Overview | Government

This series of profiles of foreign nations is part of the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The profiles offer brief, summarized information on a country's historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and telecommunications, government and politics, and national security. Derived from The Library of Congress.


March 2005


Formal Name: Taiwan (台灣); formally, Republic of China

(Chung-hua Min-kuo—中華民國).

Short Form: Taiwan (台灣).

Term for Citizen(s): Chinese (Hua-jen—華人);

Taiwanese (T’ai-wan-jen—台灣 人).

Capital: The capital of central administration of Taiwan is

Taipei (T’ai-pei—台北—literally, Taiwan North), located in

T’ai-pei County in the north. Since 1967, Taipei has been administratively separate from Taiwan Province.

Major Cities: The largest city is Taipei, with 2.6 million inhabitants in 2004. Other large cities are Kao-hsiung, with 1.5 million, and T’ai-chung, with 1 million. Fifteen other cities have populations ranging from 216,000 to 749,000 inhabitants.

National Public Holidays: Founding Day (January 1, marking the founding of the Republic of China in 1912); Lunar New Year (also called Spring Festival, based on the lunar calendar, occurs between January 21 and February 19 and is preceded by eight days of preparatory festivities); Peace Memorial Day (February 28, commemorating the February 28, 1947, incident); Tomb Sweeping Day (Ching Ming, April 4); Dragon Boat Festival (fifth day of the fifth lunar month, movable date in June); Mid-Autumn Festival (15th day of the eighth lunar month, movable date in September); and Double Tenth National Day (October 10, also called Republic Day, commemorates the anniversary of the Chinese revolution in 1911 and the date from which years are sometimes counted). Also marked but not as national holidays and closure of government offices are Youth Day (March 29), Women’s and Children’s Day (April 4), Labor Day (May 1), Mother’s Day (May 8), Father’s Day (August 8), Ghost Festival (15th day of the seventh lunar month, movable date in August or September), Armed Forces Day (September 3), Teachers’ Day and Confucius’s Birthday (September 28), Taiwan Retrocession Day (October 25, marks return by Japan of Taiwan to Chinese rule in 1945), Sun Yat-sen’s Birthday (November 12), and Constitution Day (December 25).


The Republic of China flag has a crimson field with a dark blue rectangle

representing the sky in the upper hoist-side corner and bearing a white

sun with 12 triangular rays. The blue, white, and crimson represent the

Three Principles of the People (San Min Chu I —nationalism, democracy,

and social well-being). The 12 points of the white sun represent the 12 two-hour periods of the day, symbolizing unceasing progress. The white sun and blue sky symbol has been used since 1895. The flag has been in use since 1921 and was adopted by the new national government in 1928.


Prehistory: Taiwan has had human settlement for at least 15,000 years, dating to the Paleolithic age, and evidence of Neolithic agrarian settlements, similar to those of coastal China, dating from 4000 to 2500 B.C., have also been found. Because there was no land bridge to mainland Asia, the supposition is that these Neolithic peoples were seafarers as well as agriculturalists. There are several theories as to the origins of the aboriginal, Austronesian-speaking peoples living in Taiwan today. Some scholars believe that the first people to populate Taiwan were Malayo-Polynesians, specifically from Indonesia—peoples of a southern origin. Others argue for a northern origin—tribal peoples from southeastern mainland China—in support of the argument that Taiwan has always been a part of China. Some have posited Taiwan as the origin of the Austronesian languages, a position supporting an early Neolithic migration from southeastern China followed by independent development in Taiwan.

Mainland and European Arrivals: Mainland Chinese began to trade with the aborigines around the fourteenth century. Substantial numbers of Chinese migrants did not arrive until after the arrival in Taiwan in 1624 of the Portuguese, who called it Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island). Spain established fortified harbor outposts in northern Taiwan in 1626 and 1628, followed by the construction of connecting roads and missionary activities. The Dutch arrived in 1632 and established themselves at several outposts, with trade with the mainland as their main goal. By 1642 the Dutch had easily supplanted the Spanish presence, but then both the Portuguese and Dutch were expelled by a Chinese pirate and trader, Cheng Ch’eng-kung (Zheng Chenggong; also known as Koxinga), in 1662. Under Cheng’s administration, emigration, mostly from Fujian (Fu-chien) and Guangdong (Kwang-tung), was encouraged, and by 1664 the Chinese population had reached about 50,000; within 20 years, it had doubled. Mainlander settlement forced the aborigines from their traditional lands in the western plains up into the central mountains. There they fought to keep Chinese settlers out, and occasionally they raided lowland settlements.

