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History[edit | edit source]
The island of Taiwan was inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years before the 17th century, when Dutch colonialists opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, and ceded to Japan in 1895. Taiwan was historically called Formosa until recent times.
Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Republic of China, which had overthrown and succeeded the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan. The resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the loss of the mainland to the Communists and the flight of the Republic Of China government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the Republic Of China government continued to claim to be the legitimate representative of China, since 1950 its effective jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and several small islands. In the early 1960's, Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic growth and industrialisation. In the 1980's and early 1990's, it changed from a one-party military dictatorship to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system.
As a founding member, the Republic Of China represented China in the UN until it was replaced by the PRC in 1971. The PRC has consistently claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and refused diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes the Republic Of China. As of 2019, Taiwan maintains official ties with 17 out of 193 UN member states. Most international organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Nevertheless, most major powers maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. In Taiwan, the major political division is between parties favoring eventual Chinese unification and promoting a Chinese identity contrasted with those aspiring to independence and promoting a Taiwanese identity, though both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal.
Taiwan is a high-income advanced economy, with a highly skilled and educated workforce. It has the 22nd-largest economy in the world, and its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy. It is highly urbanized, and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with most of the population concentrated on the western coast. The state is ranked highly in terms of civil and political liberties, education, health care and human development.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1626 - 1642 The Spanish Empire landed on and occupied northern Taiwan, this colonial period lasted 16 years, when the last Spanish fortress fell to Dutch forces
1683 -The Qing dynasty formally annexed Taiwan, placing it under the jurisdiction of Fujian province
1887 - The Qing upgraded the island's administration from Taiwan Prefecture of Fujian Province to Fujian-Taiwan-Province
1894 - 1895 As the Qing dynasty was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan, along with Penghu and Liaodong Peninsula, were ceded in full sovereignty to the Empire of Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki
1911 - 1912 While Taiwan was still under Japanese rule, the Republic of China was founded on the mainland, following the Xinhai Revolution, which began with the Wuchang Uprising, replacing the Qing Dynasty and ending over two thousand years of imperial rule in China
1935 - The Japanese began an island-wide assimilation project to bind the island more firmly to the Japanese Empire and people were taught to see themselves as Japanese under the Kominka Movement, during which time Taiwanese culture and religion were outlawed and the citizens were encouraged to adopt Japanese surnames. By 1938 309,000 Japanese settlers resided in Taiwan.
1945 - After Japan's surrender ended World War II, most of Taiwan's approximately 300,000 Japanese residents were expelled and sent to Japan
1949 - A series of Chinese Communist offensives led to the capture of its capital Nanjing and the subsequent defeat of the Nationalist army on the mainland, and the Communists founded the People's Republic of China on 1 October
1949 - Martial law was declared on Taiwan and continued to be in effect after the central government relocated to Taiwan. It was not repealed until 1987
2007 - The ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting a separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a normal country. It also called for general use of Taiwan as the country's name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China
Economy[edit | edit source]
Prior to WWII, Taiwan had a largely agrarian economy. However the war caused major damage to all areas of the country, as far as its ability to sustain itself.
By 1945, hyperinflation was in progress in mainland China and Taiwan as a result of the war with Japan. To isolate Taiwan from it, the Nationalist government created a new currency area for the island, and began a price stabilization program. These efforts significantly slowed inflation.
In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States began an aid program which resulted in fully stabilized prices by 1952. Economic development was encouraged by American economic aid and programs such as the Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, which turned the agricultural sector into the basis for later growth. Under the combined stimulus of the land reform and the agricultural development programs, agricultural production increased at an average annual rate of 4 per cent from 1952 to 1959, which was greater than the population growth.
In 1962, Taiwan had a (nominal) per-capita gross national product (GNP) of $170, placing its economy on a par with those of Zaire and Congo.
Today Taiwan has a dynamic, capitalist, export-driven economy with gradually decreasing state involvement in investment and foreign trade. In keeping with this trend, some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized.
Taiwan has had a real growth in GDP of about 8% per year over the last 25 years, making it a truly economic miracle and an example of what a democratic, capital driven economy can achieve.