Culture and Heritage

During its long history, prehistoric people, aborigines, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and Han Chinese have successively populated Taiwan, creating a varied culture and developing different local customs and traditions along the way. When visiting Taiwan, you will be able to come in touch with all aspects of this beautiful island's multifaceted culture!

Because of its unique historical and geographical background, Taiwan has a rich and versatile culture composed of elements taken from many different ethnic groups, including the Aborigines, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Japanese, the Han-Chinese (bringing traditions from Mainland China and creating their own in Taiwan), as well as more recently the Americans. Consequently, customs and traditions that make up Taiwan's culture as we know it today are extremely vivid and cross different cultures. And not only that, the people that previously inhabited Taiwan also left many cultural remnants that can still be found around Taiwan to date, including traditional architecture, relics of past civilizations, folk art and traditions, etc. Taiwan's history goes as far back as two, three, even tens of thousands of years. According to archeologists, prehistoric people were the first to have lived in Taiwan, proof of which can be found in caves in Taitung.

The Aborigines came to Taiwan a long time ago. The Aboriginal People of Taiwan form the most northern branch of the Austronesian culture group, and can roughly be divided into Pingpu and Aboriginal races. The Aborigines can be divided into nine tribe], namely the Tsou (Chiayi, Kaohsiung, Nantou), the Saisiyat (Hsinchu, Miaoli), the Ami (Huatung and East Coast), the Atayal (Northern and Central Taiwan and mountainous regions in Northeastern Taiwan), the Paiwan (Pingtung, Taitung), the Bunun (Taitung, Hualien, Kaohsiung, Nantou), the Puyuma (Taitung County border), the Rukai (Pingtung, Taitung, Kaohsiung) and the Yami (Orchid Island). Over the years, the Pingpu increasingly came in contact with the Han-Chinese, their daily lives becoming more and more integrated, and by now most have assimilated with the Chinese. However, the different tribes have also managed to preserve some of their traditional customs, tribal structure and architecture, and continue to keep the tribal spirit alive through the engagement in traditional worship.

Traces left by the Dutch, Spanish and Japanese include Fort San Domingo in Tamshui and Anping Fort (Fort Zeelandia) in Tainan, but also many architectural structures, such as the Presidential, the Legislative Yuan and the Control Yuan buildings, various schools and other large structures that now house governmental institutions, assembly halls etc., forming the historical testimony to the importation of foreign cultures into Taiwan. Nevertheless, the most important part in Taiwan's cultural history was played by the Han-Chinese who brought with them traditional customs from Mainland China and created new ones in Taiwan. Whether they were Minnan-people, so-called "wai-sheng-ren" (people from outside the province) or Hakka-people, they all created their own culture, traces of which can still be found all over Taiwan. In Taipei, Tainan and Lukang for example, many old cities, streets and temples still breath the atmosphere of times long gone, while traces of wars, settlements and different cultures can even be found on the off-shore islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu.

Next to these cultural remnants, Taiwan also offers a unique collection of art expression, such as Sanyi's wooden carvings, Yinggo's pottery and Kinmen's ceramics factory. Another important aspect of culture are the many holidays and festivals that the Taiwanese celebrate so passionately and devotedly, such as Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Tomb Festival, the Festival of Dead Spirits and temple festivals. By watching or even participating in these celebrations, one can get a better understanding of the people's cultural background and the historical significance thereof. We would like to invite you to come to Taiwan, travel through time and go on a journey of past civilizations, relive the past by inhaling the typical atmosphere and going through these cultural treasures.

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Information provided by Tourism Bureau, Rep. of China.


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