10 surprising facts about Taiwan: Telegraph

Telegraph lists 10 lesser-known facts about Taiwan

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Chung Tai Chan Monastery. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

Chung Tai Chan Monastery. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Telegraph last Wednesday (March 28) released a list of 10 surprising facts about the Taiwan many in the West may not be aware of.

In its list titled "Top 10 | Things you didn't know about Taiwan," the British newspaper lists a number of lesser-known facts and figures about Taiwan as the country seeks to attract more visitors from Western countries.

10. Free Wi-Fi

In 2011, Taiwan became one of the first countries to offer free Wi-Fi to its citizens and in 2013 it extended the service to tourists. It now boasts over 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots established in indoor public areas and is also accessible in all 117 Metro stations in Taipei and New Taipei.

9. Modern Toilet Restaurant


(Photo by Modern Toilet Restaurant)

As the name indicates, Modern Toilet Restaurant is a bathroom-themed restaurant chain. Meals are served out of mini-commodes, drinks are delivered in miniature urinals, while desert is provided in what looks like a squat toilet. Having launched in 2004, the restaurant has been so successful that it now has 11 outlets in Taiwan and China.

8. The "bling" Chung Tai Chan Monastery


Chung Tai Chan Monastery. (Photo by flickr user Margaret Maloney)

What the Telegraph describes as a "bling monastery," the Chung Tai Chan Monastary (​中台禪寺) is a massive Buddhist temple in Nantou County's Puli Township. Built in 2001, it was the world's tallest Buddhist building until 2006 and still holds the title as the world's tallest Buddhist temple.

7. A world leader in billionaires


Foxconn CEO Terry Gou. (CNA image)

The Telegraph cites the 2016 Forbes list of billionaires which had Taiwan in 18th place with 25. However, in Forbes' latest list, released in March of this year, Taiwan now has 35 billionaires.

The top 10 Taiwanese richest tycoons were: Terry Gou (net worth US$8.5 billion, world's No. 181), Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) of snack food company Want Want China (net worth US$6.8 billion, world's No.242), Lin Yu-lin (林堉璘) of Hong Tai Group (net worth US$5.8 billion, world's No. 305), Barry Lam (林百里) of Quanta Computer (net worth US$3.9 billion, world's No. 572), Samuel Yin (尹衍樑) of Ruentex Group (net worth 3.7 billion, world's No. 606), Luo Jye (羅結) of Cheng Shin Rubber Ind. Co., Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠) and Richard Tsai (蔡明興) of Fubon Financial Holding Co., Tsai Hong-tu (蔡宏圖) of Cathay Financial Holding Co., Pierre Chen (陳泰銘) of electronics component maker Yageo.

Foxconn's Gou was most recently in the news in the U.S. after he signed to biggest development deal in Wisconsin's history to build LED screen manufacturing facilities in the state's Racine County.

6. High number of tea drinkers


(Photo courtesy of vhines200/FLICKR)

According to an article by the Telegraph, the average Taiwanese citizen consumes 1.85 kilograms of tea a year, putting the country in 17th place in the world. Taiwan trails only Macao for the top spot in East Asia, while the overall winner was Paraguay at 12.22 kilograms per capita per year.

5. Tenth most "Starbucks-saturated" place in world


Screenshot image from Starbucks Taiwan website.

According to the International Coffee Organization, despite all the tea drinking, Taiwan is also 10th in the world in terms of Starbucks branches per capita at 16.74 stores per million people. In fact, Starbucks is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary in Taiwan with a special exhibition at Taipei's Huashan 1914 Creative Park which is running from March 17 to April 12.

4. One of cheapest places to get Big Mac


Big Mac. (Wikimedia Commons image)

According to the Big Mac index for 2018 listed by Statista, Taiwan actually has the fourth cheapest Big Macs in the world at only US$2.30, and trails only Russia, Egypt and Urkraine, where the sandwich can be had for a mere US$1.6. The Big Mac index was first started in 1986 as way to measure a given country's purchasing power.

The Big Mac prices for each country are calculated based on purchasing power parity and converted into U.S. dollars.

3. "Gnarly railway"


Alishan tourist train during cherry blossom season. (Wikimedia commons photo)

The Telegraph highlighted the fact that Taiwan possess both the historic narrow gauge Alishan Forest Railway, which was opened in 1912 and therefore celebrated its 106 year anniversary this year, while the country also has the High-Speed Rail (HSR) line which links most of the country's major cities from north to south.

Last year, Taiwan's HSR saw a network expansion, with the northern terminus moved from Taipei Main Station to Nangang (南港), while three new stations along the route, Miaoli (苗栗), Changhua(彰化), and Yunlin (雲林), brought the total number to twelve.

2. Death penalty


Cheng Chieh (left). (CNA image)

Though human rights groups such as the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty have been calling for an end to the practice, there currently 43 inmates on Taiwan's death row. Over the past two years, the number of executions per year seemed to have dropped, with zero executions taking place in 2017 and so far this year.

There was five-year moratorium placed on executions in the country from 1995 to 2010. The most recent was that of Cheng Chieh, who was shot three times by a firing squad in 2016 for the 2014 Taipei Metro attack, which resulted in four deaths and 24 injuries.

1. Taipei 101 once tallest in world with fastest elevator


Taipei 101. (Wikimedia Commons image)

From 2004 to 2010 Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world, until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai captured the title in 2010. It currently ranks as the 10th tallest building in the world.

Visitors to Taipei 101 will find themselves being rocketed from the fifth floor to the 89th floor in only 37 seconds, which is a speed of 60.6 kilometers per hour (37.6 miles per hour), or 1,010 meters per minute. It was the fastest elevator in the world when it was built in 2007, though according to Guinness World Records, the fastest elevator in the world currently is in the Shanghai Tower which shoots up at a speed of 73.8 kilometers per hour (45.8 miles per hour).


View inside Taipei 101 elevator. (Wikimedia Commons image)