Qing Period: Cheng Ch’eng-kung and his descendants, who were loyal to the former Ming Dynasty (1368–1643), controlled Taiwan for 20 years. In 1683 military forces of the new Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) took control of the P’eng-hu (Pescadores) Islands and wrested Taiwan from the Cheng family. Two years later, they made it a prefecture of Fujian Province. Although the Qing banned migration to Taiwan, many mainlanders were still attracted to its fertile soil. The economy was based on trade, and expansion shifted from the southwestern coast and plains around T’ai-nan (which had become a treaty port) to the north around Taipei, the new provincial capital. As Taiwan opened to foreign trade, European and American treaty port officials, merchants, and missionaries arrived in significant numbers. Economic and social transformation was accompanied by population growth and urbanization and, in 1885, Taiwan was raised to provincial status.

Japanese Colonial Period: Under the Treaty of Shimonoseki (April 17, 1895) following China’s defeat by Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), Taiwan and the P’eng-hu Islands were ceded to Japan. Tokyo saw Taiwan as a source of raw materials for Japan’s industries, a colonial market for Japanese goods, and a model for economic growth. Taiwan also provided Japan with an important strategic outpost and southern defensive position. However, in May 1895, a short-lived Taiwan Republic was proclaimed by the Chinese governor with the hope of Western intervention. After the governor quietly departed, remnant Qing troops, militia forces, and armed partisan bands engaged in a five-month-long resistance that brought further wartime damage. Over the next seven years, Japanese forces continued to pacify the island.

Japanese administrators conducted land surveys and brought order to the landholding system. The tax base began to improve as urban enterprises developed and a new class of owner-cultivators developed in rural areas. By the early twentieth century, railroads linked the northern and southern parts of the island, and new roads served interior areas. The Japanese-owned sugarcane industry became important. The population grew during the Japanese period from 3 million in 1905 to 9 million in 1945. Some of this growth came from the continued influx of laborers brought from the mainland. In 1920 the first Taiwanese-inspired political movement was formed, ultimately advocating a form of autonomy for the island. The reaction from Japan was negative, but the movement, led briefly by the New People’s Society and then the League for the Establishment of a Taiwan Parliament, continued until 1934, when it was suppressed by Japan’s emerging ultranationalist forces. Even though an increasingly skilled and better-educated population had emerged, Taiwan’s population was kept from political participation throughout the colonial period. Rule at times was harsh and repressive, especially after the end of the rule of civilian governors-general (1915–36). When Japan went on a war footing against China (1936–45), Taiwan became a staging area for the invasion of southern China. The wartime economy brought construction, growth of heavy industry, use of modern technology, and development of a skilled industrial labor force. Taiwanese troops and medical personnel were sent to various parts of the wartime theater. The sudden end of the war was troubling to many Taiwanese. Some had been loyal to Japan; others, full of hatred of colonial rule, looked forward to the return of Chinese rule. Taiwan self-determination was not offered as a consideration. Nevertheless, modern Taiwanese scholars see this period as an intrinsic part of their historical legacy, a period that brought the island into the modern age and began to define a separate identity from mainland China.

Postwar Occupation: The military forces of the Republic of China under the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party—Chung-kuo Kuo-min-tang—usually shorted to Kuomintang, KMT) arrived in Taiwan after the war and started to erase all vestiges of Japanese rule and to bring the island under Nationalist Chinese political, economic, and cultural influence. Rather than treating Taiwan as a liberated area, the KMT forces confronted the local population as enemy collaborators. Businesses were looted and goods were seized as KMT military officers and politicians took charge. The abolition of the use of widely spoken Japanese and the imposition of Mandarin Chinese led to communications and political problems. Taiwanese political groups and the media sought influence, but mainlanders predominated in the key provincial administrative positions. Provincial and local assembly elections took place in 1946, but the Taiwanese found their elected bodies had only limited powers. Decolonization and reintegration were proving difficult, and the KMT regime was turning out to be just as exploitative and controlling as the Japanese had been but less competent. Resentment was on the rise. When unarmed demonstrators protested the corrupt KMT occupation and overthrew the provincial administration in early 1947, they were violently suppressed in what has become known as the February 28 Incident. A military reign of terror ensued, and an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 (some say 100,000) people were killed and some 30,000 wounded. To commemorate this bloody event, February 28 has, since 1995, been marked as a national memorial day.

