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Country Reports

Taiwan Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Barring any contentious political issues with neighboring mainland China, travel to the prosperous island of Taiwan (population 23.3 million) should pose few risks for foreign visitors, although no member of the European Union has diplomatic relations with this island "rebel province," as it is referred to by Beijing.

POLITICS

Despite the recent and historic resumption of dialogue between Taiwan and China in May 2008 and a détente that has since developed between the two, relations remain fragile and political tensions are perpetually high (anti-Chinese demonstrations are regularly held, e.g. in late July 2013; members of the "Sunflower Student Movement" took to the streets of Taipei in early April 2014).

On January 15, 2016, the opposition (pro-independence; Democratic Progressive Party) won the general elections (presidential and legislative). This win created an unpalatable situation for Beijing, whose interests are more aligned with Taiwan's nationalist party, Kuomintang. In early May 2016, the new head of state Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) took office. Since then, diplomatic ties between Taiwan and China have worsened, with Beijing resisting any mention of independence and demanding Taiwan abide by the "One China Policy". Tsai, however, asked Beijing to recognize Taiwan as the Republic of China, the island's official name according to Taipei. In early December 2016, the President Tsai Ing-wen had a telephone conversation with Donald Trump a month before he took office as president, an unprecedented act that exasperated Beijing and reflected on the (already) sensitive relationship between Taipei and Beijing.

As of late February 2017, Tsai had the lowest level of support ever in opinion polls, suggesting that her interactions with Chinese authorities (and the specter of economic sanctions) and socioeconomic reforms have created more discomfort and hostility than satisfaction among the populace. 

The next elections are due to take place in 2020.

NATURAL RISKS

Travelers should be aware that the island of Taiwan is located in a zone highly vulnerable to natural disasters (typhoons, floods, earthquakes). The rainy season (monsoon season) extends from June until October and often brings typhoons. In August 2009, Typhoon Morakot devastated the island and left 700 dead. On September 14, 2016, southeast Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Meranti, the most powerful storm in over two decades.

Seismic activity also poses a significant risk. A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck Tainan (south) in February 2016, resulting in some 100 casualties. A magnitude-6.8 earthquake that struck in 1999 tragically killed 2400 people and left 100,000 others homeless.

HEALTH

In 2015, a dengue fever epidemic inflicted the south of the island (Tainan and Kaohsiung). No malaria has been reported in the country.

Health infrastructures are of good quality and staffed with well-trained health professionals.

TRANSPORTATION

Finally, travelers to the island of Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, should also note that mountain roads are often narrow, winding, and poorly marked. Furthermore, taxi drivers generally speak little to no English; in order to save time and avoid misunderstandings, have your destination(s) written out in Chinese characters.

Climate

Taiwan has a tropical climate and is regularly exposed to monsoons. The summer lasts from May until September, with temperatures averaging 28°C. In the winter, from December to February, the average temperature is 18°C. Monsoon season lasts from June until October.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +255 Police: 110 Fire Dept., Ambulance: 119

Electricity

Voltage: 110 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

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