Taiwan is also known as Formosa, (from Portuguese, Ilha Formosa) which means "Beautiful Island". Situated in East Asia in the Western Pacific Ocean, to the northeast lie the main islands of Japan and the Philippines lie to its south across the Bashi Channel. The island is also located off the southeastern coast of China. The area is still closely tied with mainland China and its official name is Republic of China (ROC). The physical difference from the Asian continent is only 120 kilometres (75 miles), across the Taiwan Strait.
The main island of Taiwan is 394 kilometres (245 miles) long and 144 kilometres (89 miles) wide. The island spans the Tropic of Cancer and is covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation, and a mountainous area. Off the coast lie a series of islands including the Pescadores, Green Island, Orchid Island, and Diaoyutai Islands (controlled by Japan since the 1970s).
There are about 22.9 million people in the RoC.
Taipei is headquarters of Taiwan's political, economic, and cultural scenes. It is the capital and largest city of the Taiwan province. The international community commonly employs the term "Chinese Taipei" due to pressure by the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Located at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is the main port on the Pacific Ocean. The city is between Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Danshui River along the city's western border. The city itself is within a basin High points include Cising Mountain to the north at 1,120 meters (3,675 feet). This is the highest (extinct) volcano in Taiwan and is within Yangmingshan National Park. Mount Datun is another peak and rises to the northeast of the city.
Taipei City is home to an estimated 2,607,428 people. The city, along with Taipei County, and Keelung City form the Taipei metropolitan area with a population of 6,776,264.
The city is built on a square grid configuration. Blocks are huge by international standards at 500 meters (1,640.42 feet). Lanes run perpendicular to streets and alleys are parallel with streets, or perpendicular to lanes. Occasionally minor roads run through the block diagonally.
Taipei has a marine tropical climate. This means the climate is four-season, monsoon-influenced, and humid subtropical. Summers are very hot and humid, while winters are short and mild.
Typhoons and heavy rainstorms may accompany the summer season of June through October. To check on current conditions:
Although not the worst of the Asian countries, air pollution is a factor in quality of life in Taiwan. Motor vehicle engine exhaust, particularly from motor scooters, is the main source of air pollution in Taipei. The levels of fine particulate matter are worse in the mornings as there is less air movement.
Occasional dust storms from mainland China can also affect the air quality of the city.
Originally the western districts were most developed from trade, but the eastern districts have since become the downtown. Recently the western districts have been the site of new urban renewal projects.
In 1990, the then 16 districts in Taipei City were consolidated into the current 12 administrative districts. Each district is further divided up into villages, which are further sub-divided up into neighbourhoods. The downtown area is culturally divided into East and West.
The West side has narrow streets and road side vendors, elements of old Taipei life.
East Taipei features classy malls, chic boutiques, and international restaurants.
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