|Taiwan||Introduction||Back to Top|
Taiwan or Formosa, island in East Asia, and, since the Communist victory in 1949 on the Chinese mainland, the seat of the Chinese Nationalist government (not recognized by the People's Republic of China). It is separated from the Chinese mainland by the Taiwan (Formosa) Strait and is bordered on the north by the East China Sea, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, and on the south by the South China Sea. In addition to the island of Taiwan, the country includes the or Pescadores, the small Quemoy Islands off the mainland city of Amoy (Xiamen), and the Matsu group off Fuzhou (Foochow). The People's Republic of China claims Taiwan as one of the provinces of its republic. The area of Taiwan is about 36,000 sq km (13,900 sq mi). The capital and largest city of Taiwan is T'aipei.Official Name- Republic of China (Taiwan)
|Taiwan||Provinces||Back to Top|
since in the past the authorities claimed to be the government of all China, the central administrative divisions include the provinces of Fu-chien (some 20 offshore islands of Fujian Province including Quemoy and Matsu) and Taiwan (the island of Taiwan and the Pescadores islands); note - the more commonly referenced administrative divisions are those of Taiwan Province - 16 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities* (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities** (chuan-shih, singular and plural); Chang-hua, Chia-i, Chia-i*, Chi-lung*, Hsin-chu, Hsin-chu*, Hua-lien, I-lan, Kao-hsiung, Kao-hsiung**, Miao-li, Nan-t'ou, P'eng-hu, P'ing-tung, T'ai-chung, T'ai-chung*, T'ai-nan, T'ai-nan*, T'ai-pei, T'ai-pei**, T'ai-tung, T'ao-yuan, and Yun-lin; the provincial capital is at Chung-hsing-hsin-ts'un note: Taiwan uses the Wade-Giles system for romanization
|Taiwan||People||Back to Top|
Taiwan’s estimated population in 2001 was 22,370,461, yielding an average population density of 621 persons per sq km (1,609 per sq mi). The population is unevenly distributed, however, as most people live on the plains and basins west of the Chungyang Range. Taipei, Kaohsiung, and T’aichung are the three largest cities. Metropolitan Taipei is the political, economic, cultural, and transportation center of Taiwan. Kaohsiung is the major industrial center in the south and Taiwan’s largest commercial port. T’aichung is the major industrial center of central Taiwan.
The original inhabitants of Taiwan were Malayo-Polynesian aborigines, who are now organized into quite diverse ethnolinguistic groups. The largest of these groups are the Ami, Atayal, and Paiwan. Chinese immigrants largely displaced or assimilated the plains aborigines and carried on a protracted conflict with the mountain aborigines, who were subdued only by the Japanese. The aborigines, nearly all of whom now live in the foothills and highlands, constitute about 2 percent of the population. Although several aboriginal dialects and many tribal customs have been retained, the aborigines have increasingly become assimilated, linguistically and culturally, into modern Taiwanese society.
|Taiwan||History||Back to Top|
Archaeological evidence consisting of primitive utensils indicates Taiwan was inhabited by humans as far back as 10,000 years ago. Bands of Japanese are said to have conquered portions of the island in the 12th century, and from the 15th century onward Japan regarded the eastern half of Taiwan as its possession. In 1590 the Portuguese became the first known Europeans to visit the island, which they called Formosa (Portuguese for “beautiful”). Subsequently, the Spanish attempted to found permanent settlements, but they were thwarted by the Dutch, who succeeded in taking possession of the P’enghu Islands in 1622. Three years later the Dutch established forts on the southeastern coast of Taiwan.
Taiwan was known to the Chinese as early as the 3rd century AD, but settlement by the Chinese was not significant until the first quarter of the 17th century after recurrent famines in Fukien Province encouraged emigration of Fukienese from the mainland. Before then the island was a base of operations for Chinese and Japanese pirates. The Portuguese, who first visited the island in 1590 and named it Ilha Formosa (“Beautiful Island”), made several unsuccessful attempts at settlement. The Dutch and Spaniards established more lasting settlements, the Dutch at An-p'ing in southwestern Taiwan in 1624, the Spaniards in 1626 at Chi-lung in the north. Until 1646, when the Dutch seized the Spanish settlements, northern Taiwan was under Spanish domination, the south under Dutch control. The Dutch were expelled in 1661 by Cheng Ch'eng-kung, a man of mixed Chinese-Japanese parentage and a supporter of the defeated Ming emperors, who used the island as a centre of opposition to the Ch'ing (Manchu) regime.
