Cruising to Taiwan


In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the native population within the governing structure.

In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of eventual unification - as well as domestic political and economic reform.


Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Geographic coordinates: 23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 35,980 sq km ; includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy


1,566.3 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


Tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year


Eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
Highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m


Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large, government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes less than 2% to GDP, down from 32% in 1952.

Taiwan is a major investor throughout Southeast Asia. China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's largest export market and, in 2005, Taiwan's third-largest source of imports after Japan and the US. Taiwan has benefited from cross-Strait economic integration and a sharp increase in world demand to achieve substantial growth in its export sector and a seven-year-high real GDP growth of 6.1% in 2004.

However, excess inventory, higher international oil prices, and rising interest rates dampened consumption in developed markets, and GDP growth dropped to 3.8% in 2005. The service sector, which accounts for 69% of Taiwan's GDP, has continued to expand, while unemployment and inflation rates have declined.


Airports: 42 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 38
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 4
Heliports: 3 (2005)
Pipelines: condensate 25 km; gas 435 km (2004)
Railways: total: 2,497 km
Roadways: total: 37,299 km

Merchant marine

Total: 123 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,095,383 GRT/5,044,249 DWT
By type: barge carrier 2, bulk carrier 33, cargo 22, chemical tanker 2, container 35, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 16, refrigerated cargo 8, roll on/roll off 2
Foreign-owned: 3 (Hong Kong 3)
Registered in other countries: 450 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 2, Gibraltar 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 8, Italy 10, Liberia 68, Malta 1, Panama 302, Philippines 2, Singapore 49, UK 1, US 1, unknown 2) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung


Involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants.

Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan's claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan's unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting.    

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Brunei - Burma - Cambodia - China - East Timor - Hong Kong - Indonesia - Japan - Macau - Malaysia - North Korea -Philippines - Russia - Singapore - South Korea - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam

Further Reading

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