Taipei, China (Taiwan)

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The capital of Taiwan, Taipei has grown rapidly in the last half century. To its inhabitants, Taipei is the capital of a country—the Republic of China—but to most of the rest of the world it is the capital of a Chinese province. Yet despite the small, and declining, number of resident foreign diplomats, Taipei, with its government buildings and parliament, still feels like a capital city.


Taipei is a young city by Chinese standards. The site was originally a lake, fished by members of a native Taiwanese people, thought to have originated in the Pacific islands. In 1790 a farmer from the mainland established a farm in what is now central Taipei. Other Chinese followed and within a generation the former lake basin was well-populated by mainland Chinese. Several rival communities were founded by immigrants from different parts of the mainland. In 1853 rivalry turned to violence and one group fled a short distance north to establish a new community on the banks of the...

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