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Hua-tung Defense Command

East Taiwan consists of Hualien and Taitung counties. The area covers 8,143 square kilometers, about one fifth of Taiwan's total area, but has a population of only 610,000 or just three percent of the population of Taiwan. Communities are usually found in the few scattered flat areas. The administration centers, Hualien City and Taitung City, are located in the north and south of this area respectively. The longitudinal Huatung rift valley separates the Central from the Coastal Range.

The Hua-tung valley [also known as the Hua-Tung Long Valley], surrounded by the central and coastal mountain range, contains many steep rivers and creeks which form some fertile alluvial fans. The valley stretches from the plains of Hualien in the north to the plains of Taitung in the south. It was formed by the collision of two massive tectonic plates, the Philippine Plate and the Euro-Asian Continental Plate. Hua-tung has beautiful scenery, abundant natural resources and unique cultural attractions. The Huatung Valley has been the pivotal granary of Taiwan. Its warm climate and the environment without pollution let it be the major producer of excellent rice in Taiwan. Of the nine aboriginal tribes in Taiwan four of them, the Amei, Atayal, Bunun and Puyuma tribes, inhabit the Hua-tung valley.

In the past, East Tawian suffered from inconveniences in its transport system caused by the geographical barrier of the Central Range. Under the rule of the Japanese, construction projects included the completion of the Eastern Railway in 1926, the building of Huatung Highway in 1930 and the completion of the Southern-Round-Island Highway in 1932. After World War II, the opening of the Central Cross-island (Chungheng) Highway and the Southern Cross-island (Nanheng) Highway provided tourist routes. A milestone in the development of the region's infrastructure came in 1991 with the opening of the Taiwan-Round-island Raiway. Highway 9 runs down the main Huatung Valley, while Highway 11 follows the coast. The Kuanfeng Highway, Jueikang Highway, and Tungfu Highway connect the valley with the coact.

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