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Overview
Kenting National Park, Taiwan's first national park, is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides, the Pacific ocean to the east, the Taiwan Strait to the west and Bashi Channel to the south. The Park embraces land both above and below water. Located over an area of significant tectonic activity, this part of Taiwan is home to many unique geological features, including uplifted coral beds, ocean erosion, and fault line rifts. Geography and tropical climate have together created a rich and varied natural canvas, which today helps define Kenting's special place among Taiwan's national parks. In addition to geology, natural attractions of particular interest in the park include rarely seen coastal plants, the annual autumn overflight of migratory birds from northern Asia, and beautiful living coral reefs.
         
Geology & Geography
The Hengchuen peninsula on which the Kenting National Park is situated sits at the confluence of fault lines and tectonic plates. The result is a landscape that has been pushed, pulled, and twisted into its present complex form. The Hengchuen rift valley, which runs north to south through the area, cuts Kenting National Park into eastern and western sections. Ancient coral beds are the principal geological feature in the western section, with mountains in the north and gently rolling hills and coral beds in the south. The eastern section comprises uplifted coral beds and limestone crevasses, with the most easterly corner dotted with sand dunes, coral protrusions, limestone caves, sinkholes, and stalactites.


The geology of park land can be categorized roughly as sandy coastline (such as Baisha, Nanwan, Kenting, Siaowan, Shadao, and Fengchueisha), ancient coral beds (such as that along the western shoreline and along the Eluanbi coast), rocky coastline (in the area north of Jialeshuei), limestone beds (above coral encrusted shorelines in places such as Dapingding and Maobitou as well as in the Eluanbi plateau), solitary rocky peaks (such as Menmaluo, Dashanmu, Dajianshan, and Frog Rock), fault lines (at Maobitou and in the area between Eluanbi and Fengchueisha), estuaries (of the Baoli and Gangkou rivers), rivers and lakes (including the Gangkou River and Lungluan Lake), and valleys (near Nanrenshan).

Special geological features within the National Park include sand islets (a feature typically found with shallow, sandy coastlines); a 3-hectare stretch of natural coral sand beach north of Eluanbi; the wave-pitted, rocky coastline at Jialeshuei; and solitary promontories such as Dajian, the remains of massive boulders stranded here when Hengchuen emerged from beneath the ocean depths. These are some of Kenting's key landmarks.


   
                 
           
Flora & Fauna
Situated in the tropics, Kenting¡¦s summer is long and pleasant, while winter passes quickly and largely unnoticed. Precipitation is unevenly dispersed through the year, with most rain falling from May through October. Kenting's dry season runs from November through April. Nearly concurrent with the dry season, from October through March, is the period when Kenting comes under the influence of the northeastern monsoon. Climate and geography together have endowed the area with a particularly rich ecology.

Vegetation in the park falls into two categories: coastal and upland. Coastal flora includes belts of coral reef vegetation, grasses, bush, and littoral forest. Upland flora includes belts of wetland, grassland, scrub, and forest. The Nanrenshan monsoon forest, Sail Rock and Shiangjianwan littoral forests, and uplifted coral forest are of particular interest to visitors and are protected under permanent conservation programs.

Kenting's diverse foliage supports a wide variety of animal life, including 15 wild mammal species, 316 different types of birds, 59 varieties of reptiles and amphibians, 2 species of freshwater fish, 216 different types of butterflies, and a profusion of insect life. Come to the park between autumn and spring to enjoy the annual visit of migratory birds. Kenting is a preferred rest stop for many migratory species, including the brown shrike, gray-faced buzzard, Chinese sparrow hawk, and numerous varieties of water duck.

Ocean Marine Life

The Kenting National Park is the only national park in Taiwan to include undersea areas within its boundary. The Kuroshio ("black current"), which passes nearby, maintains temperatures in the waters around Kenting at a relatively stable within the relatively stable range of 22~29oC year-round. The small number of rivers in the area helps ensure crystal clear coastal waters and creates an ideal environment for coral, which is found here in abundance, as well as fish, crustaceans, and seaweed.
Kenting is home to beautiful natural reefs, built up by countless generations of coral over thousands of years. Both types of coral, hermatypic (constructive) and ahermatypic (non-constructive), can be found in the coastal waters here. Hermatypic corals tend to live close to the ocean surface as they need ample sunlight to thrive. Ahermatypic corals, however, live in deeper, darker waters. In Kenting, you can also see both "soft" and "stony" corals -- so named based on the firmness of their calcium skeletons. It is mostly the stony corals which contribute to the building of coral reefs. Coral is a key feature of the Kenting National Park, serving as environmental bellwether for the area's delicately balanced ecosystems as well as shelter for the massive population of fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and more that calls the Kenting reefs home.

Researchers have identified 236 distinct species of coral within the Kenting National Park. Soft corals, comprising a relatively small number of species but accounting for the highest population numbers, are located offshore in greatest concentrations between Houbihu Harbor and Dalaugu and between Leidashr and Maobitou. The profusion of soft coral at Kenting is one of the few concentrations of its kind in the world.
   
History

Seventeen prehistoric sites have been identified so far within Kenting National Park. Most sites are situated on the eastern bank of the Shrniou River and date back around 4,000 years. These represent some of the best preserved prehistoric sites on Taiwan and include remains of fired pottery typical of the Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures that once lived here. Historical sites of a more recent vintage, such as slate slab aboriginal houses in Nanrenshan and the lighthouse (built in 1882) at Eluanbi, should also not be missed during your visit.
The Puyuma tribe is the predominant aboriginal (native) group on the Hengchuen peninsula and today they are primarily engaged in hillside agriculture and fishing. The Puyuma have well-developed traditional arts, which include woodcarving and tattooing. The Ami, the dominant aboriginal tribe of eastern Taiwan, reside in Hengchuen's lowlands and in coastal settlements. The Hengchuen Amis comprises the southernmost branch of that tribe in Taiwan. Modern-day immigration has also introduced members of the Siraiya Makatau tribe, a group originally from the Tainan area, to the peninsula as well.

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