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Flag of Taiwan
Map of Taiwan
Introduction Taiwan
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
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
1,566.3 km
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)
Irrigated land:
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
23,036,087 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 19.4% (male 2,330,951/female 2,140,965)
15-64 years: 70.8% (male 8,269,421/female 8,040,169)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 1,123,429/female 1,131,152) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 34.6 years
male: 34.1 years
female: 35 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.61% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
12.56 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
6.48 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.29 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.43 years
male: 74.67 years
female: 80.47 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.57 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
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%
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: 96.1%
male: NA%
female: NA% (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 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 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)
25 December 1947; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
note: constitution adopted on 25 December 1946; went into effect on 25 December 1947
Legal system:
based on civil law system
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) SU Tseng-chang (since 25 January 2006) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) TSAI Ing-wen (since 25 January 2006)
cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by the president
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 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:
Legislative Yuan (225 seats - 168 elected by popular vote, 41 elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, eight elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on basis of proportion of island-wide votes received by participating political parties, eight elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; members serve three-year terms)
note: as a result of constitutional amendments approved by the now defunct National Assembly in June 2005, number of seats in legislature will be reduced from 225 to 113 beginning with election in 2007; amendments also eliminated National Assembly thus giving Taiwan a unicameral legislature
elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 11 December 2004 (next to be held in December 2007)
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
Judicial branch:
Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [YU Shyi-kun]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [MA Ying-jeou]; People First Party or PFP [CHANG Chao-hsiung (acting)]; Taiwan Solidarity Union or TSU [SU Chin-chiang]; other minor parties including the Chinese New Party or NP
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 the island currently enjoys sovereign 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 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 island runs a trade surplus, and foreign reserves are the world's third largest. Despite restrictions cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan's largest export market and, in 2006, its second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island's number one destination for foreign direct investment. Strong trade performance in 2006 pushed Taiwan's GDP growth rate above 4%, and unemployment is below 4%. Consumer spending recovered following a slowdown early in 2006, when banks tightened lending to address a sharp increase in delinquent consumer debt.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$668.3 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$353.9 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$29,000 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.5%
industry: 25.2%
services: 73.3% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
10.46 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 5.5%
industry: 36%
services: 58.5% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate:
3.9% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
0.9% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
18.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $67.33 billion
expenditures: $77.93 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:
34.6% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate:
6.5% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
189.7 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
nuclear: 22.6%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
175.3 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
7,755 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
965,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - imports:
0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves:
3 million bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
1.1 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
10.7 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - imports:
9.6 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
76.46 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$9.7 billion (2006 est.)
$215 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
computer products and electrical equipment, metals, textiles, plastics and rubber products, chemicals (2002)
Exports - partners:
China 22.5%, Hong Kong 15.7%, US 15%, Japan 7.3% (2006 est.)
$205.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment 44.5%, minerals, precision instruments (2002)
Imports - partners:
Japan 23%, China 11.9%, US 10.9%, South Korea 7.2%, Saudi Arabia 4.9% (2006 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$280.6 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$93.06 billion (2006 est.)
Currency (code):
new Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
new Taiwan dollars per US dollar - 32.19 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004), 34.575 (2003), 33.8 (2002)
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:
13.615 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
22.17 million (2005)
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:
4,320,310 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)
Internet users:
13.21 million (2005)
Transportation Taiwan
42 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2006)
3 (2006)
condensate 25 km; gas 661 km (2006)
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 carry products and limited numbers of passengers (2005)
total: 37,299 km
paved: 35,621 km (including 789 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,678 km (2002)
Merchant marine:
total: 112 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,798,992 GRT/4,652,921 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 35, cargo 22, chemical tanker 2, container 25, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 16, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Hong Kong 3)
registered in other countries: 463 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 2, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 6, Italy 10, Liberia 69, Malta 2, Panama 308, Singapore 59, UK 1, US 1, unknown 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung
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:
19-35 years of age for military service; service obligation 16 months (to be shortened to 12 months in 2008); women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles (2005)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 19-49: 5,883,828
females age 19-49: 5,680,773 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 19-49: 4,749,537
females age 19-49: 4,644,607 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 174,173
females age 19-49: 163,683 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7.93 billion (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.4% (2005 est.)
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
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Taiwan is primarily a destination for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation; women from China and Southeast Asian countries are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor; women and children, primarily from Vietnam, are trafficked through the use of fraudulent marriages, deceptive employment offers, and illegal smuggling for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; a significant share of foreign workers - primarily from Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines - are recruited legally for low-skilled jobs, and are subjected to forced labor or involuntary servitude by labor agencies or employers upon arrival in Taiwan; to a much lesser extent, there is internal trafficking of children for sexual exploitation and trafficking of a small and declining number of Taiwanese women to Japan for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Taiwan is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts over the past year to address trafficking, despite ample resources to do so, particularly the serious level of forced labor and sexual servitude among legally migrating Southeast Asian contract workers and brides
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 18 January, 2007