country in East Asia

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC; Chinese: 中華民國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó), is an island country (not recognised by almost every country) of the coast of China. The Republic of China once governed all of China (from 1911 to 1949), but moved to the island of Taiwan after a Chinese civil war. In the years since, the PRC (People's Republic of China) has become the recognized government of China (replacing the ROC at the United Nations in 1971), and the status of the ROC has been left disputed.

Republic of China
Zhōnghuá Mínguó[a]
Anthem: 中華民國國歌
Zhōnghuá Mínguó guógē
"National Anthem of the Republic of China"
Flag anthem: 中華民國國旗歌
Zhōnghuá Míngúo Gúoqígē
"National Flag Anthem of the Republic of China"
National seal
"Seal of the Republic of China"

National flower

Plum blossom
25°04′N 121°31′E / 25.067°N 121.517°E / 25.067; 121.517
Largest cityNew Taipei
Official languagesNone designated (de jure)

Mandarin (de facto)[3]

Vernacular Chinese (used in more serious scenarios)[4]
Official scriptTraditional Chinese[5]
National languages[d]
Ethnic groups
>95% Han Taiwanese
—70% Hoklo
—14% Hakka
—14% Waishengren
2% Indigenous[9][e]
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
• President
Kahmesh Kumaar
Lai Ching-te
• Premier
Chen Chien-jen
Yu Shyi-kun
Chen Chu
Hsu Tzong-li
Huang Jong-tsun
LegislatureLegislative Yuan
• Establishment
1 January 1912
25 October 1945
25 December 1947
7 December 1949
16 July 1992
• Total
36,197 km2 (13,976 sq mi)[11][12]
• 2020 estimate
23,568,378[13] (56th)
• 2010 census
• Density
650/km2 (1,683.5/sq mi) (10th)
GDP (PPP)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $1.403 trillion[15] (19th)
• Per capita
Increase $56,959[15] (13th)
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $682.702 billion[15] (21st)
• Per capita
Increase $32,123[16] (29th)
Gini (2017)Negative increase 34.1[17]
HDI (2019)Increase 0.916[18]
very high · 23rd
CurrencyNew Taiwan dollar (NT$) (TWD)
Time zoneUTC+8 (National Standard Time)
Date format
Mains electricity110 V–60 Hz[f]
Driving sideright
Calling code+886
ISO 3166 codeTW
Internet TLD

The ROC includes the main island of Taiwan plus nearby islands (Pescadores islands and parts of Fujian). Taiwan is located southeast of the Chinese mainland, south of Japan, and north of the Philippines. The capital is Taipei.

Taiwan has also been called Formosa, a Portuguese name which means "beautiful" in Portuguese.

Most people living in Taiwan (called Taiwanese) are Han. Taiwan has three large Han groups. They speak different dialects (variations) of Chinese and their ancestors came from different places: the Southern Fujianese (from China's Fujian Province), the Hakka (from China), and Mainlanders (from Mainland China after 1948).

There are also Taiwanese Aborigines (native tribes) who lived in Taiwan before the Han came to live there.

The largest cities in Taiwan are the capital, Taipei, and the port city of Kaohsiung.


  • In AD 230, Taiwan described as "Yizhou" in the account of an expedition undertaken by the Eastern Wu dynasty of China.[20]
  • In 1517, A Portuguese discovery ship sees this island and renames it "Ilha Formosa", or "Beautiful Island" in Portuguese.
  • 17th century: From 1624 until 1661 Dutch colonize the southern part of Formosa and set up a colonial administration in Fort Zeelandia, and the Spanish colonize the north and set up a colonial administration in Fuerte Santo Domingo or Fort Santo Domingo. The Dutch later defeat the Spaniards and take full control of Formosa.
  • 1662, Chinese general Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong) defeats the Dutch at the Siege of Fort Zeelandia and then controls Taiwan.[21]
  • 1683, Shi Lang,[22] the commander-in-chief of the Qing China fleets destroy the power of Zheng Chenggong's descendants in the 1660s, and lead the conquest of the Zheng family's Kingdom of Tungning. Taiwan becomes Qing territory.
  • 1860: Taiwan becomes a treaty port after the Treaty of Tientsin, opening the island to contact with the world.
  • 1874: Japan invades southern Taiwan, seemingly to "punish" the natives there for the murder of ship-wrecked Okinawan fishermen in 1871, but actually to establish a colony. Japanese forces withdraw later in the year after the Meiji and Qing empires nearly went to war.
  • 1884-1885: Taiwan is blockaded by French navy during the Sino-Franco War.
  • 1895: Qing China loses the First Sino-Japanese War and gives Taiwan to Japan permanently (Treaty of Shimonoseki).
  • 1911: The Xinhai Revolution ends China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing dynasty, and leads to the establishment of the Republic of China.
  • 1927: Start of the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) party and the Communist Party of China (CCP). The war would later be put on hold, so the two sides could fight Japan together during World War II.
  • 1945: Japan loses World War II to the U.S. and its allies
  • 1947: Taiwanese widely protest governmental corruption under the Nationalists. Chiang Kai-shek sends in the army to restore order, killing tens of thousands. Some Taiwanese began the Taiwan independence movement.
  • 1949:
    • The Nationalists (KMT) lose the civil war, which resumed after World War II, and escape to the island of Taiwan. They set up Taipei as the temporary capital of Republic of China (ROC).
    • The Communist Party of China (CCP) establishes Beijing as the capital of The People's Republic of China (PRC).
  • 1951: Japan signs the Treaty of San Francisco (1951) with the U.S. and 47 other countries, formally denouncing any claim to Taiwan.
  • 1952: Japan and the ROC sign the Treaty of Taipei, which is similar to the Treaty of San Francisco.
  • 1971: Taiwan is expelled from the United Nations and replaced by the PRC.
  • 1979: The KMT government jails many democracy activists who opposed it (Kaohsiung Incident).
  • 1986: The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is formed; it is the first party to form in the ROC other than the KMT. It remains illegal for the first year, but the KMT government does not try to ban it.
  • 1987: The KMT government lifts martial law after almost 40 years.
  • 1988: Lee Teng-hui (KMT) became president after Chiang Ching-kuo dies.
  • 1995: Lee Teng-hui (KMT) became the first president elected by the people.
  • 2000: Chen Shui-bian (DPP) became president.
  • 2004: Chen Shui-bian is re-elected after a controversial assassination attempt, in which many KMT-supporters believed, was staged by Chen. However, after unwillingness to cooperate about his medical records the investigation was inconclusive.
  • 2008: Former president Chen Sui-bian and his wife are arrested for corruption and money laundering.
  • 2008: Ma Ying-jeou (KMT) was elected as the president of the Republic of China and thus creating a change of political parties for the second time.
  • 2009: Kaohsiung hosts the 2009 World Games.
  • 2016: Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) is elected as the first female president of Taiwan.
  • 2019: Same-sex marriage is legalized[23]

Status of Taiwan


There are two Chinese governments: The People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC). Today, in reality, the PRC government controls mainland China, and the ROC government governs Taiwan. The ROC government governed most of China mainland from 1911 to 1949, before losing control of China mainland to the PRC. The ROC constitution still claims ownership of all of China.

The People's Republic of China claims ownership of Taiwan, but it has never ruled over the island of Taiwan. The last time Taiwan and the mainland were united under one government was under the rule of the ROC.

Although Taiwan's status prevents it from participating in some international organizations, polls show that most Taiwanese prefer to keep things as they are (referred to as the status quo), rather than declare formal independence (and risk inviting an attack by communist China), or to be "reunified" with China.

Most countries of the world recognize the People's Republic of China as China. Although Taiwan is not recognized by the UN as a sovereign nation,[24] most countries still have close economic and cultural relations with Taiwan. Countries often set up de facto embassies in Taiwan — officially non-government organizations — that perform the same functions as an embassy.

In 1992, the ROC and PRC agreed to a consensus that there was only "one China" but that both sides could continue to disagree on what that meant.

In March 2004, China's government passed a law called the Anti-Secession Law. The law requires the Chinese military to invade Taiwan immediately if they declare independence.[25] Tsai Ing-wen, the elected President of Taiwan, says Taiwan is already an independent country and does not need to declare independence.[26]

President of communist China, President Xi Jinping, has vowed "reunification" with Taiwan by any means, including through military force.[27] Joe Biden, President of The United States, has said that the US will defend Taiwan from Chinese attack.[28] Australia has said they would join the US,[29] and Japan has indicated they may as well.

Polls show a majority of people in Taiwan want to never be a part of the People's Republic of China. Some of these people believe in complete Taiwan independence and want to rename the ROC (Taiwan) to "Republic of Taiwan" so Taiwan can participate in international affairs. Most others want the status quo, which means keeping everything the way it is now. A small minority wish to someday unite with the People's Republic of China; they want Chinese reunification.


Taiwan is mostly mountainous in the east, with gently sloping plains in the west. The Penghu Islands are west of the main island.

The island of Taiwan is about 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of China. It is across the Taiwan Strait. It has an area of 35,883 km2 (13,855 sq mi).[30]

The East China Sea is to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest.[31]

Taiwan's highest point is Yu Shan (Jade Mountain). It is 3,952 meters high (12,966 ft). There are five other peaks over 3,500 meters.

West of Taiwan Island, there are three small groups of islands that also belong to ROC. They are:

  • The Pescadores (Penghu, 澎湖列島): They also are part of Taiwan Province.
  • Quemoy (Kinmen, 金門): A part of Fujian province, called Kinmen County(金門縣).
  • Matsu (馬祖列島): the smallest county, called Lienchiang County(連江縣), also part of Fujian province
  • Diaoyutai Islands:The Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚臺列嶼|Diàoyútái Lièyû|ㄉㄧㄠˋㄩˊㄊㄞˊㄌㄧㄝˋㄩˊ) are a group of islands where nobody lives that the Republic of China (ROC) claims belong to them, but also claimed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Japan. In Japanese, the islands are known as the Senkaku Islands (尖閣諸島, Senkaku Shotō?). The islands are now under the control of Japan.
  • Dong-Sha Islands:The Pratas Islands or Dong-Sha Islands (東沙羣島) consists of three islands in the northeastern South China Sea, 340 km southeast of Hong Kong.
  • Taiping (Traditional Chinese: 太平島|Tàipíngdǎo|ㄊㄞˋㄆㄧㄥˊㄉㄠˇ), also known as Itu Aba, is the largest of the Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) in the South China Sea.


Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan.

The largest cities in Taiwan are:

Rank Division name Chinese name Type Population
1 New Taipei City 新北市 Special municipality 3,903,745
2 Kaohsiung City 高雄市 Special municipality 2,772,461
3 Taichung City 臺中市 (台中市) Special municipality 2,655,456
4 Taipei City 臺北市 (台北市) Special municipality 2,635,766
5 Taoyuan City 桃園市 Special municipality 2,163,728
6 Tainan City 臺南市 (台南市) Special municipality 1,874,724
7 Hsinchu City 新竹市 Provincial city 417,335
8 Keelung City 基隆市 Provincial city 381,770
9 Chiayi City 嘉義市 Provincial city 272,128
10 Changhua City 彰化市 County-controlled city 236,447
11 Pingtung City 屏東市 County-controlled city 210,275
12 Zhubei City 竹北市 County-controlled city 144,234
13 Hualien City 花蓮市 County-controlled city 108,938
14 Taitung City 臺東市 County-controlled city 108,648
15 Douliu City 斗六市 County-controlled city 107,012
16 Nantou City 南投市 County-controlled city 104,069
17 Magong 馬公市 County-controlled city 104,069

Administrative divisions



There are administrative divisions in different levels and types.

157 Districts (區 qū ㄑㄩ), 17 Country-controlled cities (縣轄市 xiànxiáshì ㄒㄧㄢˋㄒㄧㄚˊㄕˋ), 41 Urban Townships (鎮 zhèn ㄓㄣˋ), and 153 Rural Townships (鄉 xiāng ㄒㄧㄤ) stand the 3rd level. Districts stand under either Special municipalities or Provincial cities; Country-controlled cities, Urban Townships, and Rural Townships stand under Counties.

Villages (里 lǐ ㄌㄧˇ or 村 cūn ㄘㄨㄣ) stand the 4th level, and Neighborhoods (鄰 lín ㄌㄧㄣˊ) stand the 5th level.



Most Taiwanese people speak Standard Chinese known as Mandarin, and others speak local dialects such as Min Nan (Taiwanese) or Hakka. The Cantonese language, spoken in parts of southern China (for example, the province of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau), is not spoken in Taiwan. A small percentage of Aboriginal Taiwanese speak aboriginal languages, but the rest of the Chinese people have treated them badly, and many of these people, and their languages, struggle to survive. Some older Taiwanese people who went to school while the country was under Japanese rule can speak Japanese.

