For long periods in its past, Taiwan was physically connected to the Chinese mainland. During the most recent Ice Age, humans and animals migrated across the land bridge to what’s now Taiwan. Fossil evidence shows that among the new arrivals were deer, rhinos, horses and hyenas. Between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, the sea level began to rise and Taiwan again became an island.
During the most recent Ice Age, dozens of glaciers existed in Taiwan’s uplands, including at least 35 on or near Snow Mountain.
Except for a few spots, the Taiwan Strait – the ocean between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland – is no more than 80m deep.
Taiwan is losing land on its east coast as a result of erosion, but slowly gaining land on its western side because so much silt is washed down from the mountains each year.
The US Department of Agriculture divides soils into 12 soil categories. Every one of these, with the exception of Gelisols (found only in areas with permafrost), exists naturally in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s wettest places are certain foothill areas in New Taipei. In a typical year, they receive almost 6,000mm of precipitation. That’s a lot, but during typhoons parts of Taiwan have been hit with more than 2,000mm of rain in less than 48 hours.