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Explore Taitung

Geographical Landscape

Taitung County covers an area of 3,515.2526 square kilometers, which is 9.78% of the total area of Taiwan. The western border is the Central Mountain Range, which separates Taitung from Pingtung County and Kaohsiung County. The northern border of Taitung connects to the southernmost portion of Hualien. Northeastern Taitung is home to the Coastal Mountain Range. The East Rift Valley, which runs from Hualien to Taitung, sits in Taiwan’s southeast corner. Taitung has 176 kilometers of coastline, which is the longest coastline in all of Taiwan.

Taitung County is separated into distinct administrative zones, which includes Taitung City, two urban townships; Guanshan and Chenggong, eight rural townships; Beinan, Taimali, Dawu, Luye, Chishang, Donghe, Changbin and Green Island, as well as five rural mountain townships; Jinfeng, Daren, Yanping, Haiduan and Orchid Island. Orchid Island is the county’s southernmost township. Taitung County is narrow from east to west and long from north to south.

Taitung County can be roughly divided into five areas, the Central Mountain Range, the East Rift Valley, the Beinan River Delta, the Coastal Mountain Range and the Taiyuan Basin. The county’s major rivers are the Beinan River, the Zhiben River, the Lijia River, the Jinlun River, the Taimali River and the Mawuku River. The longest river in Taitung County is the Beinan River. It starts in the eastern portion of Beinan’s largest mountain, which sits in the Central Mountain Range. The Beinan River is approximately 84.35 kilometers long and flows through seven of Taitung County’s administrative zones. The river, which has a total area of 1,603 square kilometers, is a significant water source for irrigation in Taitung.


The population of Taitung County is 215,000. Indigenous culture has been well preserved within the county because Taitung developed relatively late. The seven indigenous tribes of Taitung, the Amis, Beinan, Bunun, Yami, Paiwan, Rukai and Kavalan, make up thirty percent of the entire county’s population. Taitung County has the highest proportion of indigenous people of any county in Taiwan.

In addition to indigenous tribes, Taitung is home to the descendants of immigrants who have moved to the county over the last 150 years. The Han settlers were Hokkien people who moved directly from Fujian, China. After World War Two, soldiers and their families that came from China set up villages in Taitung. Following Typhoon Alan, a gigantic storm that hit Taiwan in 1959, displaced people from western Taiwan moved to Taitung County. In addition, a portion of Han immigrants were Hakka people from the Liudui area around Pingtung. Today, Taitung enjoys a diverse cultural landscape because so many different groups have moved here and thrived over the years.

Geology and Soil

The East Rift Valley separates The Central Mountain Range Geological Area, which runs the entire length of the county, and the Coastal Mountain Range Geological Area. The western part of the East Rift Valley is composed of metamorphic rock formed by tectonic plate movement. On the other hand, the eastern part is the Coastal Mountain Range Geological Area, which consists of complex volcanic rock. The county can be divided into four geological zones, the Central Mountain Range, the Coastal Mountain Range, the East Rift Valley and the outlying islands.
Central Mountain Range:

Geology:The ridge of the Central Mountain Range is nearly vertical due to extreme compression of the Earth’s strata. The composition of the rock found here is hard and dense with distinct geological joints. Despite this, Landslides easily occur on the slopes of the Central Mountain Range. The area close to Xinwu, which is in the eastern portion of the Central Mountain Range, is made of crystalline limestone and also has a marble canyon. In northeastern Lidao, a village in the Central Mountain Range, there are exposed areas of volcanic rock. In addition, there are rich alluvial deposits along the Southern Cross-Island Highway, especially in Lidao, Lulu, which are both alluvial terraces. Schist, metamorphic limestone and slate are major rock types of the argillite mountains of the Central Mountain Range, Taitung’s schist mountains and faulted coastline.

Soil:Taitung’s sloping mountains that are below 700 meters are flatlands that are suitable for farming. In these areas, there is 30 to 50 centimeters of red-brown, mildly acidic soil of very high quality. Long-term crops can be planted here when appropriate water and soil preservation measures are implemented. Additionally, the river terrace in the foothills of Luye and Chulu is around 70 to 90 centimeters deep, which is composed of mildly acidic clay soil or clay. Water drains here well and the gradual slopes along the river are fully intact. This area is very suitable for planting various types of crops.

Taitung’s Coastal Mountain Range:

Geology:Divided into “Mud Volcanoes,” “Moon Worlds” and “Barren Mountains.” Taitung is home to the southern section of the Coastal Mountain Range, which is long and thin. In addition, Taitung has many coastal terraces chiefly composed of volcanic agglomerate and sedimentary rock.

【Mud Volcanoes】
Most of the “Mud Volcanoes” in the southwestern portion of the Coastal Mountain Range extend along its eastern fault. They have three defining characteristics.
  1. There is a mudstone layer that is the source of erupting mud.
  2. They have naturally occurring leaks.
  3. There are faults and other channels that release gas and mud.
【Moon Worlds】
Also known as the “Badlands.” Chiefly found in mudstone areas. There is a long stretch of badlands from Jili to Fuli. 
【Barren Mountains】
This geological formation occurs in Beinan, Taitung. They often have sharp serrated peaks, steep faces that are sometimes vertical and deep narrow crevices. It’s hard for plants to grow here because the soil quality is poor and unstable. Therefore, this area is barren. This special geological attraction isn’t suitable for raising animals or growing crops. However, the unique scenery can be used for educational tours and recreational agriculture as long as the environment is kept safe. These activities have made the area quite popular with visitors.

Soil:The western low-lying portion of this area has mildly acidic clay soil. At around 80 to 100 centimeters deep, the soil is relatively thick. However, the area will suffer from serious erosion issues if farmed for too long without appropriate soil and water preservation measures. The low elevation hills, on the eastern side of the mountain range’s southern section, are composed of calcium carbonate or soft shale. The soil’s thickness varies in accordance to how steep a particular slope is. The portions with gentle slopes are relatively deep and go down around 1 meter. Steeper sections are only around 30 centimeters deep. In addition, the area’s alluvium is thin. When the majority of soil is alluvial, it is purple-brown and yellow. This type of barren soil is not very useful for farming.

The Plains of the East Rift Valley:

Geology:Mainly formed from gravel piles of collapsed rock from the Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range. Subsequently, riparian terraces of differing heights and alluvial fans made up of alluvium deposits were formed by collapsing landmass, receding seamount and former riverbed deposits gradually shifting.

Soil:Gravel covers this area because it is close to low-lying rivers. The soil is shallow in this area, contains high levels of gravel and is not very useful. Crops planted here are highly susceptible to drought during long dry spells. An exception to this is in areas farther away from riverbanks in the Taitung plains delta, Luye and the land around Chishang. The soil, which is over sixty centimeters deep, in these three locations is an important source of fertile farmland for Taitung.

Outlying Islands:

Geology:Chiefly the volcanic islands of Orchid Island and Green Island. Both Green Island and Orchid Island are very hilly and surrounded by coral reefs. Green Island is primarily composed of coral reefs and volcanic rock. However, Orchid Island is a Neogene submarine volcano. The island is full of precipices, unique rock formations and coral reefs due to bulging effects from volcanic activity and intense coastal erosion.

Soil:The soil in this area is red-purple, slightly acidic, sticky and has low levels of organic material. The clay topsoil of Orchid Island’s central mountains is black, mildly acidic or strongly acidic. The soil along the coast is yellow-brown, stony, shallow and almost mildly acidic. Main crops are sweet potatoes, taro and millet.


Earthquakes are common in Taitung County because it is located on Taiwan’s eastern fault line, which is where the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Sea Plate converge. However, major earthquakes rarely hit Taitung because most of the energy from the eastern fault line is released towards Hualien.


Climate strongly impacts travel time and crop quality. Taitung County is located south of the Tropic of Cancer, within the monsoon zone and is heavily affected by monsoonal winds. Taitung County is generally classified as having the tropical climate of southern Taiwan’s tropical mountain climate zones. The Central Weather Bureau has weather monitoring stations in Taitung County in Chenggong, Taitung City, Dawu and Orchid Island. The following is further analysis of ten-year averages of meteorological data from these stations.

The Kuroshio Current and the position of Taitung’s mountains heavily impact the temperature within the county. These factors make the average temperature 0.5°C higher than in western Taiwan. Moreover, it is hotter in Taitung’s plains than in the high-elevation mountain areas. The following are yearly average temperatures taken at weather stations around Taitung: Chenggong 23.8°C, Taitung City 24.5°C, Dawu 24.81°C and Orchid Island 22.6°C. Orchid Island’s temperature is lower because it is impacted by maritime conditions. Leaving aside Orchid Island, if temperatures above 22°C are considered summer, Taitung County has 8 to 9 months falling within that range.


Overall data shows that rainfall is plentiful in Taitung County. The following are average annual rainfall figures that were recorded at monitoring stations throughout the county. Chenggong, 2213.1 millimeters, Taitung City 1890.6 millimeters, Dawu 2207.6 millimeters and Orchid Island 3029.5 millimeters. Leaving aside the average rainfall of Orchid Island, which is a sea island, Taitung County has a distinct dry season that is impacted by monsoonal winds and typhoons. The rainy season lasts from May until October and the dry season is from November to April. The rainfall during the rainy season is around four times higher than during the dry season.


Humidity levels are high year round, with an average of 76% in the plains of Taitung. Humidity decreases from north to south. In general, summer and fall are more humid while spring and winter are drier. The correlation between rainfall and humidity levels in Taitung is very direct.


Taitung’s average duration of sunshine is lower than western Taiwan. The plains and coastal portions of Taitung enjoy 1530 to 1950 hours of sunshine per year. There is a higher duration of sunshine, over 215 hours, during July and August. The amount of sunshine increases from north to south. The average sunshine on the outer lying island of Orchid Island is around 120 hours per month. In mountainous regions, the monthly sunshine varies considerably according to a location’s altitude, whether it faces the sun or not and if it is in a ravine or on a ridge. Therefore, the average duration of sunshine ranges from 65 to 250 hours.


【Monsoonal Winds】
Typical monsoonal wind climate areas have southwestern monsoonal winds during the summer and northeastern monsoonal winds during the winter. However, Taitung County has highly varied rugged terrain which causes changes in wind direction that form unique microclimates.

  • Chenggong Weather StationFrom October to the following May, wind comes from the north-northeast. In June, wind comes from the south, in July from the northwest, in August from the north-northeast and in September from the northwest.
  • Taitung City Weather StationFrom August to the following March, wind comes from the north-northwest. In April and July, wind comes from the northwest, in May from the north-northwest and in June from the south-southwest.
  • Dawu Weather StationFrom January to March, wind comes from the north-northeast. In April and May as well as from September to December wind comes from the northeast. In June, wind comes from the west-northwest, in July from the west and August from the southwest. 
  • Orchid Island Weather StationIn May and July as well as from September to the following March, wind comes from the north-northeast. In May, wind comes from the east, in July from the southwest and in August from the west-southwest. (The winter monsoonal winds are stronger here. Crops must be adequately protected.)

Typhoons during the summer often hit Taiwan proper. Moreover, more than 80% of typhoons that impact Taiwan make direct landfall in Taitung County. Therefore, the impact of typhoons, including rainfall and windspeed, is quite severe. Typhoons occur more often in the three months spanning from July to September.

【Foehn Wind】
The southern parts of Taitung County sometimes experience foehn winds during spring and summer due to partial changes in atmospheric pressure. Temperatures surge during foehn winds. Even though foehn winds don’t last long, they severely impact crops.

Starting in September, monsoonal winds coming from the north blow in fine bits of sand from the Beinan River. Monsoonal winds blow continuously until December, lasting around four months.


There are two types of plants in Taitung County, naturally occurring plants and plants cultivated by people. Naturally occurring plants can be further classified into seaside plants, coastal plants, Central Mountain plants and outlying island plants. The following are descriptions of the characteristics and uses of plants in Taitung County.
Naturally Occurring Plants
Coastal Mountain Plants

Plants Near Sea Reefs
These plants grow in calcium carbonate soil that is salty and has high pH levels. These plants also often encounter strong winds because they grow on the coastline. Moreover, the coastline is considered a unique dry habitat. These plants are mostly salt-tolerant evergreen heliophytes with strong resistance to wind. They are mostly found on coral reefs between the coastline and the low tide line. These include daphne, white calluiflower, Scaevola taccada, seashore vine morning glory and white Myoproum bontioides. On Taitung County’s coastline, these types of plants are most prevalent in Sanxiantai and Xiaoyeliu.