In 1644 the Manchus of northeastern China defeated the Ming dynasty and established the Qing dynasty. Meanwhile, a group of Ming followers led by Cheng Ch’eng-kung, known in the West as Koxinga, drove the Dutch from Taiwan and occupied the island’s southwestern portion. Cheng established a formal Chinese government, ruling Taiwan as a Ming enclave. It was not until 1683 that the island finally fell to Qing rule. Thereafter, immigration to Taiwan from mainland China increased greatly. As a result of Britain’s victory against China in the Opium Wars and the ratification of the Treaty of Tientsin in 1860, two ports on Taiwan’s western coast opened to foreign ships. Roman Catholic and Protestant missions were established on the island soon after.
|Taiwan||Culture||Back to Top|
Many ancient Chinese customs and holidays are still observed in Taiwan, including the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Chinese New Year, and the Feast of Lanterns. The birthday celebration of Chinese philosopher Confucius is held annually on September 28. It is known as National Teacher’s Day, and people observe it by performing traditional rituals at temples throughout Taiwan. Most people in big cities also celebrate Christmas, although not as a religious holiday.
The people of Taiwan enjoy a rich heritage of traditional Chinese culture and a lively fusion of modern Chinese and Western cultures. The government attempts to preserve and revitalize such traditional arts as painting, calligraphy, ceramics, and music by sponsoring concerts, classes, and competitions. The National Palace Museum in Taipei houses an immense collection of ancient Chinese paintings and books, pottery, porcelain, curios, and sculptures. Elements of traditional popular culture include Chinese opera, Taiwanese opera and puppet theatre, and Chinese and aboriginal folk dances. All major mainland regional cuisines are represented, particularly in Taipei.
The arts in Taiwan draw from a diverse heritage, encompassing aboriginal art, folk art, traditional fine arts, and modern art. Chinese calligraphy and traditional painting make up the mainstream of traditional Chinese fine arts. Other art forms include sculpture, ceramics, cloisonné, jade carving, and flower arranging. Performing arts include Chinese opera, Taiwanese opera, and drama. Taiwan’s thriving film industry produces more than 100 movies annually; some receive international acclaim.
|Taiwan||Life||Back to Top|
Most people in Taiwan have traditional values based on Confucian ethics, which include the principles of good conduct, practical wisdom, and proper social relationships. Confucianism, however, developed in a largely rural society and people now confront the challenge of maintaining these values in Taiwan’s modern, industrialized society. Still, some traditional values are strong, including piety toward parents, ancestor worship, a strong emphasis on education and work, and the importance of “face,” or maintaining one’s dignity in public. Other values are changing, especially in urban areas. Since industrialization, women enjoy greater freedom and a higher social status, individual creativity is regarded as equally important as social conformity, and acquiring material goods and fame is increasingly important.
|Taiwan||Land||Back to Top|
Taiwan is part of the great island system rimming the western Pacific Ocean. The island is formed by a great fault block trending north-northeast to south-southwest and tilted toward the west. The more gently rising western face of the block borders the shallow Taiwan Strait, under which the continental shelf connects the island to the Chinese mainland. The terraced tablelands and alluvial plains along the western face of the block provide the principal areas of dense population and the major cities. The steeply sloping eastern face of the block marks the edge of the continental shelf and the beginning of the Pacific Ocean. Aside from one major rift valley, the east coast provides little room for human settlement.
|Taiwan||Plants and Animal||Back to Top|
Animal life includes deer, wild boars, bears, monkeys, wildcats, panthers, and snakes.
|Taiwan||Economy||Back to Top|
After retreating from the mainland in 1949, the leaders of the government on Taiwan instituted land reforms that increased agricultural productivity. In the 1960s Taiwan adopted export-oriented policies, establishing export processing zones with incentives to attract direct foreign investment. Meanwhile, the government also pursued industrialization. A strong manufacturing sector developed, with most products consisting of labor-intensive goods. During the 1980s the focus of manufacturing shifted to capital- and technology-intensive commodities, such as personal computers and machinery. In an effort to join the World Trade Organization, an international body that promotes and enforces trade laws, Taiwan’s government began liberalizing the economy in the 1990s by deregulating banking, finance, the stock market, investment, and trade.
During the 20th century Taiwan's economy has been transformed from agricultural to industrial, and the island's postwar economic development has been one of the most spectacular of any developing country. In constant prices, gross national product increased more than 10 times between the mid-1950s and mid-1980s. The major reason was vigorous export promotion in an expanding global economy. Per capita product and personal income quintupled, while a relatively equal distribution of income became more equitable. The major reasons were the initially broad distribution of ownership of land and capital and the high returns to labour, first in agriculture and later in the export industries. The obligation to increase and repay family resources has motivated the individual Chinese and has produced much of the rapid growth of Taiwan's economy. This growth has proceeded in three phases. The first (c. 1905–55) was the modernization of agriculture and the development of other primary or extractive industries. The second (c. 1935–85) was the development of modern secondary manufacturing industries. The third (since 1965) began the modernization of service industries.
Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8% during the past three decades. Exports have grown even faster and have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. Inflation and unemployment are low; the trade surplus is substantial; and foreign reserves are the world's fourth largest. Agriculture contributes 3% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and technology-intensive industries. Taiwan has become a major investor in China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The tightening of labor markets has led to an influx of foreign workers, both legal and illegal. Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered little compared with many of its neighbors from the Asian financial crisis in 1998-99. Growth in 2001 will depend largely on conditions in Taiwan's export markets and may be about 5%.
|Taiwan||Communications||Back to Top|
general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean); submarine cables to Japan (Okinawa), Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Middle East, and Western Europe (1999)
|Taiwan||Languages||Back to Top|
Min, Hakka, and Mandarin all belong to the Sino-Tibetan languages family. Taiwan also has a small population of aborigines who comprise about 2 percent of the total population. There are nine major aborigine tribes, each speaking a different form of Formosan, a member of the Austronesian languages family. Mandarin Chinese is Taiwan’s official language.
|Taiwan||Politics||Back to Top|
Chinese New Party or CNP [HAU Lang-bin]; Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [Frank HSIEH, chairman]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [LIEN Chan, chairman]; New Party or NP [LI Ching-hwa]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG, chairman]; other minor parties Political pressure groups and leaders: Taiwan independence movement, various business and environmental groups note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan's legislature have opened public debate on the island's national identity; a broad popular consensus has developed that Taiwan currently enjoys de facto independence and - whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence - that Taiwan's people must have the deciding voice; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually reunify with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN; other organizations supporting Taiwan independence include the World United Formosans for Independence and the Organization for Taiwan Nation Building
|Taiwan||Government||Back to Top|
The current constitution of the government on Taiwan was adopted during the Chinese civil war in 1947, two years before the leaders of the government retreated to the island from the mainland. A series of additional articles became effective in 1991, 1992, 1994, and 1997. Among the most significant changes was the 1994 adoption of presidential elections by popular vote. Voting is universal for all citizens aged 20 or older.
|Taiwan||Legal||Back to Top|
Legal system: based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal Executive branch: chief of state: President Shui-bian CHEN (20 May 2000) and Vice President Annette LU (since 20 May 2000) head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) Chun-hsiung CHANG (since NA October 2000) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) In-jaw LAI (since NA October 2000) cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by the president elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 18 March 2000 (next to be held NA March 2004); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier election results: Shui-bian CHEN elected president; percent of vote - Shui-bian CHEN (DPP) 39.3%, James SOONG (independent) 36.84%, LIEN Chan (KMT) 23.1%, HSU Hsin-liang (independent) 0.63%, LEE Ao (CNP) 0.13% Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Yuan (225 seats - 168 elected by popular vote, 41 elected on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties, eight elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties, eight elected by popular vote among the aboriginal populations; members serve three-year terms) and unicameral National Assembly (300 seats, note - total number of seats has been reduced from 334 to 300 since the last election; members are elected by proportional representation based on the election of the Legislative Yuan and serve four-year terms) elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 5 December 1998 (next to be held NA December 2001); National Assembly - last held 23 March 1996 (next to be held NA June 2002) election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - KMT 46%, DPP 29%, CNP 7%, independents 10%, other parties 8%; seats by party - KMT 123, DPP 70, CNP 11, independents 15, other parties 6; subsequent to the election there have been some changes in the distribution of seats in the Legislative Yuan due to new party formation and party defections, the new distribution is as follows - KMT 114, DPP 66, PFP 17, NP 9, other/independent 19; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - KMT 55%, DPP 30%, CNP 14%, other 1%; seats by party - KMT 183, DPP 99, CNP 46, other 6 Judicial branch: Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly; note - beginning in 2003, justices will be appointed by the president with the consent of the Legislative Yuan)
|Taiwan||organization||Back to Top|
APEC, AsDB, BCIE, ICC, ICFTU, IFRCS, IOC, WCL, WTrO (observer)
|Taiwan||Education||Back to Top|
In 1952 less than 60 percent of people over the age of 15 could read and write. Educational reforms in 1968 extended compulsory education to 9 years: Taiwan’s literacy rate climbed to 94 percent by 1994. Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15, when students complete junior high school. About 20 percent of junior high graduates pass the high school entrance exam and about two-thirds attend vocational schools. Taiwan has more than 100 colleges and universities, with a total attendance of more than 700,000 students. Major institutions of higher education include National Taiwan University, in Taipei; National Central University, in Chungli; National Chunghsing University, in T’aichung; National Cheng Kung University, in T’ainan; and National Chung-shan University, in Kaohsiung.
|Taiwan||Defence||Back to Top|
Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force, Coastal Patrol and Defense Command, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces
Military manpower - military age: 19 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 6,575,689 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 5,025,856 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 198,766 (2001 est.)
|Taiwan||International Disputes||Back to Top|
involved in complex dispute over the Spratly Islands with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does China
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