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T'ai-wan - Republic of China

Taiwan is an Island of 22 million Chinese about half the size of Indiana located 90 mi. off the S.E. coast of China between Japan and the the Philippines. A democratic nation that has prospered to become one East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issue continues to be the relationship between Taiwan and China and the question of eventual reunification.

The Chinese name, Taiwan means terraced bay. It was formerly called Formosa, the beautiful island, a name give by the Portuguese in 1544.


Taiwan is located at the Tropic Cancer (23° latitude), about the same as Cuba. It is 225 mi. long and 80 mi. wide, not quite as long as and half the width Indiana. The eastern two-thirds is mostly rugged mountains. Most the population lives on the flat to gently rolling plains in the west.

It has a tropical marine climate with a rainy season during the southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year. February is the coolest with an average daily hi of 66° and low of 53°; July is the warmest with a hi of 92° and lo of 75°.


In 1544 the Portuguese "discovered" Taiwan, and called it Ilha Formosa, the beautiful island. During the next 300 years Taiwan was occupied by the Dutch, Spanish, mainland Chinese, French and Japanese.

In 1885 Taiwan was made a full province China. When the Sino Japanese war ended in 1895, China signed the Shimonoseki Treaty and Taiwan was ceded to Japan.

From 1927 - 1949/50 there was a civil war in mainland China between the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party), the governing party of the Republic of China, and Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) . The civil war was interrupted by Second Sino-Japanese War with Japan from 1937 to 1941.
After Japan's surrender at the end World War II in 1945, China's Chiang Kai-Shek appointed General Chen-Yi to take over Taiwan. In 1947 over 10,000 were killed, when Chaing sent troops to put down an uprising over corruption and chaos from the Chinese rule. Following the communist Chinese victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, fled to Taiwan and took over rule. Another uprising in 1954-55 resulted in 5,000 deaths. Over five decades the government has gradually democratized and incorporated the native population within its structure.
The major conflict in Taiwan now is not between the Nationalists and native Taiwanese, but between Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC) and the mainland, Peoples Republic of China, who still claims ownership of Taiwan.


Although the concept of the "four great ethnic groups" was alleged to be the deliberate attempt by the Hoklo-dominated Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to defuse ethnic tensions, this conception has become a dominant frame of reference for dealing with Taiwanese ethnic and national issues.

Taiwanese indigenous peoples (formerly Taiwanese aborigines), Formosan people, Austronesian Taiwanese, Yuanzhumin or Gãoshãn who arrived 6,500 years ago,comprise 2-3% of the population.

The first Chinese to arrive in Taiwan were the Hakkas, or 'guest people'. They were a persecuted minority of Han Chinese in northern China, driven from the Henan Province 1,500 years ago. They moved to the south and migrated to the Pescadores and then on to Taiwan.

ccc Hoklo people (Ordinary or Native Taiwanese) also known as Pún-sing-lâng, Han-tsî-á or Benshengren. - In 1644 there was a new wave settlers from Fujian Province the mainland Chinese province nearest Taiwan -- in China. They recognise they are of Han Chinese descent They pushed the Hakkas inland (who in turn pushed back the indigenous peoples.)
The overwhelming majority of people in Chiayi, Tainan and Pingtung are Hoklo.
They make up the majority of the population referred to as Taiwanese.

In 1949, 2 million Nationalists (KMT - Kuomingtang), led by Chiang Kai-Shek, fled to Taiwan from mainland China (Peoples Republic of China) following their defeat by the communists .

Today the population today is divided as follows:

Hoklo (Native) (1644 AD)   70%
Hakkas         (500 AD)  10-15%
Mainlanders     (1949)    14%
Indigenous                1.5-2%


Although Taiwan is the seat the Chinese Nationalist government, it is administered as a province China. The Republic of China (ROC) was founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen on the mainland in 1912 and was brought to Taiwan by the Nationalists in 1949.

In 1996 democratic presidential elections began. The ROC government held the Chinese in the UN until 1971 when the Peoples Republic (Communist China) took it over. In 1975 Chiang Kai-Shek died and his son Chiang Ching-Kuo became president. Martial law finally ended in 1987. In 1988 Chiang Ching-Kuo died and Lee Teng-Hui, a native Taiwanese, became president. CHEN Shui-bian, was elected president in 2000.

Political parties include the Chinese New Party (CNP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Kuomintang (KMT) (Nationalist Party), Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP). President Chen is a memeber of the DPP, but the KMT has a majority of the legislature.

Mainland Chinese Threat

China has claimed Taiwan is part of china since the end of World War II. Chinese president Xi Jinping has been saying Taiwan must be reunited for a while.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine and their Xi Putin talks in 2022 have increased tensions.
However, some say Russia's difficulties in Ukraine may have given China second thoughts.

China-Taiwan tensions: Xi Jinping says 'reunification' must be fulfilled BBC 2021
Opinion The China-Russia alliance is pushing Ukraine toward Taiwan Washington Post 2022
Defending Taiwan | YouTube CBS 2022.


ROC - Republic of China, founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 1912
KMT - Kuomintang - A political party also founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen


Info at: CIA FactBook, Yahoo Travel, Virtual Tourist
A Brief History of Taiwan by Huang Fu-san Professor, Department of History, National Taiwan University
Government Information Office, Taiwan Govt. Page (Need Chinese big5 character set)

Other Maps at: Govt. Info. Office, E-map at OLE, Expedia, Yahoo, U. Texas, TNJC (Tung Nan Institute of Tech.), Kaohsiung/Pingtung Area, Kaohsiung City Map
Note: Counties or Hsien were added during the Japanese occupation. e.g. Ping-Tung and Wan-Tan which are now in Ping-Tung Co. were originally part Kaohsiung Co.

See Also:
Taipei Video | National Geographic
Kaohsiung County Page (In Chinese), Kaohsiung City
Ping-Tung Page, Temple in Wantan
Return to the precious island -- Taiwan's tide waits for no man - The Nation
Taiwan News at The Taipei Times
Taiwan's Government
"The Two Faces of Rising China", NY Times, March 13, 2005
As Power Wanes, Kuomintang Struggles to Hang On in Taiwan - The New York Times March 29, 1917
Taiwanese in the U.S. and U.S.Census

Taiwanese people | Wikipedia
Return to the Chien Page.

last updated 11 Jan 2007