Plants that Grow in Sandy Soil
Sand doesn’t retain water well. These plants encounter strong sea winds year round. Fine bits of sand often get blown around making it easy for plants to be buried. When this happens, these plants experience physiological drought because they have trouble absorbing water and sometimes get dehydrated. Therefore, these plants have developed various responses to adapt to this particular environment, such as mutations in shape. Plants that grow in dry areas with high salt content mostly are found in the sand near the intertidal zone. These plants include Zoysia grass, Myproum bontiodies, Paspalum thunbergia and wishbone flowers.

These plants grow in the area behind where sandy soil is found. In Taitung, primary shrubs are Screwpine, common Lantana and twenty-four other plants.

Coastal Mountain Plants

Plants in areas with riverbanks
These plants grow in sandy soil of river valleys on the western face of the Coastal Mountain Range. Mainly Coriaria, Taitung Firethorn, Hedge Sageretia, Stachyurus himalacius, Silver-grass, Miscanthus kanehirai Honda, Saccharum narenga and Equisetum.

Areas with Relatively More Riparian Soil
Bischofia javanica, paper mulberry, Radermachera sinica, Ficus nervosa, Hairy Fig, Shiny-leaved Prickly Ash, Crotalaria pallida, Asian Toddalia, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, Trema tomentosa, Mallotus japonicus, Macaranga tanarius, Mallotus paniculatus, Rubus, Rhus chinensis and Elaeocarpus sylvestris.

East Side of the Coastal MountainsLargely the same as the west side. However, Coriaria, Taitung Firethorn, Stachyurus himalaicus and Radermachera sinica don’t grow here.

Plants Growing in Foothills under 700 Meters
Most of the foothills in Taitung have been cleared for farming. In this zone, cash crops such as ginger, daylily, Angelica sinensis, Paulownia and Vernicia montana. Large portions of this zone are man-made forests of camphor, Aculops Fraxinus and Acacia confusa. In areas affected by landslides and degraded farmland, certain plants clusters will appear, such as Miscanthus floridulus, Usawa Cane, Arundo formosana, as well as Compositae such as Ageratum houstonianum Mill.

400 to 700 Meter Dual Cycle Tropical Rainforest
There are still small areas of natural forest on the sides of river valleys as well as in mountain valleys and on steep slopes where farming isn’t feasible. Trees with a natural advantage that are commonly seen in these areas include Phoebe formosana, Subcostate Crape Myrtle, Bischofia javanica, Ardisia sieboldii, Ficus Urostigma, Ficus nervosa and Ficus septica.

700 to 1600 Meter Asian Tropical Rainforest
In this area, plants with a natural advantage include Lauraceae and Fagaceae as well as Theaceae. Lauracea include Michilus kusanoi, Machilus thunbergii and Neolitsea konishii. Fagaceae include Long Glans Oak, Quercus gilva and Castanopsis Spach. Theaceae include Ternstroemia gymnanthera, Myrsine sequinii and Eurya japonica. Visitors can’t see these plants easily because they grow in rugged mountain areas.

Central Mountain Range Plants

Cold Zone Pine Forests
tural advantage here are mainly firs such as koreana, Picea asperata, Tsuga chinensis, Pinus armandii, Chamaecyparis obtuse, Luanta-fir, Taiwan Fir and Pinus taiwanensis.

Temperate Broadleaves and Coniferous Forests
Coniferous trees found here are mainly Chamaecyparis formosensisdi, Chamaecyparis, Taiwan Fir, Pseudotsuga wilsoniana, Taiwan Incense Cedar, Taiwan White Pine, Pinus taiwanensis and Taiwan Cow’s-tail Pine as well as Tsuga chinensis, Picea asperata, Pinus armandii Franchet, Luanta-fir and Juniperus communis.
Broadleaf trees are chiefly, Cyclobalanopsis morii, Long Glans Oak, Castanea henryi, Castanopsis cuspidate, Quercus semecarpifolia, Shuttle-cock Oak, Quercus salicina, Castanopsis fabri, Lithocarpus shinsuiensis, Lithocrarpus hancei, Actinodaphne mushaensis, Arishan Hornbeam, Illicium anisatum, Ternstroemia gymnanthera, Eurya Ioquaiana Dunn, Rhododendron formosanum Hemsl, Taiwan Alphine Rhododendron, Trochodendron aralioides, Anneslea Ianceolata, Rosa morrisonensis, Holly and Yushania niitakayamensis.

Tropical Asian Broadleaf and Coniferous Forests