What is the terrain and geography like in Taiwan?
Named "Ihla Formosa", or Beautiful Island, by the Portuguese, Taiwan is a land of contrasts. It has everything from industrial towns and cities to rural towns and spectacular mountain vistas, from centuries old Confucian ceremonies to modern music and chaotic traffic to friendly people willing to help a stranger.
Taiwan is a small island 394 kilometers (245 miles) long and 144 kilometers (89.5 miles) wide at its broadest point, and includes a number of smaller islands. Foothills and mountains covering over two thirds of the island. Yu Shan (Jade Mountain), Taiwan's highest peak at 3952 meters, is taller than Japan's Mount Fuji.
Taiwan is very active geologically, sitting as it does at the juncture of the Philippine and Eurasian tectonic plates. Steam vents and hot sulfur springs abound. Earthquakes are a common occurrence in Taiwan.
Geography - note
strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
The Tropic of Cancer bisects the island, so the climate is sub-tropical with temperatures ranging from 12 to 35 degrees Celsius (54-95 degrees Fahrenheit).
Northern Taiwan has two long seasons (summer & winter) and two short seasons (spring and autumn).
Spring, mid-March to mid-May, is mostly sunny and mild with brief spells of cloudy skies and rain showers. Spring's average daily temperature is 17-25C or 62-77F. Summer, mid-May through late September, is hot with an average rainfall of 10 inches a month, mostly from afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Autumn, late September to early November, is characterized by mild temperatures and afternoon showers. Winter, November through mid-April, is characterized by low cloud drizzle, fog, and occasional winds.
The daily temperatures range between 17 - 24 degrees C (62-75F) in November, dropping to 12 - 19C (54 - 66F) in January and then rising to 14 - 22C (57 - 72F) in March. Occasionally, the temperature drops below 1OC (50F), especially in mountainous areas.
The typhoon season usually starts in mid-June and lasts through October. An average of 12 typhoons form in the Western Pacific each year. The average daily temperature range in Taipei is 21 - 29C (70 - 84F) in May; 24 - 35C (75 - 95F) in July and August; 23 - 33C (73 - 91F) in September; and 20 - 27C (68 - 81F) in October.
Kaohsiung enjoys a milder, drier winter than Taipei, but summer temperatures average about the same.
As a result of its subtropical position and heavy rainfall, Taiwan's natural landscape is constantly green with varied hues of forest, shrubs, and coarse tropical grass. All but the peaks of the highest mountains are covered with vegetation.