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Taiwan: A beautiful nation of food, culture, and history

Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei, Taiwan: A modern city with a beautiful landscape

Taiwan has a different appeal to our last admission. While expats on the “Beautiful Island” do report higher incomes than at home, they cite the experience of living there to be the main draw to Taiwan. The seamless mix of modern and ancient architecture, beautiful religious statues and ceremonies all contribute to the wonderful culture that the country has to offer. And food? From Taiwanese street stalls to Italian and Indian restaurants, there is a smorgasbord of delicious choices to help you feel at home. It is also an incredibly convenient place; grocery stores on nearly every corner mean you’ll never be screwed when you realize your missing the garlic for your Dan Bing. If you don’t want to walk into a 7-Eleven, you could just make your way into the night market. This is where you’ll find some of the best street food amongst hundreds of locals in an amazing atmosphere. Walking through the streets of Taiwan with all the smells and sounds can definitely cause an expat to fall in love.

Night Market in Liouhe
The Night Market in Liouhe, Kaohsiung is just one of many places to visit as you check out the wonders of Taipei.

Taiwan is a much more democratic nation than the last nation on this list, and it makes quite the difference. In May of 2017, President Tsai Ing-Wen declared that the civil code barring same-sex unions violated the constitution on "freedom of marriage and the guarantee of equality before the law". That same month the government passed a law that acknowledged 16 languages spoken by the indigenous people of Taiwan as official languages of the nation. This was quite a move, since many self-proclaimed democratic nations don't extend equal rights to their indigenous peoples. Many elect politicians that have denigrated these populations in an official capacity, showing no respect for the people that choose to hold on to the native culture. In Taiwan, 6 seats are reserved for the indigenous Taiwanese and only the indigenous voters can vote on who they want to represent them in government.

The people of Taiwan have the right to vote in free and fair elections, placing the risk of corruption and authoritarianism at a low. No political party can hold more than 1/3 of the total available seats in the legislature and politicians in those 6 parties are elected directly by the people. That is a government by the people, for the people (the United States of America need to take note). However, major business owners with interests in China continue to be an influential force in Taiwanese politics, largely through their close relationship with the KMT and support for its China-friendly policies. The KMT, which ruled Taiwan as a totalitarian, one-party state for decades until political changes took hold in the 1980s-1990s, has typically enjoyed considerable financial advantage over rivals like the DPP, which has traditionally favored independence from China. Still, the government of Taiwan today is under a party that practises freedom and equality for all of its citizens and that makes it a wonderful place for expats to feel safe and happy while on its shores.

Taipei, Taiwan Glass Slipper church
This church was built for specifically for people to take photos on their wedding day. Taipei knows how to give people the royal treatment.

How do I get there?

It's relatively easy to get into Taiwan as a citizen of a few countries. Those with passports from these nations can enter Taiwan and stay for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, and may apply for a 90 day extension at the end of the original period. Everyone else will have to apply for a visa, which appears to be a fairly simple procedure according to the Taiwanese Government. After your visit to Taiwan you may decide to stay, at which point you should apply for your resident's visa. Mandatory accompanying documents include 3 months' worth of bank statements with an official stamp from the bank, it is unclear whether or not a certified translation of these documents is necessary, but it is worth noting that the Bureau of Consular Affairs does not offer any translation services at all.

Part 3. Coming Soon Switzerland (#17 most free in the world)

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