Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fresh Facts VIII: Taiwan's economy in 1939

By 1939, Taiwan was no longer producing as much camphor as it had some decades earlier, because of the invention of synthetic camphor, yet it was still the world’s no. 1 source of natural camphor. It was also the world’s third-largest producer of bananas and canned pineapples, no. 4 in global production of sweet potatoes and sugar, no. 6 for tea, no. 10 for rice and peanuts, and no. 13 for salt.

Nowadays, salt is no longer produced on a commercial basis (it's made the old way in a couple of places for educational/tourist reasons). Sugar production is minimal, and the quantity of tea grown has more than halved. However, Taiwan's teas (including those grown in the hills of Chiayi County, pictured here) are now regarded as among the very best in the world and command sky-high prices. Since the 1980s, bananas, pineapples and sweet potatoes have not been exported in significant quantities, although plenty are grown locally for domestic consumption.   

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