After the Nationalist government fled the Mainland in 1949, they brought Mandarin and promoted it in Taiwan. Then everyone in the ROC had to learn Mandarin. But, unlike the people in Mainland China, the Taiwanese never changed to simplified Chinese characters and so they have always used traditional Chinese characters. In the past, students were not allowed to speak their first language in school and were expected to speak only Mandarin. Taiwanese, Hakka, and native languages were considered bad until the early 1990s, when education in these languages began to be taught in some school systems. They were promoted, but by this time, many young people could speak only Mandarin.

Currently, nearly one third of Taiwanese report knowing some amount of English. Full English fluency is not common, however. The government plans to expand English education and make it an official language by 2030.

  1. See Names of the Republic of China.
  2. Taipei is the official seat of government of the Republic of China although the Constitution of the Republic of China does not specify the de jure capital.[1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Not designated but meets legal definition
  4. A national language in Taiwan is legally defined as "a natural language used by an original people group of Taiwan and the Taiwan Sign Language".[8]
  5. Mixed indigenous-Han ancestry is included in the figure for Han Chinese.
  6. 220 V is also used for high power appliances such as air conditioners


  1. "Since the implementation of the Act Governing Principles for Editing Geographical Educational Texts (地理敎科書編審原則) in 1997, the guiding principle for all maps in geographical textbooks was that Taipei was to be marked as the capital with a label stating: "Location of the Central Government"". 4 December 2013. Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  2. "Interior minister reaffirms Taipei is ROC's capital". Taipei Times. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
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  4. "法律統一用語表-常見公文用語說明" (PDF) (in Chinese). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  5. "行政院第3251次院會決議". www.ey.gov.tw (in Chinese). December 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  6. "Indigenous Languages Development Act". law.moj.gov.tw. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  7. "Hakka Basic Act". law.moj.gov.tw. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  8. 國家語言發展法. law.moj.gov.tw (in Chinese). Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  9. The Republic of China Yearbook 2016. Executive Yuan, R.O.C. 2016. p. 10. ISBN 9789860499490. Retrieved 31 May 2020. Ethnicity: Over 95 percent Han Chinese (including Holo, Hakka and other groups originating in mainland China); 2 percent indigenous Austronesian peoples
  10. "Pew Data on Taiwan religion". Archived from the original on 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
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  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2020". IMF.org. International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
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  19. "ICANN Board Meeting Minutes". ICANN. 25 June 2010.
  20. Knapp, Ronald G. (1980). China's Island Frontier: Studies in the Historical Geography of Taiwan. The University of Hawaii. p. 5.
  21. "Siege of Fort Zeelandia", Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2020-12-31, retrieved 2022-08-17
  22. "Shi Lang", Wikipedia, 2022-05-12, retrieved 2022-08-17
  23. https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Taiwan%27s_legislature_first_in_Asia_to_legalize_same-sex_marriage
  24. Sigrid Winkler (June 2012). "Taiwan's UN Dilemma: To Be or Not To Be". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  25. John J. Tkacik, Jr. "China's New "Anti-Secession Law" Escalates Tensions in the TaiwanStrait". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  26. News, Taiwan (2020-01-16). "Tsai says Taiwan is already independent, China invasion 'very costly' | Taiwan News | 2020-01-16 09:32:00". Taiwan News. Retrieved 2021-11-03. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  27. Carlos Garcia and Yew Lun Tian (October 2021). "China's Xi vows 'reunification' with Taiwan". Reuters. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  28. Trevor Hunnicutt (October 2021). "Biden says United States would come to Taiwan's defense". Reuters. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  29. News, Taiwan (2021-10-25). "Australia will support US response if China attacks Taiwan: Australian defense chief | Taiwan News | 2021-10-25 20:54:00". Taiwan News. Retrieved 2021-11-03. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  30. "Number of Villages, Neighborhoods, Households and Resident Population". MOI Statistical Information Service. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  31. "Chapter 1: Geography". The Republic of China Yearbook. Government Information Office, Republic of China (Taiwan). 2011. pp. 13–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2012-10-01.

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