Republic of China
The country is commonly known by the name “Taiwan” but officially it is actually called the Republic of China. This should not be confused with the People's Republic of China. To this day, the majority of countries in the world, including the People's Republic of China, still do not recognise Taiwan as an independent country. Only the Vatican City and the 21 countries of the United Nations have officially recognised the Republic of China.
Biking is popular
Forget the car, train and metro. When you are in Taiwan, hop on a bike instead! Taiwanese people love to cycle and it is getting more and more popular every day. The government invests a considerable amount of money in creating and maintaining cycle paths. The country's capital city, Taipei, in particular has an extensive infrastructure for cyclists.
Recently, the city government of Taipei decided that everyone should have access to the Internet in any public space. Now, free Wi-Fi has been introduced throughout the city. All you have to do is to register once and then you will have access to the Wi-Fi in public spaces such as shopping areas, hospitals and libraries. The idea is that in a few years, all the densely populated areas together with all public transport will have free Wi-Fi available. More information can be found on the official website.
Taiwan is one of the few countries that still use traditional Chinese characters in the written form of the language. These days, in almost every country where people speak Chinese, simplified Chinese characters are used. However, Taiwan and two autonomous parts of China (Hong Kong and Macau) never adopted these and still continue to use traditional characters.
Garbage trucks play music
Normally, trucks that play music are associated with ice creams and kids running behind them. In Taiwan, you’ll be disappointed if you hear music and hope to buy an ice cream. Here the garbage trucks play music to prompt people to bring their garbage to the truck. Beethoven's Für Elise can be heard in the streets on a regular base and during the holidays you can expect Christmas songs.
White symbolises death
The colour white symbolises death and is used at funerals instead of the black common in the West. You will not see white weddings either. The colour red represents good luck and is often used at weddings and other celebrations.
In Taiwan there are 14 recognised aboriginal tribes. Together they make up 1.8% of the country's population. It is estimated that aboriginals had been living in the country for 8,000 years before mass immigration by the Han Chinese commenced in the 17th century.
In 2011, fertility rates showed that the average number of children that Taiwanese women gave birth to during their lives was 0.9. This makes Taiwan the country with the lowest fertility rate in the world. One of the reasons for this is probably the fact that more women have better access to university and full-time jobs these days, whilst childcare is expensive.
When the Portuguese saw the island of Taiwan back in the 16th century, they called it Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island). The name was the official name for the island until the Second World War and nowadays Formosa is still informally used as a name for Taiwan.
Taiwan is slightly bigger than Belgium, but has a population of more than 23 million people! (For the record: the already dense population of Belgium is not even half as big with about 11 million residents). This makes Taiwan one of the most densely populated countries in the world, also considering that the large majority of people live in the flatter west side of the country.