Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and was the capital during imperial times. It is famous for its temples, historic buildings and snack food. The city is currently the fifth largest city on the island after New Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei with a population of over 1.8 million. For a city of its size by population, Tainan’s size by land area is exceptional. Very few buildings are more than 5 to 6 stories in height and most are between two and three stories. Like other Taiwanese cities, most people in Tainan, including taxi drivers, cannot speak English well (except for high school and college students), though some of the older generation can converse in Japanese. However, to help visitors get around, there are free tri-lingual (Chinese, English and Japanese) map-guides available at the railway station.
One of the most popular destinations in the Tainan area is the Anping District (安平區； Ānpíng qū). The Anping District is the historical heart of Tainan, the original capital of Taiwan. Anping is home to the Anping Old Fort (安平古堡； Ānpíng gu bǎo), the Anping Tree House (安平樹屋 Ānpíng shù wū） (a warehouse with massive banyan trees growing out of it), and numerous restaurants and food stalls.
It is the place where the Dutch colonialist East India Company (VOC) located its Taiwan base. Fort Zeelandia (at today’s Anping) and Fort Provintia (at today’s Chickan Tower) had been built to secure the entrance to a natural harbour, otherwise blocked by sandbars. The area has become silted over the centuries and today the coastline is way outside the range of both forts location. Also, a lot of land area is being claimed from the sea these days as you can easily see when venturing outside Anping.
The Dutch have been overcome by Chinese general Zheng Chenggong (known in the West as Koxinga), who proceeded to set up organized government on the island. He is thus regarded as the founding personality of Taiwan and the city has great historic significance for the country as a whole.