Taiwan is presented to the world as a democracy which it is not. The Taiwanese, who constitute 85 percent of the eighteen million residents, have only 10 percent of the representation in national legislative bodies. Martial law has been in effect for more than a third of a century, ever since Chiang Kai-shek fled from Mainland China in 1949. Under the military rule established, the island has prospered. Its per capita income of $2,350 is the third highest in Asia.
When being forced out of Mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek and his troups thoughtfully removed a goodly share of China’s art treasures. Today many of them, in fact ten thousand pieces, are on display at the National Palace Museum in the mountain suburbs of Taipei. Moreover, upwards of 200,000 Chinese treasures are stored in air-conditioned caves located behind the museum. English-language tours of the palace are conducted daily at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
New Park, one block from the Presidential Building in the center of Taipei, contains the Taiwan Provincial Museum, which houses a collection of life-size statues of Taiwan’s several aboriginal tribespeople.
Taipei’s coffee shops usually have an English menu.
Taiwan offers a range of accommodation, from youth hostel to luxury hotel. Tatami rooms, where floor mats are used as beds, are a novelty for the western visitor, and are inexpensively priced.
About 1.4 million people visit Taiwan each year and leave approximately $1 billion while there. One-half of the visitors come from Japan. Hong Kong supplies 16 percent. Ninety percent of American visitors go for business reasons.
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