Taiwan, or the Republic of China, is one of Asia's industrial powerhouses, but its diverse natural assets and cultural attractions make it a draw for visitors as well. This small island nation is located southeast of the coast of mainland China with an eastern shore that rims the Pacific Ocean. Much of the island is lush forestland, but the topography includes picturesque mountains, rice fields, and balmy beaches.
Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949 during the Communist takeover and creation of the People's Republic of China, when leader Chiang Kai-shek moved his government to Taipan. Since then, Taiwan has remained an independent, self-governing nation (though China disputes its political status and continues to press for reconciliation).
Popular things to do in Taiwan include a stay in lively, high-tech Taipei and visits to its colorful street markets; tours of historic temples and museums; stays in mountain resorts (with popular hiking trails) and tropical beaches; and drives through national forests.