Elected one of 28 finalists in the New Seven Wonders of Nature, Yushan Mountain is the highest mountain in Taiwan and the fourth highest mountain on an island. Yushan Mountain is an iconic symbol of Taiwan, and is represented on their currency.
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Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Yushan and the surrounding mountains belong to Yushan Range, which is part of Yushan National Park in Taiwan. Yushan National Park is Taiwan's largest, highest and least accessible national park. It contains the largest tract of wilderness remaining in Taiwan and is also valued for its forests, vegetation and wildlife.
The highest point of Yushan range, Yushan, is12,966 ft above sea level. Yushan was once in the ocean and raised to the current height because the Eurasian Plate slid under the neighboring Philippine Sea Plate.
The ocean waters off Taiwan's east coast are deep; in fact, the slopes plunge down to the Pacific Ocean at a grade of 1:10 and the ocean reaches a depth of more than 13,100 ft about 30 mi from the coast. From this perspective, Yushan is even more impressive if you consider it rises 26,200 ft steeply from the nearby ocean floor in just 60 miles..
Vegetation and Wildlife
Taiwan experiences a mixed climate between tropical and subtropical. The average temperature is 72 Â°F. The low elevations support evergreen forests. As elevation increases, these forests are gradually replaced by deciduous forests and coniferous forests. At mountain peaks with alpine conditions, only mosses, liverworts and occasionally grasses can be found.
All of the vegetation variations can be seen in the Yushan area from low foothills to high summits with an elevation difference of 2.2 mi. Because of the climatic and vegetation variations, this environment houses the richest and most diversified wildlife in Taiwan. Studies reveal that there are 130 species of birds, 28 species of mammals, 17 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians and 186 species of butterflies in Yushan National Park. Yushan is nicknamed "the ark" by academics who see it as a home of Taiwan's rare species. It is almost an encyclopedia of Taiwan's ecological systems, a geological museum and an important habitat of one-third of Taiwan's wildlife species.
Yushan was first observed by a westerner in 1857. W. Morrison, captain of the American freighter SS Alexander, sighted this mountain while departing from Tainan. He recorded this sighting in his log, and the mountain gained the name Mount Morrison in western literature.
In 1900, after the annexation of Taiwan by the Japanese, two Japanese anthropologists became the first people to have been recorded ascending the mountain. They gave the mountain the name Mount Niitaka, literally the "New High Mountain", because it was even higher than Mount Fuji in Japan by 577 ft. In 1937, Niitaka was designated part of the Niitaka (New Highest) Arisan National Park
Yushan has played an important role in a focus on Taiwan's identity. Because its iconic status, Yushan has been chosen to be the background of the newly issued NT $1,000 dollar bills on 20th July, 2005. Similarly, a newly found asteroid by Lulin Observatory of National Central University was named after Yushan on December 28, 2007.