By Cyril Nwabueze Mbubaegbu
Taiwan can be described as the land of beauty. No wonder the early Portuguese explorers referred to it as “Formosa” in the 16th century. It is actually its dramatic and fertile beauty that has made Taiwan an attractive hub to foreign powers such as the Portuguese as well as the Spanish, Japanese and Dutch. All of these tried their hands at colonial rule, and more recently, tourists who are just starting to learn of its attractions.
Taiwan is a strategically located Island in the East of Asia (where the East meets with the West), and this is why it is referred to as the heart of Asia as one of its promotional themes. Taiwan underwent political and economic developments at different stages like so many other countries in the world. In the areas of language, the following languages can be found in Taiwan: Taiwanese, Mandarin, Hakka, indigenous and English, so also it is in the various religion practised which include, Buddhism, Taoism, Traditional belief, Non-believers, christianity and others.
Thanks to the political situation during the later half of the 20th century, you will see more of traditional culture in Taiwan than the mainland. Taiwan never went through a revolution of cultural sterilization and has consciously preserved unbroken cultural heritage which dates back in the mists of history long before the written word arrived on the Island.
Taiwan can be referred to as the custodian of world class Asian Art, this you can find in Taipei’s National Palace Museum located in Waishuanghsi neighborhood of the shihlin district. It ranks as one of the four best Museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts, about 700,000 items in all. However, the Museum only has 15,000 spaces to display items at any given time; the majority of the treasures are kept well protected in air-conditioned vaults buried deep in the mountainside. The displays are rotated once every three months, which means 60,000 pieces, can be viewed in a year and it would take nearly 12 years to see them all. Furthermore, the collection continues to grow through donations and purchases. Some of the oldest artifacts in the collection of the museum are pieces of prehistoric pottery over 5,000 years old.
It will also interest you to know that Taipei 101, formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, is a landmark skyscraper located in xinyi district, Taipei Taiwan. The building ranked officially as the world’s tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj khalifa in Dubai in 2010. In July 2011, the building was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) platinum certificate, the highest award in LEED rating system, however, became the tallest and largest green building in the world.
Another magnificent scene of Taipei 101 is the New Year’s Eve fireworks; the annual firework shows which is preceded by the sequential display of numerals in light on each section to count down the last eight seconds to midnight. Since 2007, the building has been completely darkened, then fireworks begin to launch sequentially from the lower to upper sections hence producing multiple colour rays emanating from the building. It is a sight to behold by tourists and nationals.
Again, at Taichung in central Taiwan, is another memorable place to be. The Sheipa National Park is situated in the location. The park covers an area of 76,859 hectares on the central Taiwan range slightly to the north of central Taiwan. It is a region of magnificent mountains, within the park are fifty one (51) peaks over three thousand meters (3,000 meters) high. The park contains mostly wild and undeveloped country side with a range of wildlife that includes many rare and endemic species. The park was founded to protect and study this splendid wilderness, maintaining the natural environment and all the forms of life it includes. Thus conservation is the first priority for Sheipa National Park, and a large proportion of its land is set apart as Ecological Protection Area (EPA).
Tainan is a southern city and very unlike the north’s Taipei. It is known for its extraordinary concentration of over a quarter of the island’s listed cultural site and over 150 temples. So much also you will enjoy the more leisurely approach to life enjoyed here, and discover the spiritual and cultural root of Taiwan. As one moves around the city, you will see myriad remnants from its rich history, vital signs of its cultural roots intertwining with modern shade filled parks and booming commercial concentrations.
As part of my journey to Taiwan, I have realized that Taiwan stands today as a vibrant ‘’Beacon of Democracy’’ and Asian economic hub. It is one of the safest and best economies in the world. An economic overview of Taiwan with the rest of the world shows the strength of Taiwan. The Taiwan quick industrialization and rapid growth in the later half of the 20th century is referred to as “Taiwan miracle”, thus Taiwan is one of the four Asian Tigers.
•Mbubaegbu writes from Abuja