Between the mountain and the sea, Hualien is located at 121°36’23”E and 23°58’20”E, bordering Xinzheng in the north, linking Xiulin in the west, connecting Jian in the south, and looking out to the Pacific in the east. As the first city to see sunlight in Taiwan, it is known as “sunshine in Taiwan is first seen in Hualien”. The total administrative area of Hualien occupies 29.41km2, falling into 45 boroughs and 6 combined neighborhoods. Of the total of about 101,000 people, more than 9,000 are indigenous peoples, making it the city with the largest indigenous population. As the capital and CBD of Hualien County, Hualien City is the most densely populated place in the county.
As a typical tourism city, Hualien has convenient intercity transportation, including land, sea and air transportation.
The North-link Line reaches Taipei (about 90 minutes to Lodong and 3 hours to Taipei) and connects with the Huatung Line; and the South-link Line reaches Kaohsiung (about 5.5 hours to Kaohsiung).
There are different highways linking Hualien with other cities in Taiwan, including the Suhua Highway (a section of Provincial Highway No. 9), Huadong Highway (a section of Provincial Highway No. 9), Hualien-Taitung Coastal Highway (a section of Provincial Highway No. 11), and Central Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway No.8). All these provincial highways start from Hualien and lead to Suao, Taitung and Taichung.
There are regular flights everyday flying from Hualien to Taipei, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi and Taichung. Hualien Airport is about 10 minutes from the urban centre, and it takes about 25 minutes to fly from Hualien to Taipei.
Hualien has an international port with liners sailing to Korea, Japan, Okinawa, the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries.
As the CBD integrates the politics, economics and transportation of Hualien County, Hualien City has advantageous transportation for import-export trade formed by the Hualien International Port and Hualien Airport; and rich tourism resources featuring Taroko National Park and Farglory Ocean Park. Therefore, in addition to the internationally famous quarry-related industries promoting the rise of the local stone art cultural industry, the guesthouse industry is thriving with the rise of the domestic travel habits, which have turned Hualien into an internationally famous tourism centre.
Education in Hualien is popular, with a schooling rate of 99.8% for school-aged children. The distribution of schools in Hualien and nearby areas is as follows:
Colleges and universities: 5
Senior high and senior vocational high schools: 12
Junior high schools: 4
Elementary schools: 15
Healthcare and medical resources
In Hualien City, there are one medical centre, two regional teaching hospitals and dozens of small and medium clinics. These healthcare and medical facilities, including the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital Hualien, Mennonite Christian Hospital and DOH Hualien Hospital etc, offer a total of more than 1786 beds, the highest rate in Taiwan in terms of population.
Culture and Art
Hualien City is a cultural and artistic city where there are many fine art, calligraphy literary and music groups engaging in countless cultural and art activities and where many famous artists reside. In fact, Hualien City has become the cultural and art centre of Hualien County with ex-Mayor Chita Tsai’s effort to the following polices in his administration: “Cultural Townscape and Art Landscape”, “Song City”, “LightScribe City”, and “All-out Music”.
Religions and Customs
The internationally famous Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is located in Hualien City. There are temples in the city, including the Taoist Cihui Temple worshipping the Queen Mother of the West from Heaven Lake (known as Yaoci Jinmu) and Taoist Shengan Temple, the origin of worshipping the Queen Mother of the West. There are other religious places in the city, and both religion and folk belief are popular in Hualien.
Hualien City has great achievements in promoting sports; many athletes from Hualien City have won championships in every county athletic meet, and all county sports associations are headquartered in the city. In addition to comprehensive sports and ballgame venues, jogging, hiking and track and field are very popular, and the sports population in Hualien City tops all townships in the county. In recent years, there have been a number of rising young athletes in the city, as seen with the popularity of X-games, which are one of the strengths of the city.