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About Taiwan

The island Taiwan (officially The Republic of China) is a small state in East Asia, located south of the enormous superpower China. The size of Taiwan is comparable to the size of The Netherlands, but the population of Taiwan is 40% larger. Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  Taiwan is known for its high-tech industry which plays a key role in the global economy. Furthermore, Taiwan has a high ranking in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, economic freedom and human development. 

The island of Taiwan (formerly known as "Formosa") was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aboriginals. Since the 17th century ethnic Chinese began immigrating to the island. In 1683, the Qing Dynasty of China conquered Taiwan. After the Chinese-Japanese war in 1895, Taiwan became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese authority until the end of the Second World War, when Chinese authority returned. In 1949 about two million followers of the nationalistic party under Chiang Kaw-Shek fled from the mainland to Taiwan, because of the new founded Communist Party of China (People’s Republic of China). The Republic of China relocated its government to Taiwan, and its jurisdiction became limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands. Since then, international recognition of the Republic of China has gradually eroded as most countries switched recognition to the People’s Republic of China. Nowadays, only 21 UN member states recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state. 

The Taiwanese culture is very diverse. It is strongly influenced by the Chinese culture since the most inhabitants of Taiwan are from Chinese origin. But it is also strongly influenced by the aboriginals, who mainly live on the east side of Taiwan. They have their own languages, habits and religions. You may also recognize Japanese influences in Taiwanese culture. 

Taiwan is seen as one of the most successful upcoming economies in the world. Since 1962, the annual economy growth became around ten per cent. The government focused on reducing disparities between the rich and the poor and invested in education. Promising students were sent to the United States and after graduation they were required to return to Taiwan. These investments contributed to their knowledge economy nowadays.

The climate in Taiwan is subtropical and has two seasons. From May until September it is hot and humid and from October until March it is much colder. During summer, earthquakes and typhoons can appear. Fortunately Taiwan is well prepared for them!

Interesting facts

  • Taipei 101, or the Taipei Financial Center, is the world’s second tallest building after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
  • Taiwan is the 17th largest economy in the world and is one of the world’s leading producers of computers and computer related products.
  • Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are the three prevalent religions in Taiwan.

Studying in Taiwan

Academic year: from September – June (two semesters).

Studying in Taiwan is completely different than studying in the Netherlands. Taiwanese education has a more hierarchical character and is focused mainly on fact-based knowledge. It is not common to interrupt, criticize or discuss with teachers during lectures, as we are used to in the Netherlands. Taiwanese students are very motivated and work extremely hard for achieving high grades.

Teachers and students are very open-minded to foreign students. They are very welcoming, patient and polite. However, it is not wise to criticize the country, the teachers or other cultural aspects openly as we are used to do in the Netherlands. They will still be very polite, but they may feel offended. Of course, this differs a lot depending on where you will study: at an international university in the centre of Taipei they are more used to non-Asian students then in small villages in the countryside.

Taiwan’s universities differ in quality and not all universities offer English courses. However, eleven universities in Taiwan are ranked in the QS top 100 of best Asian universities. From all Taiwan universities the National Taiwan University in Taipei is highest ranked worldwide (#82). The student life in Taiwan is lively and varied, because of the growing international student population and the existing cultural diversity.

Practical matters

You can try to arrange an exchange together with your Dutch home university. You can also apply for the Taiwan Scholarship Program, which is established by the Taiwanese government. More information about this scholarship and the requirements you can find here.

Some universities offer English courses. However, if you want to apply to a program in Chinese, you are asked to proof your Chinese proficiency. Leiden University offers HSK exams (See here).

If you are participating in an exchange program, it is important to check whether your home university recognizes your credits. Also, foreign certificates may be treated differently. You can check this here. For more practical matters concerning Taiwan, click here.

Working in Taiwan

Taiwan has a continuously growing capitalist economy, marked by low unemployment rates, rising salaries and increasing output. Most foreigners moving to Taiwan are working at a (Western) multinational or as an English teacher.  In Taiwan, the office culture is different than in the Netherlands. The concept of “face”, meaning a person’s/company’s dignity and prestige is very important in Taiwan. For example, criticizing other workers in public is viewed as “to lose face”. In addition, hierarchy plays an important role in the Taiwanese working culture. The higher your position in the company, the more privileges you get.

Furthermore, the work ethic of Taiwanese employees is quite different form Dutch employees. Working (unpaid) overtime is normal in Taiwan. By working overtime for free, you show that you take care of the company.

Because of the growing economy, the traditional labour-intensive industries are replaced by more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has a strong Information Technology industry. Western companies are developing more and more of their products in Taiwan by moving their research and development department to Taiwan. Therefore, it is very interesting to work in this innovative country. But overall, the small disparity between poor and rich, the democratic society and the existence of (Western) freedoms make  Taiwan one of the most exciting countries in Asia to work and live in!

Facts about Taiwan

Population      23,299,716
Size    35.980 km²
Time zoneUTC+8
Language Mandarin
GDP per capita  $16,392,-

This page is not updated anymore. To learn more about studying in Taiwan and to search for study programmes in Asia, Europe and North America, visit BachelorsPortal, MastersPortal, PhDPortal or ScholarshipPortal.