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In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the native population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of eventual unification - as well as domestic political and economic reform.
Geography Taiwan
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
Geographic coordinates:
23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 35,980 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy
water: 3,720 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,566.3 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m
Natural resources:
small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use:
arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75%
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
earthquakes and typhoons
Environment - current issues:
air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
Environment - international agreements:
party to: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status
Geography - note:
strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
People Taiwan
22,749,838 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.9% (male 2,359,467; female 2,167,438)
15-64 years: 70.7% (male 8,149,231; female 7,924,774)
65 years and over: 9.4% (male 1,091,473; female 1,057,455) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.7 years
male: 33.3 years
female: 34.1 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.64% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
12.7 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.29 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.52 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.21 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.06 years
male: 74.31 years
female: 80.08 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.57 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Chinese/Taiwanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese/Taiwanese
Ethnic groups:
Taiwanese (including Hakka) 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
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86%
male: 93%
female: 79%
note: literacy for the total population has reportedly increased to 94% (1998)
Government Taiwan
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local short form: T'ai-wan
local long form: none
former: Formosa
Government type:
multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly-elected president and unicameral legislature
Administrative divisions:
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); Taiwan is further subdivided into 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
National holiday:
Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
25 December 1946, amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, and 2000
Legal system:
based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President CHEN Shui-bian (since 20 March 2004) and Vice President Annette LU (LU Hsiu-lien) (since 20 March 2004)
election results: CHEN Shui-bian elected president; percent of vote - CHEN Shui-bian (DPP) 51.1%, LIEN Chan (KMT) 49.9%
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 20 March 2004 (next to be held in March 2008); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) YU Shyi-kun (since 1 February 2002) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) LIN Hsin-yi (since 1 February 2002)
cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by the president
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Yuan (225 seats - 168 elected by popular vote, 41 elected on the basis of the proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, eight elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on the basis of the proportion of island-wide 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 seat nonstanding body; delegates nominated by parties and elected by proportional representation within three months of a Legislative Yuan call to amend the Constitution, impeach the president, or change national borders)
elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 8 December 2001 (next to be held in December 2004)
election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - DPP 39%, KMT 30%, PFP 20%, TSU 6%, independents and other parties 5%; seats by party (2003) - DPP 88, KMT 66, PFP 46, TSU 12, independents and other parties 13
Judicial branch:
Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [CHEN Shui-bian, chairman]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [LIEN Chan, chairman]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG (SOONG Chu-yu), chairman]; Taiwan Solidarity Union or TSU [HUANG Chu-wen, chairman]; other minor parties including the Chinese New Party or CNP
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 unify 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
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people of the US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US with headquarters in Taipei and field offices in Washington and 12 other US cities
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality - the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) - which has offices in the US and Taiwan; US office located at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices located at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2709-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2702-7675; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kao-hsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 224-0154 through 0157, FAX: [886] (7) 223-8237; and the American Trade Center, Room 3208 International Trade Building, Taipei World Trade Center, 333 Keelung Road Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan 10548, telephone: [886] (2) 2720-1550, FAX: [886] (2) 2757-7162
Flag description:
red with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
Economy Taiwan
Economy - overview:
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. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes 2% to GDP, down from 32% in 1952. While Taiwan is a major investor throughout Southeast Asia, China has become the largest destination for investment and has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's largest export market. 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. The global economic downturn, combined with problems in policy coordination by the administration and bad debts in the banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001, the first year of negative growth ever recorded. Unemployment also reached record levels. Output recovered moderately in 2002 in the face of continued global slowdown, fragile consumer confidence, and bad bank loans. Growing economic ties with China are a dominant long-term factor. Exports to China - mainly parts and equipment for the assembly of goods for export to developed countries - drove Taiwan's economic recovery in 2002. Although the SARS epidemic, Typhoon Maemi, corporate scandals, and a drop in consumer spending caused GDP growth to contract to 3.2% in 2003, increasingly strong export performance kept Taiwan's economy on track, and the government expects Taiwan's economy to grow 4.1% in 2004.
purchasing power parity - $528.6 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.2% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $23,400 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 31%
services: 67% (2002)
Population below poverty line:
1% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.2% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
10 million (2003)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 57%, industry 35%, agriculture 8% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.1% (September 2003 est.)
revenues: $52.5 billion
expenditures: $63 billion, including capital expenditures of $14.4 billion $NA (2002 est.)
electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
6% (2002)
Electricity - production:
151.1 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 22.6%
Electricity - consumption:
140.5 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
1,100 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
988,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
2 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
750 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
6.64 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
410 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
6.3 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
38.23 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk, fish
$143 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
computer products and electrical equipment, metals, textiles, plastics and rubber products, chemicals (2002)
Exports - partners:
China 25.3%, US 20.5%, Japan 9.2% (2002)
$119.6 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment 44.5%, minerals, precision instruments (2002)
Imports - partners:
Japan 24.2%, US 16.1%, China 7.1%, South Korea 6.9% (2002)
Debt - external:
$45 billion (2002)
new Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
new Taiwan dollars per US dollar - 34.42 (2003), 34.58 (2002), 33.8 (2001), 33.09 (2000), 31.6 (1999)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June (up to FY98/99); 1 July 1999 - 31 December 2000 for FY00; calendar year (after FY00)
Communications Taiwan
Telephones - main lines in use:
13,099,400 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
23,905,400 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code - 886; 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)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 218, FM 333, shortwave 50 (1999)
16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations:
29 (plus two repeaters) (1997)
8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,170,233 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)
Internet users:
8.59 million (2002)
Transportation Taiwan
total: 1,108 km
narrow gauge: 1,108 km 1.067-m gauge (519 km electrified)
note: there also are 1,255 km of 1.067-m gauge routes belonging to the Taiwan Sugar Corporation and to the Taiwan Forestry Bureau used to haul products and limited numbers of passengers (2002)
total: 35,931 km
paved: 31,583 km (including 608 km of expressways)
unpaved: 4,348 km (2000)
condensate 25 km; gas 435 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung
Merchant marine:
total: 130 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 3,417,768 GRT/5,617,318 DWT
foreign-owned: Cuba 1, Hong Kong 4
registered in other countries: 457 (2003 est.)
by type: bulk 36, cargo 23, chemical tanker 2, combination bulk 3, container 37, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 10, roll on/roll off 2
40 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2003 est.)
3 (2003 est.)
Military Taiwan
Military branches:
Army, Navy (including Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military manpower - military age:
19 years of age; 22-month active service obligation (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,556,484 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 4,992,737 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 182,677 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7,611.7 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.7% (2003)
Transnational Issues Taiwan
Disputes - international:
involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan asserted claims to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Tai) with increased media coverage and protest actions
Illicit drugs:
regional transit point for heroin and methamphetamine; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; renewal of domestic methamphetamine production is a problem