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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 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local 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 Taiwan's eventual status - as well as domestic... See More



 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


 Total: 35,980 sq km
Land: 32,260 sq km
Water: 3,720 sq km

Note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined

Land Boundaries:

 0 km


 1,566.3 km (Rank: 67)

Maritime Claims:

 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% (2001)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 67 cu km (2000)

Natural Hazards:

 Earthquakes; typhoons

Volcanism: Kueishantao Island (elev. 401 m), east of Taiwan, is its only historically active volcano, although it has not erupted in centuries

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

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait

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 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%, indigenous 2%


 Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects


 Mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%


 23,071,779 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 15.6% (male 1,875,359/female 1,732,007)
15-64 years: 73.4% (male 8,538,881/female 8,406,716)
65 years and over: 10.9% (male 1,198,591/female 1,320,225) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 37.6 years
Male: 36.9 years
Female: 38.3 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.193% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 8.9 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 7 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.084 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 5.18 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 5.46 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 4.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 78.32 years
Male: 75.5 years
Female: 81.36 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 1.15 children born/woman (2011 est.)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 96.1%
Male: NA
Female: NA (2003)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Taiwan
Local long form: none
Local short form: Taiwan
Former: Formosa

Government Type:

 Multiparty democracy


 Name: Taipei
Geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
Time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 Includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China's Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 14 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 3 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 5 special municipalities (chih-hsia-shih, singular and plural)

Note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.

Counties: Changhua, Chiayi (county), Hsinchu (county), Hualien, Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, Yunlin

Municipalities: Chiayi (city), Hsinchu (city), Keelung

Special municipalities: Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei

National Holiday:

 Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)


 Adopted 25 December 1946; promulgated 1 January 1947; effective 25 December 1947; amended many times

Legal System:

 Civil law system

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 20 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President Vincent SIEW (since 20 May 2008)

Head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) WU Den-yih (since 10 September 2009); Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) Sean CHEN (since 17 May 2010)

Cabinet: Executive Yuan - ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier

Elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 22 March 2008 (next to be held on 14 January 2012); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier

Election results: MA Ying-jeou elected president; percent of vote - MA Ying-jeou 58.45%, Frank HSIEH 41.55%

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats - 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; members to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats

Elections: Legislative Yuan - last held on 12 January 2008 (next to be held on 14 January 2012)

Election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party - KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1; note - following the 2008 elections, several rounds of byelections were held to fill seats vacated as a result of corruption changes; seats by party as of December 2011 - KMT 72, DPP 32, NPSU 3, independent 2, vacant 4

Judicial Branch:

 Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [TSAI Ing-wen]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [MA Ying-jeou]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [LIN Pin-kuan]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups

Note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan's status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; advocates of eventual unification predicate their goal on the democratic transformation of the mainland

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 None; commercial and cultural relations with the people in the United States are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts
Representative: Jason C. YUAN
Office: 4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
Telephone: [1] 202 895-1800
Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (branch offices): Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Houston, Honolulu, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 None; commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts
Director: William A. STANTON
Office: #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan
Telephone: [1] [886] (02) 2162-2000
FAX: [1] [886] (07) 238-7744
Other offices: Kaohsiung

Flag Description:

 Red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays; the blue and white design of the canton (symbolizing the sun of progress) dates to 1895; it was later adopted as the flag of the Kuomintang Party; blue signifies liberty, justice, and democracy; red stands for fraternity, sacrifice, and nationalism, white represents equality, frankness, and the people's livelihood; the 12 rays of the sun are those of the months and the twelve traditional Chinese hours (each ray equals two hours)

National Symbols:

 White, 12-rayed sun on blue field

National Anthem:

 Name: "Zhonghua Minguo guoge" (National Anthem of the Republic of China)
Lyrics/music: HU Han-min, TAI Chi-t'ao, and LIAO Chung-k'ai/CHENG Mao-Yun

Note: adopted 1930; the anthem is also the song of the Kuomintang Party; it is informally known as "San Min Chu I" or "San Min Zhu Yi" (Three Principles of the People); because of political pressure from China, "Guo Qi Ge" (National Banner Song) is used at international events rather than the official anthem of Taiwan; the "National Banner Song" has gained popularity in Taiwan and is commonly used during flag raisings

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Economy - Overview:

 Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing government guidance of investment and foreign trade. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms have been privatized. Exports, led by electronics and machinery, generate about 70% of Taiwan's GDP growth, and have provided the primary impetus for economic development. This heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to upturns and downturns in world demand. In 2009, Taiwan's GDP contracted 1.9%, due primarily to a 20% year-on-year decline in exports. In 2010 GDP grew 10.5%, as exports returned to the level of previous years. Taiwan's diplomatic isolation, low birth rate, and rapidly aging population are major long-term challenges. Free trade agreements have proliferated in East Asia over the past several years, but so far Taiwan has been excluded from this greater economic integration, largely because of its diplomatic status. Taiwan's Total Fertility rate of just over one child per woman is among the lowest in the world, raising the prospect of future labor shortages, falling domestic demand, and declining tax revenues. Taiwan's population is aging quickly, with the number of people over 65 accounting for 10.9% of the island's total population as 2011. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are the world's fourth largest, behind China, Japan, and Russia. Since President MA Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, cross-Strait economic ties have increased significantly. Since 2005 China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island's number one destination for foreign direct investment. Taiwan has focused much of its efforts on improving the cross-Strait economic relationship. Three financial memorandums of understanding, covering banking, securities, and insurance, took effect in mid-January 2010, opening the island to greater investments from the mainland's financial firms and institutional investors, and providing new opportunities for Taiwan financial firms to operate in China. Taiwan and the mainland in June 2010 signed the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), an agreement that the Taiwan authorities hope will eventually lead to a free-trade arrangement that will increase cross-Strait economic ties by lowering tariffs on a number of goods and by reducing market access barriers for services. The Taiwan authorities have said that the ECFA will serve as a stepping stone toward trade pacts with other regional partners and they announced that formal negotiations towards an economic cooperation agreement with Singapore would begin in 2011. Closer economic links with the mainland brings greater opportunities for the Taiwan economy, but also poses new challenges. For example, FDI in China has resulted in Chinese import substitution away from Taiwan's exports and a restriction of potential job creation in Taiwan.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $821.8 billion (2010 est.)
$741.5 billion (2009 est.)
$756.1 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $430.6 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 10.8% (2010 est.)
-1.9% (2009 est.)
0.7% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $35,700 (2010 est.)
$32,300 (2009 est.)
$33,000 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 1.4%
Industry: 31.1%
Services: 67.5% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 11.07 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 5.2%
Industry: 35.9%
Services: 58.8% (2010 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 5.2% (2010 est.)
5.9% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 1.16% (2010 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 6.4%
Highest 10%: 40.3% (2010)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 32.6 (2000)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 21.7% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $66.85 billion
Expenditures: $81.11 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 15.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -3.3% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 33.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
33.1% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 1% (2010 est.)
-0.9% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 1.625% (31 December 2010)
1.25% (February 2009)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 2.676% (31 December 2010)
2.563% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $618 billion (November 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $377.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$328.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $1.022 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
$919.9 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $751.5 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$671 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $784.1 billion (31 December 2010)
$657.3 billion (31 December 2009)
$354.7 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:

 Rice, vegetables, fruit, tea, flowers; pigs, poultry; fish


 Electronics, communications and information technology products, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 26.9% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 229.1 billion kWh (2009)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 71.4%
Hydro: 6%
Nuclear: 22.6%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 220.8 billion kWh (2009)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 26,680 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 1.002 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 303,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 876,300 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 2.38 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 310 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 12.1 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 11.79 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 6.229 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $40.62 billion (2010 est.)
$42.91 billion (2009 est.)


 $273.8 billion (2010 est.)
$203.4 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Electronics, flat panels, machinery; metals; textiles, plastics, chemicals; optical, photographic, measuring, and medical instruments

Exports - Partners:

 China 28.1%, Hong Kong 13.8%, US 11.5%, Japan 6.6%, Singapore 4.4% (2010 est.)


 $247.3 billion (2010 est.)
$172.8 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Electronics, machinery, crude petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals

Imports - Partners:

 Japan 20.7%, China 14.2%, US 10%, South Korea 6.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.7% (2010 est.)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $387.2 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$353 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $101.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$81.96 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $162.9 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$145.3 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $63.38 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$60.88 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Taiwan Dollar to Any Currency

New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar -
31.642 (2010)
33.061 (2009)
31.53 (2008)
32.84 (2007)
32.534 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 16.433 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 27.84 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need

Domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized

International: country code - 886; roughly 15 submarine fiber cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2

Broadcast Media:

 5 free-to-air nationwide television networks operating roughly 75 TV stations; about 85% of households utilize multi-channel cable TV; national and regional radio networks with about 170 radio stations broadcasting (2008)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 21, FM 143, shortwave 1 (2008)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 76 (5 television networks with 46 digital and 30 analog stations) (2007)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 6.336 million (2010)

Internet Users:

 16.147 million (2009)

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 41 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 38
Over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
Under 914 m: 4 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
Under 914 m: 1 (2010)


 4 (2010)


 Gas 412 km (2010)


 Total: 1,580 km
Standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge (345 km electrified)
Narrow gauge: 1,085 km 1.067-m gauge (685 km electrified); 150 km 0.762-m gauge

Note: the 0.762 gauge track belongs to three entities, the Forestry Bureau, Taiwan Cement, and TaiPower (2010)


 Total: 41,475 km
Paved: 41,033 km (includes 720 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 442 km (2009)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 101
By type: bulk carrier 28, cargo 19, chemical tanker 2, container 27, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 12, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
Foreign-owned: 2 (France 1, Vietnam 1)
Registered in other countries: 574 (Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 26, Indonesia 1, Italy 11, Kiribati 5, Liberia 88, Marshall Islands 2, Panama 337, Philippines 1, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 79, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 8) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Hualian, Taichung

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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:

 19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation - 2 years; women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense is in the process of implementing a voluntary enlistment system over the period 2010-2015, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 4 months of military training (2010)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 6,183,567
Females age 16-49: 6,006,676 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 5,074,173
Females age 16-49: 4,951,088 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 166,190
Female: 155,306 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 2.2% of GDP; note - in 2009, the Taiwanese president pledged to maintain defense spending at 3.0% or higher; projected 2.73% for 2011 (2009)

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Disputes - International:

 Involved in complex dispute with Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam over the Spratly Islands, and with China and the Philippines over Scarborough Reef; 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, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs

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Last Updated: December 2011

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