Exploring Taiwan's non-Chinese cultures

Though Han Chinese now constitute nearly 98 percent of the population, the people who proceeded them – known as Formosans and Taiwanese aborigines – are Austronesians whose presence here has been dated back as far as 6,500 years. Subdivied into more than two dozen ethnic groups such as the Alayal, Amis (above), and Bunun, unassimilated Formosans are these days they´re mostly found up in the highlands. Though socially and economically they have been moving up in recent years – including efforts by the government to promote their welfare and culture, many indigenous people remain largely relegated to the lowest rungs of Taiwanese society.

The best way for visitors to experience the cultures of the peoples who preceded the Han is to visit the 37-year-old, 204-acre  (82.65 hectare) Taiwain Indigenous People Cultural Park (above) in the southern mountain village of Beiye, home to the Paiwan tribe and a 4½-hour drive from Taipei. There´s also the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines near the National Palace Museum in Taipei; Sun Moon Lake (see below); and festivals in places like the city of Taitung, six hours south of Taipei. (Read more about these options and the aboriginal Taiwanese in general here.)

Read more in my post Equal Parts Handsome, Historic, and Cutting-edge, Taiwan Is Terrific.

Stanislav Koslovskiy

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