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This article is about the geographical island of Taiwan. See Republic of China for the state and Taiwan Province for its provincial government of the same name.

Taiwanese redirects here; see Taiwanese (linguistics) for discussion about languages.

The island of Taiwan (Traditional: 臺灣, Simplified: 台湾, Pinyin: Táiwān; Taiwanese: Ti-on) is located off the coast of Mainland China in the Pacific Ocean. It is also known by its Portuguese name Formosa, which means "beautiful". The island, along with the Pescadores Islands, is administered as part of the Province of Taiwan by the government of the Republic of China (ROC), which was the former government of mainland China before its 1949 defeat by the Communist Party of China. Taiwan's largest city Taipei serves as the provisional capital of the Republic of China, while Chung-hsing-hsin-ts'un is the capital of Taiwan province.

In addition to Taiwan, the Republic of China also controls Kinmen and Lienchiang counties of Fujian province. However, due to Taiwan's status of composing most of the ROC current jurisdiction, the word "Taiwan" is usually used synonymously with the Republic of China, while the word "China" is used synonymously with the People's Republic of China.

The political status of Taiwan and the Republic of China is a controversial issue. The People's Republic of China considers Taiwan part of its sovereign territory. An independence movement exists on Taiwan calling for the creation of a Republic of Taiwan.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Political divisions
3 Geography
4 Culture
5 Related articles
6 External links


Main article: History of Taiwan

Taiwan's indigenous population was first joined and intermarried with male traders and seasonal workers from Mainland China primarily during a brief period of Dutch control between 1624 and 1662. The Dutch were ousted from the island in 1662 by Zheng Chenggong (also known as Koxinga), a Ming loyalist, who hoped to marshall his troops on the island. Following the defeat of Zheng's grandson to an armada led by Admiral Shi Lang, Zheng's followers were expatriated to the furthest reaches of the Qing empire leaving approxamately 7000 Chinese on Taiwan. The Qing government wrestled with its Taiwan policy to reduce piracy and vagrancy in the area ,which led to a series of edicts to manage immigration and respect aboriginal land rights. Illegal immigrants continued to enter Taiwan as rentors of the large plots aboriginal lands under contracts that usually involved marriage, while the border between tax paying lands and "savage" lands expanded east. Following the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, China was forced to cede Taiwan to Japan in perpetuity allowing a grace period for those wishing to remain Chinese subjects to sell their property and return to the mainland. The island's military occupation by the ROC began in 1945 following Japan's defeat in World War II. The severe clash between a mainland military administration under Chen Yi and native Taiwanese led to the bloody 228 incident in which government troops massacred 30,000 protestors. In the San Francisco Peace Treaty which came into force on April 28, 1952, Japan formally renounced all right, claim, and title to Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores.

The Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), which at the time controlled the government of the ROC, retreated to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China ended in the Communists' favor in 1949, bringing with them some 2 million refugees from Mainland China. Since then, Taiwan has developed a prosperous and dynamic economy, becoming one of the East Asian Tigers.

Taiwan remained under martial law for 4 decades until 1987 and one-party rule until 1991 when President Chiang Ching-kuo gradually liberalized and democratized the system.

See also

Political divisions

Taiwan Island contains all but one county of
Taiwan Province: 15 counties and all five province-administered cities. Outside of the provincial boundary, Taiwan also contains two municipalities -- Kaohsiung City and Taipei City -- which are adminstered directly by the central government. Penghu (the Pescadores) is the only county not on Taiwan.

See also: Political divisions of the Republic of China


Main article: Geography of Taiwan

The island of Taiwan lies some 200 km off the southeastern coast of Mainland China across the Taiwan Strait, with the East China Sea to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest. The island is characterised by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds that consist mostly of rugged mountains, running in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population. Taiwan's highest point is the Yu Shan at 3,997 m.

Taiwan's climate is marine tropical. The rainy season lasts from June to August during the southwest monsoon, though cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year. Natural hazards include typhoons and earthquakes.


Taiwan's culture is a blend of its distinctive Chinese heritage and Western influences. Fine arts, folk traditions, and popular culture embody traditional and modern, Asian, and Western motifs. One of Taiwan's greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses over 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain. This collection was moved from the mainland in 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan. The collection is so extensive that only 1% is on display at any one time.

Most people on Taiwan speak Mandarin Chinese, which has been the medium of instruction in the schools for more than four decades. About 70 percent of the people on Taiwan also speak one of the Southern Fujianese dialects, Min-nan, also known as Taiwanese. The Hakka, which make about about 10 percent of the population, have a distinct Hakka dialect. Between 1895 and 1945, under Japanese rule, the official language on Taiwan was Japanese, and many older residents still spoke that language fluently.

About half of the Taiwanese population can be considered religious believers, most of whom identify themselves as Buddhists or Taoists. At the same time there is a strong belief in folk religion throughout the island. These are not mutually exclusive, and many people practice a combination of the three. Confucianism also is an honoured school of thought and ethical code. Christian churches have been active on Taiwan for many years, a majority of which are Protestant and with Presbyterians playing a particularly significant role.

See also

Related articles

External links