245mi long, 89mi wide). Two-thirds of Taiwan is covered by high mountains, culminating at almost 13,000ft. There are numerous beaches, tropical forests, and marble-walled gorges, more than justifying its former name "Ihla Formosa", the Beautiful Isle. While the culture and population of Taiwan at first appears plain Chinese, the attentive traveler will notice that annoucements in the Taipei subway are made in three dialects (plus English): Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka. Taiwan is governed by the Republic of China (ROC), established in 1912, then relocated to the island in 1949, after the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland. Thanks to its free-market economy, Taiwan has experienced rapid growth and is now an advanced economy, evolving in the 1980s into democracy. Travel is efficient and relatively inexpensive. In 2012, I spent a week in Taiwan, visiting Taipei as well as the major sights in the northern part of Taiwan.