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Introduction Taiwan
In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. It reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following Communist victory on mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over next five decades, ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated native population within governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from Nationalist to Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." dominant political issues continue to be relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically question of eventual unification - as well as domestic political and economic reform.
Geography Taiwan
Eastern Asia, islands bordering East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of Philippines, off southeastern coast of China
Geographic coordinates:
23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references:
Southeast Asia
total: 35,980 sq km
note: includes Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy
water: 3,720 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,566.3 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 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:
limited deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use:
arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75%
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 selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status
signed, but not ratified: none of selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status
Geography - note:
strategic location adjacent to both Taiwan Strait and Luzon Strait
People Taiwan
Total Population:
22,603,001 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.1% (male 2,366,560; female 2,175,886)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 8,095,741; female 7,871,954)
65 years and over: 9.3% (male 1,074,112; female 1,018,747) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.2 years
male: 32.9 years
female: 33.6 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.65% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
12.74 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
6.2 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 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: 1.05 male(s)/female
Population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 76.87 years
male: 74.12 years
female: 79.88 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.57 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Chinese/Taiwanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese/Taiwanese
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
Population: 86%
male: 93%
female: 79% (1980)
note: literacy for total population has reportedly increased to 94% (1998)
Government Taiwan
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local short form: T'ai-wan
local long form: none
former: Formosa
Government type:
multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly-elected president and unicameral legislature
Administrative divisions:
central administrative divisions include provinces of Fu-chien (some 20 offshore islands of Fujian Province includes Quemoy and Matsu) and Taiwan (the island of Taiwan and Pescadores islands); Taiwan is further subdivided into 16 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities* (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities** (chuan-shih, singular and plural); Chang-hua, Chia-i, Chia-i*, Chi-lung*, Hsin-chu, Hsin-chu*, Hua-lien, I-lan, Kao-hsiung, Kao-hsiung**, Miao-li, Nan-t'ou, P'eng-hu, P'ing-tung, T'ai-chung, T'ai-chung*, T'ai-nan, T'ai-nan*, T'ai-pei, T'ai-pei**, T'ai-tung, T'ao-yuan, and Yun-lin; provincial capital is at Chung-hsing-hsin-ts'un
note: Taiwan uses Wade-Giles system for romanization
National holiday:
Republic Day (Anniversary of Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
1 January 1947, amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1999
Legal system:
based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
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)
election results: CHEN Shui-bian elected president; percent of vote - CHEN Shui-bian (DPP) 39.3%, James SOONG (SOONG Chu-yu) (PFP) 36.84%, LIEN Chan (KMT) 23.1%, HSU Hsin-liang (independent) 0.63%, LEE Ao (CNP) 0.13%
elections: president and vice president elected on same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 18 March 2000 (next to be held NA March 2004); premier appointed by president; vice premiers appointed by president on recommendation of premier
head of government: Premier (President of Executive Yuan) YU Shyi-kun (since 1 February 2002) and Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) LIN Hsin-yi (since 1 February 2002)
cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by president
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, eight elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, eight 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 within three months of a Legislative Yuan call to amend Constitution, impeach president, or change national borders)
elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 8 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2004); note - National Assembly is a nonstanding body and is called into session
election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - DPP 39%, KMT 30%, PFP 20%, TSU 6%, independents and other parties 5%; seats by party - DPP 87, KMT 68, PFP 46, TSU 13, independents and other parties 11
Judicial branch:
Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by president with consent of National Assembly; note - beginning in 2003, justices will be appointed by president with consent of Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [CHEN Shui-bian, chairman]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [LIEN Chan, chairman]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG (SOONG Chu-yu), chairman]; Taiwan Solidarity Union or TSU [HUANG Chu-wen, chairman]; other minor parties includes 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 mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan's legislature have opened public debate on island's national identity; a broad popular consensus has developed that Taiwan currently enjoys de facto independence and - whatever ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence - that Taiwan's people must have deciding voice; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose stand that island will eventually unify with mainland China; goals of Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering UN; other organizations supporting Taiwan independence include World United Formosans for Independence and Organization for Taiwan Nation Building
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with people of US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in US with headquarters in Taipei and field offices in Washington and 12 other US cities
Diplomatic representation from US:
none; unofficial commercial and cultural relations with people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality - American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) - which has offices in US and Taiwan; US office located at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices located at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2709-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2702-7675; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kao-hsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 224-0154 through 0157, FAX: [886] (7) 223-8237; and 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 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 primary impetus for industrialization. trade surplus is substantial, and foreign reserves are world's third largest. Agriculture contributes 2% to GDP, down from 32% in 1952. While Taiwan is a major investor throughout Southeast Asia, China has become largest destination for investment and has overtaken 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 Asian financial crisis in 1998. globel economic downturn, combined with problems in policy coordination by administration and bad debts in banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001, first year of negative growth ever recorded. Unemployment also reached record levels. Output recovered moderately in 2002 in face of continued globel slowdown, fragile consumer confidence, and bad bank loans. Growing economic ties with China are a dominant long-term factor. Exports to China - mainly parts and equipment for assembly of goods for export to developed countries - drove Taiwan's economic recovery in 2002.
buying power parity - $406 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.5% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $18,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 31%
services: 67% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
1% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 6.4%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
32.6 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.2% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
10 million (2003)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 58%, industry 35%, agriculture 7% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.2% (2002 est.)
revenues: $36 billion
expenditures: $36.1 billion, includes capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)
electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
6% (2002)
Electricity - production:
151.1 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 6%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 22.6%
Electricity - consumption:
140.5 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
1,100 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
988,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
2 million bbl (37257)
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 (37257)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
$130 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment 54%, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals (2002)
Exports - partners:
Hong Kong 23.9%, US 20.8%, Japan 9.3%, China 7.7% (2002)
$113 billion f.o.b. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment 44.5%, minerals, precision instruments (2002)
Imports - partners:
Japan 24.3%, US 16.1%, China 7.1%, South Korea 6.9% (2002)
Debt - external:
$24.7 billion (2002)
new Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
34.88 (2002), 34.74 (2001), 33.09 (2000), 31.6 (1999)
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:
12.49 million (September 2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
16 million (September 2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: 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 Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (2000)
Internet users:
11.6 million (2001)
Transportation Taiwan
total: 1,108 km
narrow gauge: 1,108 km 1.067-m gauge (519 km electrified)
note: there also are 1,255 km of 1.067-m gauge routes belonging to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and to Taiwan Forestry Bureau used to haul products and limited numbers of passengers (2002)
total: 35,931 km
paved: 31,583 km (including 608 km of expressways)
unpaved: 4,348 km (2000)
condensate 25 km; gas 435 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung
Merchant marine:
total: 142 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 3,973,958 GRT/6,306,361 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Hong Kong 3, Japan 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 41, cargo 22, chemical tanker 2, combination bulk 3, container 45, petroleum tanker 18, refrigerated cargo 9, roll on/roll off 2
39 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
3 (2002)
Military Taiwan
Military branches:
Army, Navy (including Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command
Military manpower - military age:
19 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,583,604 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 5,019,268 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 189,967 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$7.574 billion (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.7% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Taiwan
Disputes - international:
involved in complex dispute over Spratly Islands with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei; claimants in November 2002 signed "Declaration on Conduct of Parties in South China Sea", a mechanism to ease tension but which fell short of a legally binding "code of conduct"; Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai), as does China
Illicit drugs:
regional transit point for heroin and methamphetamine; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin