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Taipei

Formerly called 'Formosa' (Portuguese for 'beautiful'), Taiwan is relatively small, although its population numbers almost 23 million, making it the second most densely populated country in the world after Bangladesh. A gateway to the massive Chinese market, Taiwan has a strong relationship with the West.

The political issue of its relationship with China has eased somewhat and direct flights to the mainland have been introduced. Taiwan has plenty to offer, from truly unique scenery to exciting sporting activities and colourful festivals, not to mention the most varied Chinese food on earth.

Taipei , the capital city, has a long established reputation as a gourmet's paradise, boasting cuisine from every region of China. It is also home to new boutique hotels and trendy bars that have sprung up in a flurry of construction culminating in the opening of the 'world's tallest building', Taipei 101 (now overtaken by Burj Khalifa in Dubai).

The constructing of parks and much-needed infrastructure in also underway. Perhaps a result of this growth, Taipei's cultural scene has blossomed giving local sculpture, art and architecture a distinctly Taiwanese edge.