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Also known as Chinese Taipei, Taiwan is claimed by China as a province and not recognised by the United Nations or by most countries of the world. However, it is to all intents and purposes a country in its own right with a vigorous domestic economy and international trade.

The first railway on the island then known as Formosa opened in 1891 from Taipei to Kee Lung, a distance of 29km.

The first lines were built to a gauge of 3ft 6in (1067mm) and form the basis of the present day main line network. There were also a number of 2ft 6in (762mm) gauge lines serving the logging and sugar cane industries.

In 2007, a new high speed line was opened, built to standard gauge (1435mm). This line is some 345km in length and links the capital, Taipei, in the north, to the major southern city of Kaohsiung.

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