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Taiwan is a modern, free, democratic society whose people are hardworking, fun-loving, and friendly. While eagerly embracing the future, the people of Taiwan hold onto traditional values and ideals centered on the importance of family and education. Traditional forms of writing, architecture, and art are part of everyday life. In Taiwan, the ancient and the modern, the traditional and the new are seamlessly woven together, creating a fascinating, dynamic society like no other in the world.
With a population of nearly 2.7 million, Taipei City is located in northern Taiwan, including the northeastern part of the Taipei Basin and the surrounding hills. It is divided into twelve administrative districts covering an area of 271 square kilometers. Taipei is home to a diverse population including indigenous people, Minnanese, Hakkas, mainlanders, new immigrants, and expats. Compared to other major cities on Taiwan’s west coast, Taipei developed fairly late. Prior to the large-scale immigration of Han Chinese from southern Taiwan in the early 18th century, the Taipei area was inhabited mainly by plains indigenous peoples. In 1884, the Qing court officially moved Taiwan’s administrative capital from Tainan to Taipei and erected a large wall to protect the city, marking a significant economic and power shift towards the north. Since then, Taipei has been Taiwan’s political, economic, and cultural center.
Before the 16th century, the area now occupied by Kaohsiung City was home to the Makato indigenous tribe who called it “Takau,” which translates to “bamboo forest”. Han Chinese immigrants who later settled in the area adopted the pronunciation “Takau”, but wrote it phonetically using the Chinese characters 打狗 (Dagou), which means “beat the dog”. Later, the Japanese occupying forces changed the name of the city to 高雄 (Kaohsiung) after an area in Ukyo-Ku, Kyoto.
Today, Kaohsiung is a thriving metropolis spread over nearly 3000 square kilometers and with a population of nearly 2.8 million. From above, the city presents a rich and varied landscape, with lush mountains, lakes, and rivers flowing to the sea which provides a steady cooling breeze for this sun-soaked city. The Port of Kaohsiung is one of the world’s busiest container ports, with a constant stream of cargo ships forming a critical artery for Asia-Pacific trade and commerce. In addition to the beauty of its natural setting, the city’s long history as an international port has also helped Kaohsiung develop a unique and thriving culture.