Taiwan’s educational system was brought in line with mainland China’s in 1945 when the island reverted to Chinese rule. Today, the system in Taiwan is a comprehensive blend of Chinese and American educational systems, which comprises a three-tier approach.
Students starting their schooling in Taiwan can expect to spend six years in elementary education, followed by three years in a middle school and a further three years in high school before going on to complete any higher education at one of the country’s universities.
Taiwanese education is intensive with emphasis placed upon excellence in mathematics and sciences, which has led to the Taiwanese boasting some of the highest test scores in the world in these subjects. In addition to standard education, many students also attend bushiban, or cram schools, to further enhance their skills in academic subjects.
Taipei is home to 19 university campuses within the city boundaries, the two largest being the National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University. Both institutions have roots in the city reaching back to the previous Japanese colonial rule. These universities offer students specialized education in medicine, politics, environmental studies, the arts, international studies and humanities, amongst others.
Most higher education is taught in Mandarin, the national language of Taiwan, with the National Taiwan Normal University being internationally recognized for its Mandarin Training Center.
Public transport is the preferred method for navigating the city, with over 34% of inhabitants reliant on the city’s infrastructure. Private transportation consists primarily of scooters and bicycles, often ridden in between cars and buses. Expat drivers in Taipei need a high awareness of the possibility of scooters and bikes cutting across their paths, although traffic regulations are progressively improving the situation.
Taipei does, however, offer an extensive public transport infrastructure, including rail, bus and airports, and an efficient subway known as the Metro. Taipei’s Metro system offers commuters comprehensive routes throughout the city, connecting them to shopping malls, public parks, squares and other key destinations, including the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taoyuan City.
Buses, rail systems and the Metro all operate out of the central Taipei Station and use a contactless smartcard known as the Easycard, which passengers can add credit to and then use across all methods of transportation in the city as well as in some retail outlets.
Taiwan is home to two airports: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which offers flights all over the world and is the typical port of entry for expatriates primed for life in Taipei, and the smaller Songshan Airport, which offers domestic flights and flights to China, Tokyo and Seoul.
Tourism plays an important role in Taipei’s culture and economy, resulting in it being the 15th most visited city in 2013, with visitor numbers reaching over 6 million. Its infamous landmarks include Taipei 101 (a 101 floor skyscraper), the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, and 228 Peace Memorial Park. There is also an array of traditional Buddhist, Chinese, and Taoist temples.
Expatriates living in Taipei can further explore a huge number of museums and attractions for residents and visitors alike. Taipei’s oldest museum is the National Taiwan Museum, founded in 1908 by Taiwan’s Japanese Government. It was launched in celebration of Taiwan’s North-South Railway, only taking its current name in 1999. Situated next to the Governor’s building, known in present day as the Presidential Office Building, it has long been one of the most recognizable buildings in Taiwan.
Taipei is also renowned for its night markets, featuring stalls trading in clothing, food, and consumer goods. Home to the Taipei 101 building, the Xinyi District is popular with tourists and locals alike, and is filled with entertainment and shopping venues, including the huge Shin Kong Mitsukoshi complex.