Taiwan, Land and Resources
Itu Aba, Matsu Islands, Yu Shan, tobacco leaf, Spratly Islands
The total area of the islands administered by the government on Taiwan is about 36,000 sq km (about 13,900 sq mi). Taiwan Island accounts for about 98 percent of this. The island is shaped like a tobacco leaf, extending about 390 km (about 240 mi) from its stem in the south to its northern tip. At its widest east-west point, the island extends about 140 km (about 90 mi). P’enghu, the largest of the P’enghu Islands, constitutes approximately half the group’s total area of about 130 sq km (about 50 sq mi). The 12 small Chinmen Islands cover a total area of about 150 sq km (about 60 sq mi). The Matsu Islands, situated northwest of Taiwan Island outside the mouth of the Min River, consist of a small main island and several smaller islands. The main island has a total area of about 12 sq km (about 5 sq mi). Although administered by the government on Taiwan, the Matsu and Chinmen islands are officially part of Fujian province.
Located about 1,800 km (about 1,100 mi) southwest of Taiwan in the South China Sea, the Spratly Islands are claimed by Taiwan, mainland China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A contingent of Taiwan’s Marine Corps is stationed on Itu Aba (called T’aip’ing Island in Taiwan) at the center of the group.
Taiwan Island’s most distinct land feature is its Chungyang Range, covering about half the total land area. The mountains extend over the island’s entire north-south length and reach a maximum elevation of 3,997 m (13,114 ft) at Yu Shan (Mount Jade). East of this central chain the land is rugged, terminating at precipitous cliffs that rise as high as 760 m (2,500 ft) from the Pacific Ocean. To the west, a broad, fertile plain and a series of connected basins slope gently to the shallow Taiwan Strait.
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