Is Taiwan safe or not?

Nowadays safety is a big topic, CCTVs everywhere, criminality rates world wide are as low as never before and there are more solved then unsolved crimes, though not in every country. So what about Taiwan? Is Taiwan safe or not?

Taiwan is a small island nation that truly hides a bunch of awesomeness. It has marvelous temples, amazing mountain hikes, hot springs, tropical islands, relics of colonial rule and some of the tastiest food ever experienced.

But nothing in this world is flawless, utopias just don’t exist yet. Like for many beautiful countries around the world, seismic activity is a real threat for Taiwan. Earthquakes can be seriously deadly and strong typhoons hit Taiwan in a regular basis. Also, there’s China on its doorstep, not recognizing it as a country.

So it’s only fair to say that there can be complications when visiting Taiwan. So is Taiwan safe?

In this article we will throw a critical eye over all the factors affecting your safety in Taiwan so you will exactly know what to expect before you set foot on this land and can make the necessary precautionary planning.

The topics we will be going over:

  • General Safety
  • Safety Precautions
  • Safety regarding foreigners
  • Natural disasters
  • Organized crime
  • Road Safety
  • Conclusion: Is Taiwan safe or not?

General Safety

It is the attitude of the common people that plays an important role in ensuring public safety in any nation. If people are in general not inclined towards violence or crime, then less crimes will take place.

Taipei City is ranked the 16th safest city in the world with a safety index of 80.14 according to the 2018 statistical analysis by the CEOWORLD magazine. Taiwan as a country consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world for its low crime rate. Violent crime is outstandingly low, and even petty theft is reassuringly uncommon.

Buses in Taiwan have seat belts, that’s no joke. What more? It is uncommon to lock houses, apartments and cars outside the big cities. Plus, people don’t even lock their bicycles anywhere in public-spaces!

Public spaces in Taiwan are considered so safe, that you will find young people drinking in public parks until sunrise. And not only that, you will find women going alone through dark alley ways in the middle of the night without worrying at all! What this shows is that people are confident that nothing will happen to them or to their property in public. This means that people generally feel safe.

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General Safety

Safety Precautions

According to the 2018 Crime and Safety Report issued by OSAC, there is extensive CCTV coverage throughout Taiwan. To give you a general idea, there are 25,000 cameras in Taipei, 24,000 in Kaohsiung, and 34,000 in New Taipei City. There is a wide network of security cameras at traffic intersections, commercial establishments, and public areas of hotels and residential buildings, which means that most activities occurring outside of the home are monitored and/or recorded. You also have the opportunity to choose, if you are really bored, to watch one of over 540 online CCTV live. The extensive coverage plays a significant role in deterring criminal activity. To conclude, Taiwan takes security precautions seriously to ensure public safety and an over-all sense of safety in Taiwan.

Safety regarding Foreigners

According to the 2018 Crime and Safety Report issued by OSAC, violent crime against foreigners is unusual. Plus, overall violent crime rates in Taiwan are among the lowest in the world. Pickpockets and bag-snatching can be a danger in crowded areas. This happens in locations frequented by tourists particularly at tourist sites and busy night markets.

If you are traveling to Taiwan, stay watchful. Anyone who is traveling to another country should take basic safety precautions, regardless of the country he/she is visiting. Taiwan is no exception. Be mindful. Stay safe.

Natural Disasters

Earthquakes hit Taiwan on a regular basis. Even though they occur nearly daily, most earthquakes go unnoticed outside of the sensors designed to track seismic activity. Major quakes do happen, and as a result of this all of Taiwan’s modern structures (including highways, railways and most buildings) are built to withstand even the largest earthquakes.

Typhoons happen in the wet or typhoon season from May to November. During this time, flooding and mudslides are common. The direction and strength of typhoons can change with only little warning. In some remote areas, shelter from a severe typhoon could be difficult to find.

If a typhoon is approaching, local authorities may declare a ‘typhoon day‘ in a short moments notice. This means businesses may only open for a short time and government offices will probably close. 

Even though earthquakes happen often, Tsunamis are not really a common thing here. In the last 240 years there happened two tsunamis worth mentioning, in the years of 1781 and 1867, with over a height of 15 meters. That means it’s more likely to get hit by lightning than seeing a dangerous tsunami here.

Organized Crime

The World Economic Forum has a useful Index, which estimates the impact of Organized Crime imposing on businesses. Not surprisingly, Finland and Norway are at the top of the list, with a impact score of 6.8 and 6.6 (the perfect score of 7 represents ‘no impact to business at all’). El Salvador comes in at 137 on the list, with a score of 1.5.
Taiwan comes in at 49 on the list, with a respectable impact score of 5.1 behind France and Mongolia, but just ahead of Algeria and Israel.

So what does that mean now? On the one hand, Taiwan has a long history with efficient and ruthless underground organizations, which includes names such as the Bamboo Union, Four Seas, and Heavenly Way, engaged in international counterfeiting, human trafficking, gun-running, and drug smuggling. On the other hand since the 90’s they managed to keep them under control and the police conducts operations against the local mobs several times a year.

To keep it short and simple, Taiwan has changed, and with it also its society. So to answer the question if organized crime is defeated now, it depends on who you ask. There are two possibilities, the gangsters have either disappeared or become more sophisticated. Either way, as long as you don’t plan on stealing their business or put your nose in things it doesn’t belong to, you have nothing to worry about.

Road Safety

In general Taiwan is the 4th most law abiding country in the world, but when you look at road safety, it tumbles down the list to 35th out of 189 countries. Taiwan registers 6.8 road deaths per year for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is far away from the International Average of 17.4 deaths.

Between 2007 and 2017 the road death rate dropped down 25%. Driving in Taiwan can be extremely hazardous and not always passively, but it seems exaggerated to call it a specifically “dangerous” country when the nation’s statistics sit so high on the list. As in every other country of the world you should always pay attention to the traffic. Therefore it can be said, Taiwan’s roads are getting far better, but the risk of sustaining an injury on a motorbike remains high.

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Conclusion: Is Taiwan safe or not?

To sum it up, I can say that, even though Taiwan still has to work on the general awareness of road safety, it is a completely safe country. They have all the necessary precautions for natural disasters and organized crime barely happens. Taiwanese have a sense of honor, so they are always welcoming to tourists and committing crimes are against their cultural mentality. As every popular tourist destination it can be a target for pick pockets in crowded places, still nothing to be worried about. If you want to find out more about dangerous wildlife or crime related hazards, follow the links. Until then, be aware, stay safe and enjoy the beautiful country of Taiwan!

External Sources


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