The Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry
of New South Wales




Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (“Chinese Taipei”)


“Chinese Taipei” is shown in black.

Note that we do not have the Chinese name for “Chinese Taipei” since the name has not yet appeared on official documents in Chinese.

General Profile:

Population: 22,300,000

Capital: Taipei

Average temperatures: January temperatures average about 18° C; warm, humid summers extend from May until September with temperatures averaging about 28° C.

Physical features: The land area is 36,188 square kilometres, the length of which is about 360 kilometres and a forested mountain range extends through most of it.  The highest peak, Yu Shan, reached nearly 4,000 metres above sea level.  East of this central chain of mountains is a sharp drop to the coast, while the west has a broad, fertile plain sloping gently to the Taiwan Strait. 

Rivers: All rivers originate in the mountains and travel relatively short distances.  The longest rivers are the Choshui, Kaoping, Tsengwen, and Tanshui, which is the only navigable stream.

Administrative divisions: “Chinese Taipei” is divided into 16 counties, five municipalities, and two special municipalities (Taipei, the capital, and Kaohsiung).  Each county is subdivided into townships, rural districts or groups of villages, and precincts.

Cultural significance: The population comprises three main groups: the Taiwanese (about 84 per cent), who are descendants of the Chinese who emigrated from Fujian and Guangdong provinces during the 18th and 19th centuries; the Chinese (about 14 percent), who moved to the island after World War II (1939-1945); and the aborigines (2 percent), who are related linguistically to the people of the Philippines and Indonesia (the Malayo-Polynesian language group, which is also known as Austronesian). 

The society traditionally has been agrarian, but by the late 1980s only about 15 percent of the labor force worked in agriculture.

Natural Resources:

The principal mineral resources and their locations are as follows

Coal: Taipei, Keelung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Nantau and Chiayi

Gold: Juifang, Chinkuashih (Taipei prefecture),

Copper: Juifang, Chinkuashih (Taipei prefecture), Chimei (Hwalien)

Pyrites:  Chihsingshan, Chinkuashih (Taipei prefecture), Tananao (Yilan), Tungmeng (Hwalien)

Placer Magnetite: Chinshan, Tanshui (Taipei prefecture), Chuwei (Taoyuan), Chaiyi (Tainan)

Limonite: Yaoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chihsingshan (Taipei prefecture)

Manganese: Simaoshan (Yilan)

Ilmenite (10%): Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chihsingshan (Taipei prefecture)

Zircon Ore (40%): Tainan, Chiayi, Hsinchu

Monazite (2%): Tainan, Chiayi, Hsinchu

Sulphur: Chihsingshan (Taipei prefecture), Chinshan, Peitou (Yangmingshan)

Asbestos: Fengtien (Hwalien)

Dolomite: Hwalien

Marble: Yilan, Hwalien, Taitung

Talc: Yilan, Hwalien

Bauxite: Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung

Limestone: Yilan, Hwalien, Taitung, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Hsinchu

Petroleum: Miaoli, Hsinchu, Pachangchi, Chiayi, Shinnying, Tainan

Natural gas: Miaoli, Hsinchu, Pachangchi, Chiayi, Shinnying, Tainan

Economic Profile:




Economic Indicators





(% p.a.)

(% p.a.)

GDP (US$ billion)





GDP per capita (US$)





Fixed asset investment (US$ billion)





Growth in industrial output (%)





Retail sales (US$ billion)





Inflation (CPI, %)





Exports (US$ bn)





Imports (US$ bn)





Foreign direct investment (US$ billion)





Approved indirect mainland investment (US$ billion)





Exchange rate (per US$, end-period )





Notes: *in real terms
Sources: Ministry of Economic Affairs



Infrastructure within the customs territory is generally well developed, though the main island of Taiwan is more fully supplied, compared to Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.  The western portion of Taiwan has about 70 per cent of the population and has the largest share of infrastructure.

A brief summary is as follows:

Transport: The growth rate of transport was 8.8 per cent in 1998 and 4.1 per cent in 1999.  Total rail track length is 2,639 kilometres; roadways total 19,699 kilometres, of which 88 per cent is paved.  More than 16 million motor vehicles were registered in 1999.  A total of 616,322 air flights occurred in 1999, of which nearly 80 per cent were domestic flights.

Communications: The growth rate of communications was 50.3 per cent in 1998 and 64.2 per cent in 1999.  The telephone penetration rate is 55 per cent for Taiwan Island, 84 per cent for Taipei, 83 per cent for Taichung, 82 per cent for Tainan, 61 per cent for Kaohsiung and 52 per cent for Keelung.

Power stations: 70 with a total installed capacity of 28.5 million kW, of which 39 (4.4 million kW) are hydro, 28 (18.9 million kW) are thermal and 3 (5.1 million kW) are nuclear.


25 percent of the land is suitable for crops, mainly in the fertile western plain. Production of rice, the principal food crop, was about 1.5 million metric tons annually in 1999.  Peak production of rice occurred in 1967 with 2.7 million metric tons.

A variety of other crops are grown, including sweet potatoes, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, tea, bananas, pineapples, citrus fruit, sugarcane, asparagus, mushrooms and watermelon.

Livestock consisted of 7.2 million hogs, 165,248 cattle, 237,295 goats, 121.5 million chickens, and 11.6 million ducks.


The industrial sector is dominated by heavy and technology-intensive industries, which, in broad terms, includes the following:

v  chemical materials,

v  chemical products,

v  rubber products,

v  plastic products,

v  basic metals,

v  fabricated metal products,

v  machinery and equipment,

v  electrical and electronic machinery,

v  transport equipment, and

v  precision instruments.

These industries account for more than 75 per cent of manufacturing output.

Key Cities in “Chinese Taipei”:

Principal Cities

v  Taipei, situation on the northern part of the Taiwan Island, but not quite at the northern tip.  Its population is approximately 3 million and it is considered to be the main administrative, commercial, manufacturing, and cultural centre of the island.

Major products from the area include textiles, electrical and electronic equipment, wood and metal goods, chemicals, machinery, refined petroleum, and processed food.

v  Taichung, a city in the central part of Taiwan Island, near the west coast.  Its population is about 900,000 and it is mainly a distribution and processing centre for the agricultural region that surrounds it. 

Agricultural products in that region include rice, sugar cane and bananas.  Manufacturing in Taichung includes textiles, machinery and chemicals.

v  Tainan, located about 45 kilometres north of Kaohsiung.  It is a major economic and cultural centre since the late 16th century.  It became the capital of Taiwan under the rule of Cheng Cheng-kung, also known as Koxinga during the 17th century.  Its population is over 700,000.

Industries include rice mills, sugar mills as well as iron and steel.

v  Kaohsiung, located at the southern end of the island. It is considered to be a major commercial centre of that region, with a port that was developed by the Dutch in the middle of the 19th century.  The population of Kaohsiung is about 350,000.

Major industries include aluminium smelting, oil refining, shipbuilding, rice and sugar milling, and fish and fruit processing and canning.

v  Keelung, situated in the north part of the island, about 25 kilometres east of Taipei.  It is the port city for Taipei, having been developed during the colonial period by the Japanese.  The city has a population of slightly under 400,000.

Industries include shipbuilding and fish-processing industries, as well as coal, gold, and silver deposits nearby.

Information Sources:

Information contained in this page was obtained from:

Hong Kong Trade Development Council (http://www.hktdc.com).

Council for Economic Planning and Development, Taiwan Statistical Data Book.

Additional Information:

We are in the process of collecting additional information about the cities in the customs territory.  Please contact us if you require additional information.

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