Officially the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan is a state in East Asia founded in 1912 and was the first democratic republic in Asia. The island, formerly known as Formosa – “Beautiful Island” in Portuguese, is located off the southeast coast of the Asian continent at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and the Philippines.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, but Minnan (the southern Min dialect) is also widely spoken. The most popular foreign language in Taiwan is English, which is part of the regular school curriculum, and many business circles have fluent English speakers.
While taxis and car hires are widely available, many choose to use a bicycle. The country invests in creating and maintaining cycle paths to accommodate the increasing number of cyclists, particularly in the capital city of Taipei.
Taiwan is home to abundant animal and plant life, including various endemic species. Large numbers of birds migrate from around the world to Taiwan, including the eye-catching fairy pitta, known in Chinese as the eight-color bird. Bird watching, scuba diving, and hiking in the many national parks are among the popular activities for visitors and locals alike.