The “Beautiful Formosa” You are Pursuing

The name “Taiwan,” meaning “terraced bay,” was first used in 1430 by Admiral Cheng Ho of the Ming court. In the 16th century, the Portuguese named the island “Ilha Formosa” meaning “Beautiful Island.” The name Formosa was used until the end of WWII. Situated between northern and southern Asia, Taiwan has long played a crucial role in trade and politics. Taiwan’s location brought frequent invasions, but also provided the conditions needed for a modern, prosperous and democratic country.

The culture of Taiwan is a blend of modern and traditional, national and international, unique and universal. Due to Taiwan’s complex political history, the influences of indigenous culture, Confucianism, Japan, and Western civilization all can be seen at the same time. The Japanese occupation of Taiwan from 1895 to 1945 influenced language, culture, and architecture. Visitors can still find a Japanese-style mansion and hear old Japanese songs emanating from nearby taverns.

Taiwan’s aboriginal culture is unique and has started to flourish since the Ami chant “Jubilant Drinking Song” was sampled in a song to promote the 1996 Olympics. However, the dominant culture in Taiwan is still Chinese. Immigrants from mainland China, especially those who arrived in 1949, after civil war, brought Confucianism and Chinese culture to Taiwan. The National Palace Museum has an outstanding collection of 650,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts brought from the Forbidden City, making it a major attraction for visitors. Visitors also will see ornate temples and traditional Chinese characters.

In Taiwan, where it seems the people live to eat, it is said that there is a snack shop every three steps and a restaurant every five. Foods and dishes from around the world are available in Taiwan. However, Taiwan's native cuisine, which has gained worldwide attention, is unforgettable - try it just once and you will remember it forever. Memorable dishes include: Pearl Milk Tea, Danzai Noodles, Shrimp Pork Soup, Oyster Omelet, Meat Rice Tamales, Stinky Tofu, Taiwanese Meatballs, Coffin Sandwich, Veggie and Meat Wrap, Oyster Vermicelli, Steamed Sandwich, and Crushed Ice Dessert.