Taiwan is situated in the Pacific Ocean about 160km from the southeastern coast of China. Located about midway between Korea and Japan to the north and Hong Kong and Phillipines to the south, Taiwan is a natural gateway to and within Asia. The principal city of Taiwan is Taipei, which since 7 December 1949 has been the provisional capital of the Republic Of China.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, although many people also speak local dialects, particularly in the South. Many people can also speak a little English, but it helps to have a basic knowledge of Mandarin.
Taiwan's climate is subtropical, with an average annual temperature of around 23C rising to 35C in the summer. Lightweight clothing should be worn for most of the year, with sweaters and coats needed only in the winter.
Taiwan is a shopper's paradise - you can buy anything at any time of the day or night. There are many large shopping centers including department stores and supermarkets, which are very convenient for getting anything you need, as well as the traditional markets.
Nightlife is great. There are many pubs, discos and night markets to visit. There is also a wide variety of restaurants including Western, Thai, Indian etc, although the local cuisine is much cheaper. In many cases, eating out is as cheap as eating at home.
Taiwan has undergone a rapid economic transformation during recent years, and for this reason some of the infrastructure is still catching up, such as the roads which are often crowded and slow moving. Having said that, Taiwan has succesfully achieved a high rate of economic growth that has helped to provide its citizens with one of the highest living standards in Asia.