Some History About Taiwan Before I Write About My Trip

Taiwan FlagBefore I start writing about my recent trip to Taiwan I thought I would provide some basic data on the island country,Taiwan.

First of all most American’s and Canadian’s are not familiar with Taiwan, unless they’ve been there, they know someone who is from there or they have been pro-active and learned about foreign lands on their own. When people hear Taiwan, they often mistaken Taiwan for Thailand. I’ve heard quite a few ignorant individuals say “Ya, I know Taiwan……I like Thai food.” Uhmm….Thai food is from Thailand you dumbass not Taiwan.

Here is some basic info about Taiwan. Taiwan is about 150 km east of mainland China, if measuring from Xiamen, Fujian Province. The tropic of cancer runs through Taiwan contributing to the subtropical climate in the North and tropical climate in the South. An estimate 60% of Taiwan island is covered by the Central Mountain Range (highest peak is Yushan (Jade Mountain) 3.997 m. Taiwan does not have much natural mineral resources like iron ore, copper, silver or gold unfortunately.
Taiwan island mapTaiwan’s Geography is between 21°45′ and 25°56′ of Northern latitude and 119°18′ and 124°34′ of Eastern longitude. From the northern tip of the island to southern tip Taiwan is approximately 375 km. East to West or the width of the island is roughly 135 km. Total surface area of Taiwan island is 36,000 km2, which is only half the size of Ireland.

Taiwan’s population is about 23 million according to 2002 census, more than 70% of Taiwan’s citizen originated from Fujian Province, China, an estimated 10% come from Guangdong Province China and approximately 5% of Taiwan citizen are aboriginals the original native people of Taiwan (malay-polynesian), and 15% are mainland refugees and their descendants.

Here are some political information on Taiwan.
Taiwan’s official designation is “Republic of China”
Taiwan’s capital is Taipei
Taiwan’s official language is Mandarin Chinese
Taiwan’s currency is called “New Taiwan Dollar” (NT$)
Taiwan’s International dialling code: +886-
Taiwan’s international country abbreviation: “RC”.
Taiwan’s Political parties: DPP (”Democratic Progressive Party”: “Minzhu Jinbu Dang”) and Kuomintang (KMT, ie “National People’s Party”)
President: Ma Ying-jeou
Vice-President: Vicent Siew

Some Older History About Taiwan

Before year 1900, two factions of the Chinese dynasties, the Ming’s and the Manchu’s clashed with each other for control over the Taiwan island. The Manchu’s won, but had to deal with frequent rebellions from native islanders. The ambitious Japanese empire at the time who wanted to expand favored the island and in 1895 forced China to hand it over after winning the Sino-Japanese war. Japan then occupied Taiwan island until 1945, that was the year that Japan was defeated in the second world war.

In 1949 Taiwan was taken over by the military forces of Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang Kai-Shek who fought against China’s Communist party had lost the China civil war and flee to Taiwan island. Chiang believed that he still ruled China, and would eventually resume his authority there. However, that was not to be and he stayed ruled over Taiwan. Despite his Chiang Kai-Shek regime’s shortcomings, his political influence turned Taiwan into an immensely prosperous trading nation, especially in computer technology. Chiang Kai-Shek died in 1975 and his son Chiang Ching-kuo to reign of Taiwan, but unlike his father he ruled less dictatorially and more democratically. The younger Chiang Ching-Kuo initiated political reforms which allowed official opposition to his KMT party before he died in 1988. With an ever growing and prospering middle-class, Taiwan has evolved into a democracy with free elections and some of the most independent and free speech newspapers in Asia.

Taiwan streets Taiwan acts and is governed as an independent country, however Taiwan is deterred from declaring formal independence by a threat of invasion from the mainland. Taiwanese who favour a declaration of independence believe China would not dare invade and risk war with America, which sees itself as Taiwan’s guardian. They dispute China’s claim that Taiwan is a rebel province and say that China only occupied the island for only a few years. Modern Taiwan, a racially mixed diverse nation of 23 million people and is very different from China both politically and culturally. Patriotic Taiwanese say that Taiwan owes its success to a workforce highly educated in a system that was set up by the Japanese and today Taiwan is a modern high-tech country. For example, did you know the Apple iPhone is manufactured in Taiwan, as well as the the world’s second most popular laptop brand Acer.

In 1993, the government supported the establishment of the country’s Institute of Taiwan History, crammed with scholars who enthusiastically seek to show Taiwan’s “unique characteristics”. Most Taiwanese support the status quo and hope that eventually mainland China will become a democracy one day making reunion possible.

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