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Taiwan[Country flag of Taiwan]
[Country map of Taiwan]

  Taiwan is not recognized as a country by most of the world; however, it does have an Olympic Committee and competes in the Olympic Games as "Chinese Taipei." For more information, read my Is Taiwan a Country? article.

Introduction Taiwan
Background:
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
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
Geographic coordinates:
23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
Area:
total: 35,980 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
1,566.3 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
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
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% (2001)
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
Population:
22,894,384 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.7% (male 2,349,077/female 2,156,755)
15-64 years: 70.7% (male 8,205,933/female 7,980,056)
65 years and over: 9.6% (male 1,107,708/female 1,094,855) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 34.14 years
male: 33.71 years
female: 34.57 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.63% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
12.64 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
6.38 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.26 years
male: 74.49 years
female: 80.28 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.57 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA
Nationality:
noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example: he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
Ethnic groups:
Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, aborigine 2%
Religions:
mixture of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Languages:
Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.1% (2003)
Government Taiwan
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T'ai-wan
former: Formosa
Government type:
multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly-elected president and unicameral legislature
Capital:
Taipei
Administrative divisions:
includes central island of Taiwan plus numerous smaller islands near central island and off coast of China's Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chuan-shih, singular and plural)
: counties: Chang-hua, Chia-i, Hsin-chu, Hua-lien, I-lan, Kao-hsiung county, Kin-men, Lien-chiang, Miao-li, Nan-t'ou, P'eng-hu, P'ing-tung, T'ai-chung, T'ai-nan, T'ai-pei county, T'ai-tung, T'ao-yuan, and Yun-lin
: municipalities: Chia-i, Chi-lung, Hsin-chu, T'ai-chung, T'ai-nan
: special municipalities: Kao-hsiung city, T'ai-pei city
note: Taiwan generally uses Wade-Giles system for romanization; special municipality of Taipei adopted standard pinyin romanization for street and place names within city boundaries, other local authorities have selected a variety of romanization systems
National holiday:
Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Constitution:
25 December 1946; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, and 2000
Legal system:
based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage:
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President CHEN Shui-bian (since 20 May 2000) and Vice President Annette LU (LU Hsiu-lien) (since 20 May 2000)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) Frank HSIEH (since 1 February 2005) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) - WU Rong-i) (since 18 February 2005)
cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by the president
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
election results: CHEN Shui-bian re-elected president; percent of vote - CHEN Shui-bian (DPP) 50.1%, LIEN Chan (KMT) 49.9%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Yuan (225 seats - 168 elected by popular vote, 41 elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 8 elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on basis of proportion of island-wide votes received by participating political parties, 8 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; members serve three-year terms) and unicameral National Assembly (300 seat nonstanding body; delegates nominated by parties and elected by proportional representation six to nine months after Legislative Yuan calls to amend Constitution, impeach president, or change national borders)
note: as a result of constitutional amendments approved by the National Assembly on 7 June 2005, the number of seats in the legislature will be reduced from 225 to 113 beginning with the election in 2007; the amendments also eliminate the National Assembly, thus giving Taiwan a unicameral legislature
elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 11 December 2004 (next to be held in December 2007); National Assembly - last held 14 May 2005
election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - DPP 38%, KMT 35%, PFP 15%, TSU 8%, other parties and independents 4%; seats by party - DPP 89, KMT 79, PFP 34, TSU 12, other parties 7, independents 4; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - DPP 42.5%, KMT 38.9%, TSU 7%, PFP 6%, others 6.6%; seats by party - DPP 127, KMT 117, TSU 21, PFP 18, others 17 (2005)
Judicial branch:
Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [SU Tseng-chang, chairman]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [MA Ying-jeou, chairman]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG (SOONG Chu-yu), chairman]; Taiwan Solidarity Union or TSU [SU Chin-chiang, 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:
APEC, AsDB, BCIE, ICC, ICFTU, IOC, WCL, WTO
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 at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2162-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2162-2251; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kao-hsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 238-7744, FAX: [886] (7) 238-5237; 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 less than 2% to GDP, down from 32% in 1952. Taiwan is a major investor throughout Southeast Asia. China 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; and the essentially vibrant economy pushed ahead in 2003-04. Growing economic ties with China are a dominant long-term factor, e.g., exports to China of parts and equipment for the assembly of goods for export to developed countries.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$576.2 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $25,300 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.7%
industry: 30.9%
services: 67.4% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
10.22 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 8%, industry 35%, services 57% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4.5% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
1% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
18% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $67.41 billion
expenditures: $76.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $14.4 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt:
32.4% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Industries:
electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate:
12.2% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
158.5 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
nuclear: 22.6%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
147.4 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
500 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
988,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA
Oil - imports:
NA
Oil - proved reserves:
2.9 million bbl (2004 est.)
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 (2004)
Current account balance:
$21.16 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:
$170.5 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
computer products and electrical equipment, metals, textiles, plastics and rubber products, chemicals (2002)
Exports - partners:
China, including Hong Kong 37%, US 16%, Japan 7.7% (2004)
Imports:
$165.4 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment 44.5%, minerals, precision instruments (2002)
Imports - partners:
Japan 26%, US 13%, China, including Hong Kong 11%, South Korea 6.9% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$246.5 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$55.5 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):
new Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code:
TWD
Exchange rates:
new Taiwan dollars per US dollar - 33.422 (2004), 34.418 (2003), 34.575 (2002), 33.8 (2001), 33.09 (2000)
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:
13.355 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
25,089,600 (2003)
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)
Radios:
16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations:
29 (plus two repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:
8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code:
.tw
Internet hosts:
2,777,085 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)
Internet users:
13.8 million (2005)
Transportation Taiwan
Railways:
total: 2,497 km
narrow gauge: 1,097 km 1.067-m gauge (685 km electrified)
note: 1,400 km .762-m gauge (belonging to the Taiwan Sugar Corporation and to the Taiwan Forestry Bureau used to haul products and limited numbers of passengers (2004)
Highways:
total: 37,299 km
paved: 35,621 km (including 608 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,678 km (2002)
Pipelines:
condensate 25 km; gas 435 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung
Merchant marine:
total: 126 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 3,417,768 GRT/5,617,318 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 36, cargo 23, chemical tanker 2, container 37, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 15, refrigerated cargo 9, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 3 (Hong Kong 3)
registered in other countries: 432 (2005)
Airports:
40 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 1 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Heliports:
3 (2004 est.)
Military Taiwan
Military branches:
Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military service age and obligation:
19-40 years of age for military service (being lowered to 35 years of age in July 2005); service obligation 22 months (being shortened to 18 months in July 2005 and 12 months in 2008) (2005)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 19-49: 5,883,828 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 19-49: 4,749,537 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 174,173 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7.574 billion (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.6% (2004)
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 became more vocal in rejecting both Japan's claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan's unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting
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

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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