The history of Taitung

A legend of heaven

Taitung in prehistoric times
the earliest human footprints in Taiwan.

Taitung was called Tsongau and Peinanmi in ancient times. It was also called Houshan because of its location behind the Central Mountain Range.

The history of Taitung can be traced back to the Paleolithic period 30,000 years ago, and it is also the earliest record of human civilization found in Taiwan. During this period, people lived in seaside caves along the coast of Taitung, in places such as Changbin and Chenggong. They lived on hunting and fishing, forming small team-type societies. By the middle of the Neolithic period 5,000 years ago, the footprint of human settlements extended south to Donghe, Fushan, Jialulan, etc. In addition to fishing, they started to plant some root crops. Later, during the late Neolithic Age 3,500 years ago, people began to live by farming. Just imagine that human life in the past must have been quite bitter and monotonous. However, if you lived on the coast of Taitung a thousand years ago. After working in the green fields at sunrise, and sleeping at night under the endless starry skies, it would probably have been quite comfortable!

Taitung During the Dutch Occupation Period
The Rumored Mysterious Golden River.

Taitung has left a mysterious figure in the Age of Discovery throughout the world.

During the period between the 15th and 17th centuries, European countries launched ocean voyages, opened new routes, and broke the barriers of Eastern and Western cultures. However, they also promoted colonialism. The Dutch regarded Taiwan as a strategic stronghold and landed in 1624 and occupied Tainan's Taiyuan (Anping). Originating from discussions circulated by merchants, they heard that there was a place rich in gold in the east, so they spent much time planning and sent a small expedition team to the east. The team headed south to Pingtung via land, avoiding the Central Mountains to reach Beinan, Taitung. However, the golden dream did not come true. The Dutch once fought with the indigenous tribes in search of gold. The bones of Dutch soldiers are still buried in the current Taitung First Cemetery, a sad reminder of the price once paid for this legend.

Taitung During the Manchu Dynasty
Officially Entering the Qing Dynasty.

After the 16th century, Taitung was regarded as a hiding place for pirates by the Qing court. As the Western powers invaded one after another, the Kangxi emporor annexed Taiwan in 1683 and included it in the Qing Empire. After the 16th century, Taitung was regarded as a hiding spot for pirates by the Qing court. Initially, the Qing Dynasty imposed a maritime ban, prohibiting people from smuggling to Taiwan, preventing officials and soldiers from occupying Taiwan and confronting the Qing court. There was no other policy governing Taiwan at that time. In 1879, Japan sent troops to attack Taitung owing to their citizens drifting to Taitung and being robbed by the indigenous people. After the Qing court dispatched representatives to negotiate, the Peinan Prefecture was established in Taitung to manage local affairs. In 1887 (the 13th year of Guangxu), the Beinan Prefacture was upgraded to Taitung State Directly Led by Government, and township administrative units were established below the state to strengthen local governance.

Taitung During the Japanese Occupation Period
The Great Changes in the Colonial Period.

In 1894 (the 20th year of Guangxu), the Qing court defeated Japan after the Sino-Japanese War and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki to cede Taiwan to Japan. In 1896 (22nd year of Guangxu), Japanese troops landed in Beinan. The tribes joined forces to resist defeat by the Japanese, and Japan formally occupied the east. They established 6 counties and 3 prefactures in the following year. The Taitung Prefecture was set up in the eastern region under the jurisdiction of Shuiwei, Beinan, and Qilai. In 1909, the Japanese government again established the Hualien Prefacture from Taitung Prefecture, which became the prototype of the later two administrative units in Hualien and Taitung. The Japanese government regarded Taitung as the preferred choice for Japanese overseas immigrants, and coveted rich forest resources in the region. During the colonial period, they actively conducted mountain surveys and encouraged Japanese businesses to develop forest land. At the same time, they also set up financial institutions, established Xingang (now known as Chenggong Fishing Harbor) and the eastern railroad, which greatly accelerated the development of Taitung.