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Map of Taiwan



Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China
Area: slightly larger than Maryland and Delaware combined
Total area: 35,980 sq km land area: 32,260 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy
Climate: tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Terrain: eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Natural resources: small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos



Population: 21,500,583 (July 1995 est.)

  • 0-14 years: 24% (female 2,543,134; male 2,665,878)
  • 15-64 years: 68% (female 7,191,964; male 7,482,814)
  • 65 years and over: 8% (female 734,535; male 882,258)
  • (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.93% (1995 est.) 


  • noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
  • adjective: Chinese

Ethnic divisions:

Taiwanese 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, aborigine 2%


mixture of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%


Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects


  • age 15 and over can read and write (1980)
  • total population: 86% (male: 93% female: 79%)


First settled by proto-Malay people before the Christian era, Taiwan saw sporadic Chinese settlement from the thirteenth century. The most significant influx occurred between the 16th and 18th century as the Chinese pushed the aboriginal off the fertile plains into the mountain. Taiwan was used as a base by Ming loyalists to attack the Manchus in the late seventeenth century. The loyalists were finally defeated by the Manchus, and the island officially annexed to the Chinese empire in the 17th century. Not until the 19th century did the island acquire status as a province. In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895. Taiwan remained a colony of Japan till the end of the Second World War. The infrastructure was heavily damaged during the war, but the educational legacy benefited the island. Along with retrocession, came the government troops and officials of the Nationalist Chinese government. Tension soon arose between some sectors of the local population and the new government. The government, in the midst of civil war on the mainland, ordered the mass arrest and execution of many of the intelligentsia on the island. This event and the subsequent martial law rule generated much hostility among some in the local population. On the other hand, the government has gained credit through its land reform program, a well managed economic development program that has raised the standard of living of the population to one of the highest in Asia, and a peaceful evolution toward democracy. Initially recognized by many other countries as the sole legal representative of all China, the government is now recognized by only a few. Full democracy and direct presidential elections were introduced in the early 1990s.




  • conventional long form: Republic of China
  • conventional short form: Taiwan
  • local long form: Chung Hwa Ming Kuo
  • local short form: T'ai-wan


multiparty democratic regime; opposition political parties legalized in March, 1989

Capital: Taipei

National holiday:

National Day, 10 October (1911) (Anniversary of the Revolution)


1 January 1947, amended in 1992, presently undergoing revision.

note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan's legislature have opened public debate on the island's national identity; advocates of Taiwan independence, both within the DPP and the ruling Kuomintang, oppose the ruling party's traditional stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; the aims 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


red with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays




Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with considerable government guidance of investment and foreign trade and partial government ownership of some large banks and industrial firms. Real growth in GNP has averaged about 9% a year during the past three decades. Export growth has been even faster and has provided the impetus for industrialization. Inflation and unemployment are remarkably low. Agriculture contributes about 4% to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Taiwan currently ranks as number 13 among major trading countries. Traditional labor-intensive industries are steadily being 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.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $257 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 6% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $12,070 (1994 est.) 

Exports: $93 billion (f.o.b., 1994)

  • commodities: electrical machinery 19.7%, electronic products 19.6%, textiles 10.9%, footwear 3.3%, foodstuffs 1.0%, plywood and wood products 0.9% (1993 est.)
  • partners: US 27.6%, Hong Kong 21.7%, EC countries 15.2%, Japan 10.5% (1994 est.) 

Imports: $85.1 billion (c.i.f., 1994)

  • commodities: machinery and equipment 15.7%, electronic products 15.6%, chemicals 9.8%, iron and steel 8.5%, crude oil 3.9%, foodstuffs 2.1% (1993 est.)
  • partners: Japan 30.1%, US 21.7%, EC countries 17.6% (1993 est.)


electronics, textiles, chemicals, clothing, food processing, plywood, sugar milling, cement, shipbuilding, petroleum refining 

Currency: 1 New Taiwan dollar (NT$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates:

New Taiwan dollars per US$1 - 26.2 (1994), 26.6 (1993), 25.4 (1992), 25.748 (1991), 27.108 (1990), 26.407 (1989)

North Korea
South Korea

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