archipelago and hsien (county) of Taiwan, consisting of about 64 small islands, approximately 30 miles (50 km) west of the coast of Taiwan, from which it is separated by the P'eng-hu Channel. Of volcanic origin, many of the islands consist of weathered basalt, and they are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands are low-lying, most rising only about 100-130 feet (30-40 m) above sea level. The highest peak is about 157 feet (48 m). The islands have a warm climate, being situated in the path of the Kuroshio (Japan Current), and the annual temperature range is from 61 to 82 F (16 to 28 C). The rainfall is roughly 35 inches (900 mm) annually, nearly all of which falls between June and September. For the rest of the year there is a shortage of water, and there are no rivers. In winter the islands are swept by severe winds. The largest islands are P'eng-hu (25 square miles [64 square km]), on which more than half of the population lives, Pai-sha, Yu-weng, and Pa-chao. P'eng-hu, Pai-sha, and Yu-weng are linked by causeways. The total area of the entire group and of the county is 49 square miles (127 square km).
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