Wu Chi, Taiwan ROC

Wu Chi, Taiwan

Wu Chi Town (population 46,533), called Chu Fa Hseuh in ancient times, is located on a secluded coast. The name has changed several times as the population increased and finally became a village. The town is located on the brink of the Taiwan Strait in the west, with neighbors Sha Lu Town, Ching Shui Town and Lung Ching Hsiang.

Wu Chi Town has a dry climate, with a monsoon season that lasts two months during the last part of summer or early autumn. The town is 2.75 miles in length from north to south and 2.33 miles in width from east to west.

The religious beliefs are largely Taoism, with a mixture of Christianity.

Wu Chi Town connects with the main north-south railway and the main highway of Taiwan. The town is located near Taichung Harbor, a key international shipping port. Some of the main products passing through Taichung Harbor are fertilizer, wheat and palm oil.

Province of Taiwan, Republic of China

The Republic of China (ROC), founded on January 1, 1912, was the first constitutional republic in Asia.

During its first 35 years, the young republic was embroiled in civil wars and suffered from foreign encroachment. It was not until 1946, one year after the end of World War II, that the ROC's National Constitutional Assembly was able to write the ROC Constitution.

The ROC covers a total area of 4,408,578 square miles. Nanking is its official capital. In 1949, after the communists occupied the Chinese mainland, the ROC government moved to Taiwan and set up a provisional capital in Taipei.

Geography: The province of Taiwan is an island off the south-east coast of mainland China that straddles the Tropic of Cancer. The water separating the mainland and Taiwan is called the Taiwan Straits. The island is 394 km long and 144 km. across at its widest point with an area of nearly 36,000 sq. km. The land is mountainous with scarcely a third being arable, and there are 151 rivers throughout the island. There is, however, more useful level land in Taiwan than there is in Japan or the Philippines, because the level sediments on the west coast been built up by deposits from all of Taiwan's rivers. The result has been 15 to 30 km. of extended land from the foothills. This land has natural resources and great agricultural potential.

Government: In 1947, the Taiwan Provincial Government was established to take the place of the Office of the Governor General, which was created after the Japanese returned Taiwan to Chinese control in 1945. Until l994 the governor, head of the provincial government. was nominated by the Premier and appointed by the president of the Republic after confirmation by the Taiwan Provincial Assembly. 1994 was the first popular election for governor, and James C.Y. Soong won that election. The Governor has two deputies, one to handle administrative affairs and one to handle the political affairs.

Overall, the Provincial Government resembled state governments in the U.S., and the relationship among the province, county and city governments were also similar to those in the U.S. However, in July of this year, an amendment to the constitution was passed which virtually eliminates the provincial government. Now, the governors and the provincial assembly deputies will be appointed by the cabinet. They can no longer veto the President's choice of Prime Minister. They can only pass a vote of no confidence.

Cities: Because of their populations, economic strength, and high level of development in other areas, the Taiwan Province does not have jurisdiction over Taipei and Kaohsiung. Although geographically, they are located on Taiwan Province, these cities answer directly to the government of the Republic of China. For an American, the best way to describe the situation would to compare these cities to Washington DC, in that Washington DC. is a city which does not belong to any state (Maryland, Virginia), but is under the direct jurisdiction of the United States government. However, the reason for Washington DC's status is different from those of Taipei's and Kaoshiung's.

Language: The national language is Mandarin. However, there are many other different dialects in China. For the most part they are so mutually unintelligible that they could be considered different languages. Many people in the Republic of China speak a dialect called Taiwanese. The dialect breakdown goes even further. Even within the small area of the Republic of China on Taiwan, Mandarin, itself, has many different regional variations. This is because of the influence of the native dialect . However, the difference between these Mandarin variations are not even as noticeable as those between British and American English.

Religion: There is complete freedom of religion in the Republic of China on Taiwan. The society is dominated by ancestor worship and the Religions of Taoism and Buddhism, but the Chinese religious Outlook accommodates seemingly contradictory religious beliefs simultaneously. The Chinese seldom find it necessary to exclude aspects of other faiths from their spiritual beliefs. There are currently 12 popular religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism. Protestantism, Hsuan-yuan Chiao, Islam, Li-ism, Tenrikyo, Baha'i Faith, Tjen Dih Chiao, Tien Te Chiao, and Ikuan Tao.

Main Agricultural: The crops most harvested in 1995 were rice, bananas, corn, sugar cane, betel nuts, peanuts, bamboo shoots, tea, mangoes, and watermelon. Rice is the number one crop in Taiwan. However. with the ROC's pending acceptance into the WTO (World Trade Organization), many farmers are moving away from traditional crops which cannot be competitively farmed in an unprotected market. Instead they are branching out into horticulture, agritourism, exotic fruits and vegetables, chemical-free organic produce, new cultivators, and other high value products. One of Taiwan's agricultural strengths is the number of different fruits grown on the island. Fruit is very popular and Taiwan is home to many different varieties of exotic fruit.

Industries: Industries such as the production of processed foods, textiles , garments, leather products, and wood and bamboo products once dominated Taiwan's exports. Now, these labor-intensive industries are being replaced by capital and technology-intensive industries such as chemicals, petrochemica1s, electrical equipment, information technology, and electronics. In 1995, the major export were as follows: approximately 45% -- electrical machinery and equipment, approximately 15% -- textiles, approximately 10% -- basic metals, approximately 5% -- transportation equipment.

Transportation: Taiwan is currently taking measures to improve its transportation systems. Its railway system has 4 types of passenger service. First class is the fastest, only stopping at major stations, and the fourth class or local class stops at every stop and yields to the higher classes. There are two underground railway lines, and an east-west expressway is currently under construction there. The eastern railways are being upgraded to meet the goal of if industrializing the east coast. Taiwan has 5 international harbors: Keelung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Taichung, and Suao. Oceanic transportation is essential for Taiwan's economy, which relies a great deal upon trade. There are two international airports on Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport. There are also several domestic airports. Because there are 13.4 million vehicles and 21.3 million people on Taiwan, the roadways are often congested. There are projects aimed at solving this problem.

Scenic and Vacation Areas: North of Taipei is the Yangmingshan National Park. On the north coast west of Keelung are rock formations called the "wild willows". The coast east of Keelung has been reserved as the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area. This is one of the most beautiful areas on the island. Central Taiwan is mountainous with beautiful snowy peaks, hot springs, rivers, forests, and lakes. The east is full of unspoiled beauty as well with sites such as the Taroko Gorge and the East Coast National Scenic Area. There are a large number of temples, museums, historic landmarks, and markets in Taiwan. The Nationia1 Palace Museum in Taipei has the largest collection of Chinese art treasures in the world. It is home to artwork spanning 5 thousand years of China's history.

Recreation: Because of the traffic problems, many people in Taiwan prefer to stay close to home. Therefore, going out to eat and to bars are the most common form of entertainment. However, there are numerous places to camp, fish, hike, mountain climb, scuba dive, and golf. For a night out, there are numerous karaoke parlors, bowling, alleys, discos, bars, and for an alternative, western-style coffee houses. A lot of westerners can be found at these places, which even have Western-style ( rock, country, etc.) bands playing.

All of the above information is taken from (1) pamphlet published by Jason C. Hu-June, 1995, and (2) "The Republic of China Yearbook 1997" ROC Government Information Office, Taipei, 1997.