The republic of Taiwan (formerly Formosa) is on an island 80 miles (130 km) off the southeast coast of mainland China, which still considers it to be a renegade province.
Geography: Mountain region covers two-thirds of the island. Highly fertile lowlands and coastal plains.
Climate: Tropical monsoon. Hot and humid. Typhoons July–September. Snow falls in mountains in winter.
People and Society: Most Taiwanese are Han Chinese, descendants of the 1644 migration of the Ming dynasty from the mainland. The modern republic was created in 1949, when the nationalist Kuomintang was expelled from the mainland following Communist victory in the civil war. 100,000 emigrés established themselves as a ruling class. Initial resentment has subsided as a new Taiwan-born generation has taken over the reins of power. The aboriginal minority suffers discrimination.
The Economy: Successful economy of small, adaptable companies. High-tech goods: TVs, computers, and semiconductors. Rising trade, investment with China.
Insight: Taiwan lost its seat at the UN to Beijing in 1971: both claim to represent “China”
Official Name: Republic of China (ROC)
Date of Formation: 1949
Population: 23 million
Total Area: 13,892 sq. miles (35,980 sq. km)
Density: 1844 people per sq. mile
Languages: Amoy Chinese, Mandarin Chinese*, Hakka Chinese
Religions: Buddhist, Confucianist, and Taoist 93%, Christian 5%, other 2%
Ethnic Mix: Indigenous Chinese 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, aboriginal 2%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Taiwan dollar = 100 cents