Taiwan Ghost Towns
Taiwan is a very beautiful but very confusing country, one of its first colonisers, the Portuguese, gave the island its second name, Ilha Formosa, meaning ‘Beautiful Island’ and it has a third name too, ‘The Republic of China’. Now you’re going to ask
‘I thought the Republic of China was that great big country just a little to the left of Taiwan/Formosa/Republic of China.’
Well you’d almost be right because that’s the ‘People’s Republic of China’. Confused? Well it gets worse.
After 1950 Taiwan, called itself the Republic of China and was one of the founding nations of the UN Security Council whereas ‘The People’s Republic of China’ wasn’t. PROC said that Taiwan (ROC) was part of PROC but then little Taiwan (ROC) said that the massive nation of PROC with its billions of people was theirs and they’d better accept it! Cue lots of tiffs and no result still today. Taiwan still tries to irritate PROC by labelling anything it makes ‘Made in ROC’
The country itself is by part stunningly beautiful and by part horrifyingly ugly. The high mountains that make it the fourth highest island in the world and the plunging mist filled river valleys take your breath away, but then so does the choking smog and pollution of its industrial centres and cities.
You can rise above all this by climbing the Taipei 101 tower which until 2010 was the world’s tallest building (Still ugly though!)
It’s quite densely populated on average nearly 700 people live in each square kilometre. The people are friendly and call themselves not ‘Taiwanese (or Chinese thankfully!) but ‘The Children of the Sweet Potato’ – a reference to the shape of the island and a staple food crop grown there.
So what about the ghost towns? From such a strange place you’d expect something strange and you’d be right. Taiwan is a boom or bust economy, one of the original ‘tiger’ economies it has slumped into recession in recent years and this has created abandoned industrial areas and created poverty where once there were riches.