Taipei (literally means "North of Taiwan"), officially known as Taipei City, is the capital city and a special municipality of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei City is an enclave of the municipality of New Taipei. It is about southwest of northern port city Keelung. The city locates on the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed bounded by the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city's western border. The city proper is home to an estimated population of 2,693,672 in 2009, forming the core part of the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area which includes the nearby cities of New Taipei and Keelung with a population of 6,900,273, the 40th most-populous urban area in the world. The term "Taipei" can be either referred to the whole metropolitan area or city proper itself. In political terms, "Taipei" can occasionally be used as a synecdoche regarding the sovereignty of Taiwan. Due to the ongoing controversial political status of Taiwan, a designated name Chinese Taipei is in common use when Taiwanese governmental representatives or national teams participate in some international organizations (which may required an UN statehood) in order to avoid extensive political effects by using other names.
Before the city was founded by Chinese immigrants in the early 18th century, the region of Taipei Basin was mainly inhabited by the indigenous people known as the Ketagalan. In the 19th century, the city rapidly grew in importance due to significant growth of international trades. Taipei Prefecture was created in 1875 by the Qing Dynasty of China and was formally made provincial capital of Taiwan in 1894. Following the annexation of Taiwan by Japan in 1895, Japan retained Taipei as capital of the island and embarked on an extensive program of advanced urban planning. A number of Taipei landmarks and cultural institutions date from this period. The Republic of China took over the island in 1945 following Japan's surrender. After the Chinese Civil War, the ruling party Kuomintang (KMT) lost its control of whole mainland China and relocated the ROC government to Taiwan, proclaimed Taipei as the provisional capital of the Republic of China in December 1949. In 1990 Taipei provided the backdrop for the Wild Lily student rallies that moved Taiwanese society from one-party rule to multi-party democracy.
Taipei is the political, economic, and cultural center of Taiwan. Considered to be a global city, Taipei is part of a major high-tech industrial area. Railways, high-speed rail, highways, airports, and bus lines connect Taipei with all parts of the island. The city is served by two airports – Taipei Songshan and Taiwan Taoyuan. Taipei is home to various world-famous architectural or cultural landmarks which include Taipei 101, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Dalongdong Baoan Temple, Hsing Tian Kong, Mengjia Longshan Temple, National Palace Museum, Presidential Office Building, Night markets, and Ximending. Its natural features such as Maokong, Yangmingshan, and hot springs are also well known to international visitors.
Taipei was founded in the early 18th century under the Qing Dynasty rule and became an important center for overseas trade in the 19th century. The Qing dynasty made Taipei the capital of Taiwan Province circa 1886 when Taiwan was separated from Fujian Province.
Japan acquired Taiwan in 1895 under the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the First Sino-Japanese War. Taiwan became a colony of Imperial Japan with Taipei as its capital, in which Taipei was administered under Taihoku Prefecture. Taiwan's Japanese rulers embarked on an extensive program of advanced urban planning that featured extensive railroad links. A number of Taipei landmarks and cultural institutions date from this period.
The Republic of China (ROC) took over Taiwan in 1945 following Japanese surrender. After losing mainland China to the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) relocated the ROC government to Taiwan and declared Taipei the provisional capital of the ROC in December 1949. In 1990 Taipei provided the backdrop for the Wild Lily student rallies that moved Taiwanese society from one-party rule to multi-party democracy. The city is today home to Taiwan's democratically elected national government.
In the late 19th century, the Taipei area, where the major Han Chinese settlements in northern Taiwan and one of the designated overseas trade ports, Tamsui, were located, gained economic importance due to the booming overseas trade, especially that of tea exportation. In 1875, the northern part of Taiwan was separated from Taiwan Prefecture and incorporated into the new Taipeh Prefecture as a new administrative entity of the Qing dynasty. Having been established adjoining the flourishing townships of Bangka, Dalongdong, and Twatutia, the new prefectural capital was known as Chengnei, "the inner city", and government buildings were erected there. From 1875 (still Qing era) until the beginning of Japanese rule in 1895, Taipei was part of Tamsui County of Taipeh Prefecture and the prefectural capital.
In 1885, work commenced to create an independent Taiwan Province, and Taipei City was temporarily made the provincial capital. Taipei officially became the capital of Taiwan in 1894. All that remains from the Qing era is the north gate. The west gate and city walls were demolished by the Japanese while the south gate, little south gate, and east gate were extensively modified by the Kuomintang (KMT) and have lost much of their original character.
As settlement for losing the First Sino-Japanese War, China ceded the island of Taiwan to the Empire of Japan in 1895 as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. After the Japanese take-over, Taipei, called Taihoku in Japanese, was retained as the capital and emerged as the political center of the Japanese Colonial Government. During that time the city acquired the characteristics of an administrative center, including many new public buildings and housing for civil servants. Much of the architecture of Taipei dates from the period of Japanese rule, including the Presidential Building which was the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan.
During Japanese rule, Taihoku was incorporated in 1920 as part of Taihoku Prefecture. It included Bangka, Twatutia, and Jōnai (城內) among other small settlements. The eastern village Matsuyama (松山庄) was annexed into Taihoku City in 1938. Upon the Japanese defeat in the Pacific War and its consequent surrender in August 1945, the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) assumed control of Taiwan. Subsequently, a temporary Office of the Taiwan Province Administrative Governor was established in Taipei City.
Martial law and modern democracy
In 1947 the KMT government under Chiang Kai-shek declared island-wide martial law in Taiwan as a result of the 2-28 Incident, which began with incidents in Taipei but led to an island-wide crackdown on the local population by forces loyal to Chiang. Two years later, on December 7, 1949, Chiang and the Kuomintang were forced to flee mainland China by the Communists at the Chinese Civil War. The refugees declared Taipei to be the provisional capital of a continuing Republic of China, with the official capital at Nanjing (Nanking) even though that city was under Communist control.
Taipei expanded greatly in the decades after 1949, and as approved on December 30, 1966 by the Executive Yuan, Taipei was declared a special centrally administered municipality on July 1, 1967 and given the administrative status of a province. In the following year, Taipei City expanded again by annexing Shilin, Beitou, Neihu, Nangang, Jingmei, and Muzha. At that time, the city's total area increased fourfold through absorbing several outlying towns and villages and the population increased to 1.56 million people.
The city's population, which had reached one million in the early 1960s, also expanded rapidly after 1967, exceeding two million by the mid-1970s. Although growth within the city itself gradually slowed thereafter — its population had become relatively stable by the mid-1990s — Taipei remained one of the world's most densely populated urban areas, and the population continued to increase in the region surrounding the city, notably along the corridor between Taipei and Keelung.
In 1990 Taipei's 16 districts were consolidated into the current 12 districts. Mass democracy rallies that year in the plaza around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall led to an island-wide transition to multi-party democracy, where legislators are chosen via regularly scheduled popular elections, during the presidency of Lee Teng-Hui.