Tantalising Taiwan Spanning 3,6000 square

Taiwan tourism bureau is promoting 12 local festivals in 2003.

kilometers Taiwan is shaped like a tobacco leaf that is narrow at both ends. The island lies on the southeastern part of mainland Asia, in between the Taiwan Straits and Mainland China. To the north lies Japan and Okinawa.

Taiwan's geographical position makes it an ideal stopover destination for airlines flying to other parts of East Asia.

"Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore are Taiwan's main target markets," said an official at the Taiwan tourism bureau. "Although we do get tourists from all over the world, a majority comes from Asia."

The Taiwan tourism bureau has developed a "Doubling of Tourist Arrivals Plan" which aims at securing a steady growth of tourist numbers over the next six years. "We hope that by 2008 a sustainable 'Island of Tourism' is built. We also hope to double the number of visitor arrivals to five million that year," said the official.

And there's a lot to see in Taiwan in 2003. "The tourism bureau is promoting 12 large-scale local festivals, at the rate of one a month. The festivals, we hope, will highlight the unique features and characteristics of the Chinese and aboriginal ethnic groups that inhabit the island," said the official.

Plus, for the business traveller, there's always the Taipei International Travel Fair, held in November every year, which is one of the largest travel fairs in Asia.

Lying on the western edge of the Pacific "rim of fire," the continuous tectonic movements have created Taiwan's majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, basins, coastlines, and other wonders.

Taiwan sees climates of many types: tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate; one is also able to experience the different seasons distinctively.

There are about 18,400 species of wildlife on the island, with more than 20 per cent belonging to rare or endangered species, among these are Sakura salmon, Taiwan mountain goat, Formosan monkey, Formosan black bear, blue magpie, royal pheasant, Hsuehshan's grass lizard etc.

The government has established six national parks and 11 national scenic areas to preserve Taiwan's natural ecological environment and culture relics.

Tourists can also take a ride on the Alishan train - one of only three mountain railways in the world - and experience the sunset and sea of clouds; hike up to the summit of North Asia's highest peak, Jade Mountain.

The cultural aspects of Taiwan are also not to be missed.

The blending of hakka, Taiwanese, and mainland cultures has produced a rich plethora of cultural and social colors.