Taiwan is an island off the coast of mainland China with one of the highest population densities in the world. Expats moving to Taiwan are equally likely to notice that it's very mountainous, home to the tallest peak in northeast Asia, and has an abundance of nature reserves and hot springs.
Taiwan has ultra-modern cities that still strongly uphold traditional Chinese culture while at the same time embracing a capitalist business culture that appeals to Western expats. As a result, many new arrivals find that the lifestyle in Taiwan is highly convenient as goods are easily accessible and both the public transport and healthcare are excellent.
Taiwanese are extremely friendly, helpful and gracious people. They will generally go out of their way to make visitors feel at ease. They pride themselves on being good hosts. Expats may find themselves asking a stranger for directions and end up being personally escorted and then being invited home for dinner. The language barrier is no obstacle to this hospitality and willingness to assist as many can speak English.
The main religions in Taiwan are Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism and almost all Taiwanese pay homage to their ancestors. Homes have sacred shrines where people can burn incense and make offerings to ancestors. Beautiful temples are found throughout the cities, but churches and mosques are also easy to find.
The cost of living in Taiwan is generally high. Accommodation, which mostly consists of apartment living, can be expensive. Taiwan's main industries include electronics, industrial processing, and information and communications technologies. Expats looking to work in these industries should be highly qualified, as Taiwanese companies tend to employ qualified local workers. Due to this, expats looking to work in Taiwan tend to transfer to the country from within an international company. Otherwise, many young Westerners move to Taiwan to teach English.
Taiwan has a problematic relationship with China, mostly as China insists that Taiwan is a province of China. While many cultural traditions of the Taiwanese stem from a long history with China, the majority of Taiwanese see their country as autonomous and have no wish to unify with China. This is a sore point and the reason behind the rocky political relationship with the mainland.
Taiwan is incredibly safe. Foreigners moving to the country are unlikely to be affected by political tensions. In fact, those living there enjoy Taiwan's cultural richness, modern amenities and the country's embrace of the wider world.
Official name: Republic of China
Population: Over 23 million
Capital city: Taipei
Neighbouring countries: China, Japan and the Philippines
Geography: Taiwan is an island and is characterised by a contrast between rugged mountains, which run in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling Chianan Plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population.
Political system: Semi-presidential republic
Major religions: Buddhism and Taoism
Main languages: Mandarin (official), Taiwanese Hokkein and English (mostly in Taipei)
Money: The New Taiwan Dollar (TWD), which is divided into 100 cents
Tipping: Tipping is not standard, although it's unlikely to be refused if offered. Baggage handlers at hotels and the airport will accept loose change. Hotels and restaurants typically add a 10 percent service charge to the bill.
Time: GMT +8
Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60Hz. 'Type A' two-pin plugs with flat blades and 'Type B' three-pin plugs with two flat blades and a grounding pin are commonly used.
Internet domain: .tw
International dialling code: +886
Emergency contacts: 110 (police), 119 (ambulance and fire)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right. Taiwan has an extensive public transport system that is easily accessible and reliable.
"Taiwan is my second home, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to experience a different part of the world with ease." Read Nick's thoughts on expat life in Taiwan.
"I wouldn’t say that I had culture shock because Taiwanese people are extremely kind and welcoming, but the biggest adjustment was the language." Learn more about Melanie's expat experiences in Taiwan.
Are you an expat living in Taiwan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taiwan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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