Can new cities be built on Taiwan's mountains?

I’ve never been to Taiwan, but from Google Maps it looks like the mountains are at least capable of development.

come & find out. Maps are misleading.

No! Earthquakes, typhoons and mudslides regularly destroy villages there. Taiwan has a pretty dense population so they would have done it already if it were a good idea. Some is also aboriginal land.

That’s a great question. To get an idea of how much of the population lives in the north and along the western coastline, look for images of Taiwan at night from space. The western sea board is saturated with light while the mountains are stark black.

My understanding is that development happened in this way because the first immigrants from China obviously preferred locations that facilitated trade back to the mainland; when the Japanese took over in 1895 they put the capital in the north so as to be more accessible to Japanese ships. The mountains had rough terrain, lots of vegetation, wild animals (including the Formosan Black Bear!), and indigenous people who weren’t too keen on adapting to a foreign culture imposed on them.

But the major reason that Taiwan’s mountains remain largely undeveloped to this date is that they are extremely high, inaccessible, and above all else, geologically unstable. I’m told that the formation of Taiwan (the island) was relatively late in the grand scheme thing of things, meaning that the soil isn’t as firm as mountains in other places (or something like that). Unpredictable weather, including monsoons, typhoons, and earthquakes exacerbate the issue, making landslides and road closures commonplace.

There are other reasons, too. Mountain peaks don’t lend themselves to factories, and even if they did, it would make shipping across Taiwan and to other countries very inefficient. Keep in mind that manufacturing and export drive Taiwan’s economy. Living in a big metropolitan area is also something of a status symbol, so you wouldn’t find a lot of people willing to relocate to the remote mountains, at least not at first. People in Taiwan, and maybe Asia in general, like bunching up together (it’s called 熱鬧 renao) and it brings a sense of security.

Lastly, and I’m not sure if this really does play a part, I suspect that a fear of ghosts keeps many from living too close to mountains or the sea, where restless spirits are supposedly particularly active.

Other posters, feel free to add to/correct what I’ve written here.

The mountains were not developed during most of the Qing Dynasty because they drew a line and said this side is Chinese and civilized, this side is aboriginal and not. You can still find a few remnant of the walls and ditches in places. They changed there minds in the late 1800s as foreign powers began to covet Taiwan and they needed to prove they had sovereignty and control over the whole island. Hence the cross-island trails one of which today’s Hwy 9 to Ilan mostly follows.

As Hok says the mountains are extremely unstable. How unstable? I wrote about this recently in an article called Hiking in the Landslide Capital of the World, a reference to UK landslide experts Dave Petley’s oft cited assessment of conditions here.

I’ve had several experienced geologists as hiking partners over the years and they all have stated that Taiwan is almost unique in that it yearly is thrust up an usual amount (.5 or .05cm, can’t remember which, but it is considered A LOT) by powerful tectonic forces and eroded equally by rain and landslides. You also have typhoons, earthquakes and the fact that most mountains are composed of shales and sandstone and not more durable types (Taiwan’s rocks are shit as one friend like to say). The mountains are extremely fragile, especially after 911 which shook things up terribly.

The DPP tried when they had the presidency to create a proper land use policy (like every other country has) to limits high mountain development. Of course the KMT blocked it and today Taiwan is still not as advanced as Malaysia and other regional powers despite having a much more fragile environment. But hey, you govern with the idiots you have not want.

So in short, no. You can’t build up there unless you want to see lots of people die at some point because of your lack of foresight.

when Saudi terrorists flew planes into Yushan and Xueshan, killing thousands.

Of course, we all know that you meant 921. :wink:

For the OP, we’re talking about the 1999 Jiji Earthquake.

when Saudi terrorists flew planes into Yushan and Xueshan, killing thousands.

Of course, we all know that you meant 921. :wink:

For the OP, we’re talking about the 1999 Jiji Earthquake.[/quote]

:laughing: :notworthy: