In the past, the Siraya indigenous tribe called this place Tavocan ("land of hill and forest"). Tavakan was a village of about a thousand people; the name was also written Taffacan, Tavocan, Tavacang, and Davocan in Dutch records. The village grew into the market-town of Twa-bak-kang (Chinese: 大目降; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tōa-ba̍k-kàng), about 2 miles (3.2 km) southeast of Sin-kang (modern-day Xinshi).
After 1627, the VOC sent missionaries into neighboring districts. In 1635, George Candidius, a Dutch pastor, advised Pieter Nuyts, the leader of the Dutch VOC in Taiwan, that the VOC would have to conquer the aborigines before they could be controlled. In 1636, eighteen tribal groups, including the inhabitants of Tavocan, submitted to Dutch rule.
Since the early part of the 20th century, Sinhua has been an important fruit wholesaling center. Around 1920, dozens of baroque-influenced store buildings were constructed along what is now Jhongjheng Road. Most of these buildings survive in good condition, and the street, known as "Sinhua Old Street," has become a tourist attraction.
The Taiwan High Speed Rail track passes through the western part of the township; no station is planned, however.
The eastern half of the township lies within the Siraya National Scenic Area.
Much of the township is rural, with large areas devoted to pineapple cultivation. Sinhua is located on Taiwan Highway No. 20, also known as the Southern Cross-Island Highway, and Freeway Nos. 3 and 8. It borders Yongkang City, Shanshang, Xinshi and Guanmiao townships.
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- Campbell, William (1903). "Explanatory Notes". Formosa under the Dutch: described from contemporary records, with explanatory notes and a bibliography of the island. London: Kegan Paul. p. 548. OCLC 644323041.
- "Entry #40013 (大目降)". 臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典 [Dictionary of Frequently-Used Taiwan Minnan] (in Chinese and Hokkien). Ministry of Education, R.O.C. 2011.
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- "Administrative Districts". 高雄市政府. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2017.