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Facts about Taipei, the Heart of Taiwan

Updated on April 16, 2014
Taipei 101, skyscraper in Taipei
Taipei 101, skyscraper in Taipei | Source

Taipei is the capital and education, commercial, and industrial center of Taiwan, Republic of China, situated in the Taipei Basin near the northern tip of the island. The city center rises on the east bank of the Tanshui River, 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Chilung (Keelung),

Taipei grew from three centers: Mengchia (now called Wanhua), Tataocheng, and the inner city. In the first half of the 18th century, Mengchia became an important trade center on the Tanshui River. It prospered until after the 1860s, when its port silted up and its trade was taken over by Tataocheng, a market town 1.5 miles (2.5 km) downstream. Between them an administrative center called Taipei Fu (the present inner city) was founded in 1875 and surrounded by a wall in 1883. After Taiwan was proclaimed a province separate from Fukien in 1886, the first governor, Liu Ming-ch'uan, established his residence in Taipei Fu and designated Tataocheng a settlement for foreign merchants. Liu built new roads linking the three urban districts to combine them into one city. In 1891, Taipei became the official capital of Taiwan.

Wanhua | Source

In 1895, China ceded Taiwan to Japan. During their 50-year occupation, the Japanese rebuilt Taipei's inner city and demolished its wall. As Taihoku, Taipei was the seat of the Japanese administration. In 1945, Taiwan and its capital were restored to China.

After the government of the Republic of China moved to Taipei in 1949, population and industry grew rapidly. In 1958 the provincial government of Taiwan was transferred to Chunghsing New Village, near the center of the island, and in 1967 the city of Taipei was detached from Taiwan province and made a special municipality under the direct jurisdiction of the national government. At the same time, its area was quadrupled to 105 square miles (272 sq km). Large modern apartment buildings with green open spaces were built in outer districts to relieve congestion in the older sections. By 2012 the population had reached an estimated 2,673,226.


Modern Taipei is surrounded by New Taipei (Xinbei), a special municipality created in 2010 from what had once been Taipei county. It includes the former county-controlled cities of Pan-ch'iao (Banqiao), Luzhou, Sanchong, Shulin, Tucheng, Xizhi, Xindian, Xinzhuang, Yonghe, and Zhongwe. New Taipei City has replaced Taipei as the most populous city in Taiwan. It has a population of 3,939,305 (2012 est.). The population of the Taipei metropolitan area is 6,894,865 (2012 est.).

Taipei is Taiwan's major cultural, industrial, commercial, and tourist center. National Taiwan University and many other educational and professional institutions are located in the city. The National Palace Museum houses the largest collection of Chinese art in the world. Among other places of interest are the Martyrs' Shrine, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Lungshan Temple, Taipei Confucian Temple, the National Museum of History, the Botanical Garden, and Yangmingshan Park.

About half of the city's factories are engaged in the manufacture of electronic, electrical, metal, chemical, and textile products. Industry is concentrated in the outer districts of Nankang, Shihlin, Neihu, and Sungshan. Many streams of the Taipei Basin have been contaminated by industrial wastes. Because three rivers of the Tanshui system supply 90% of Taipei's water, the government in 1984 set up a Tanshui River pollution-control zone.

Taipei has two airports: Chiang Kai-shek International and Taipei Sung Shan Domestic Airport. The first phase of a multi-billion-dollar rapid-transit system began operation in 1996; the second did so in 2006. The last of six routes linking the city center to the suburbs is scheduled for completion in 2019.


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