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During the 14th to 17th centuries, the island was held by Chinese and Japanese pirates, as well as the Dutch, the Spanish, and the Portuguese traders. The Portuguese were the ones who gave the island the name, "Formosa," which means beautiful.
From 1863 to 1895, the island was held by the Manchus for China. Chinese rule ended during the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, wherein they gave Taiwan to Japan.
After the Second World War, Taiwan was given back to China by the Allied Powers in 1945. By 1949, the island was occupied by supporters of the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-Shek, who were forced out of mainland China by the Communist power. The United States supported the nationalist government and stationed their Seventh Fleet on the island to provide military and economic support.
Under the Nationalist rule, Taiwan flourished into a rapid industrial state, and by the time the US withdrew their presence on the island in 1965, Taiwan was one of the most thriving in Asia, in terms of economics.
In 1971, Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations, in favor of Communist China, followed by the US recognizing the latter in 1978. Today, Taiwan recognizes itself as a separate sovereign state from China.
Taiwan is an East Asian nation located to the east of China and to the North of the Philippines. Japan is located to its northeast, with the East China Sea to its north, the Philippine Sea to its east, the Luzon Strait to its south, and the South China Sea to its southwest.
Taiwan is considered to be the 4th highest island in the world because it has 6 peaks that are higher than 11,500 feet from sea level - with the highest being Jade Mountain at 12,966 feet.
The eastern side of the island is mostly mountainous and the western side consisting of gently sloping plains.
Taiwan is a unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic. It is officially called the Republic of China but the People's Republic of China or mainland China refuses to acknowledge their government. Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state but the People's Republic of China claims their government is illegitimate.
Taiwan elects a President to office on a maximum of two 4-year terms. The President is head of state, commander in chief of the armed forces, and has authority over the 5 branches of government.
The main legislative body consists of the unicameral legislative branch which has 113 members.
Taiwan is more than just its electronic factories and urban cities. It is an island of stunning landscapes, natural beauty, and a has a rich historical identity.
The most popular tourist attraction in Taiwan is the Taipei 101 - the world's 2nd largest building. It was the world's tallest when it was built - with 101 floors and 509 meter high. A shopping mall is found in the basement and an observation deck is found on the 89th floor. Two high-speed elevators take people from the 5th floor to the 89th floor in just 37 seconds.
The National Palace Museum also in Taipei is another popular tourist attraction. The building and structure itself is a sight to behold but it's the exhibit that makes it spectacular. One of the best museums for Chinese artifacts, it's the best place to understand China's history and culture. Over 3 million tourists visit the museum each year.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Park is another Taipei attraction and it's a famous Taiwan landmark and monument. It's a popular recreational park for both locals and tourists, and the National Theater and the National Concert Hall are also within the park.
Taroko National Park is found in the Hualien County in Eastern Taiwan and famous for its marble gorges. Re-established in 1986, the park features scenic marble-walled gorges, rivers, springs, and magnificent views of the landscape. Bicycle lanes and bridges are also found all over the park.
Taiwan's literacy rate is 98.2%. Education consists of 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of middle school, 3 years of high school, and 4 years of university.
Taiwan produces among the highest test scorers in the world - most specifically in the areas of math and science. Engineering is extremely popular in Taiwan, with more than a quarter of university students studying the programs - due to the government demand for employees in high-tech manufacturing industries.
Last Updated On : December 23, 2014