Taiwan under KMT Rule: Following the KMT defeat by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on the mainland in 1949 and faced with instability on the island on which he had to reestablish his base, KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi, 1888–1975) and his party reformed their regime politically and established a “socialist-minded state control” over heavy industry. Mainland refugees took over most aspects of governance, the economy, and the education system. The “loss of China” in 1949 and the onset of the Korean War (1950–53) against communist-run North Korea and its Chinese ally impelled the United States to help the Republic of China on Taiwan to become a bulwark against communism. The U.S. 7th Fleet was assigned to patrol the Taiwan Strait to prevent an invasion of Taiwan. The United States provided economic and military aid, and in 1954 a mutual security treaty was signed with the Republic of China as part of Washington’s Cold War policy of containment of the Beijing regime. But military aid was limited to what Taiwan needed to defend itself against the People’s Republic of China and not to support Chiang Kai-shek’s dream of “returning to the mainland.”

The government established on Taiwan in 1949 had national and provincial levels. The national level, with elected and appointed officials brought from the mainland, represented itself as the Republic of China in international forums and ostensibly prepared for a return to rule over all of the mainland. At the onset, the KMT controlled Taiwan, small offshore islands belonging to Fujian and Zhejiang provinces on the mainland, and Hainan Island, south of Guangdong Province. Although they lost control of Hainan and Zhejiang’s Chou-shan Islands in 1950 and Zhejiang’s Ta-chen Island in 1955, the islands appertaining to Fujian—Kinmen (Chin-men, Jinmen, or Quemoy) and Matsu (Ma-tzu)—were still under the control of the Republic of China in 2005. Beginning in the early 1950s, county, municipal, and provincial—but not national—elections were held. In 1959 the Taiwan Provincial Assembly was established, a situation that gave the Taiwan people an opportunity to participate in provincial life even though the central government maintained three parliamentary bodies—the National Assembly, the Legislative Yuan, and the Control Yuan, with seats largely held by mainlanders who had been elected prior to 1949—whose interests were not local but concerned a national territory that they no longer controlled. The tenures of these holdover representatives were extended by presidential order, but as they died off, the regime was forced to hold an election in 1969 to fill the empty seats. The two-term limitation on the presidency was amended by the National Assembly in 1960 to allow Chiang Kai-shek to remain in office during “the period of communist rebellion.” Local politics were controlled by the KMT through influence exerted on local politicians and manipulation of elections.

In the 1950s, the government transferred industries seized from the Japanese in 1945 to private management. Land reform also took place and greatly reduced tenancy. By the 1960s, following a decade of manufacture of consumer goods for domestic consumption, Taiwan shifted to the export trade, using low-paid labor to produce consumer electronics and other desirable goods. Americans and Japanese invested heavily in Taiwan’s industries, and export processing zones were established in Kao-hsiung and T’ai-chung, replete with tax incentives and export-tax exemptions. The Second Indochina War (1954–75) also stimulated the island’s economy. As further shifts to heavy industries, such as steel and petrochemicals, took place, the island became increasingly urbanized. Exports grew eightfold during the 1960s, as Taiwan became the world’s fastest growing economy. Personal income also increased, and the government began investing more in education. In 1965 the population stood at 12.6 million, and by 1985 had reached 19.2 million. By 1988 Taiwan’s gross national product (GNP) had reached US$95 billion, and per capita GNP, at US$4,800, was 10 times that of mainland China.

Despite these substantial economic advances—which brought Taiwan the characterization as one of the “Four Tigers” (along with South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore) of economic prowess in Asia—the Republic of China did not fare well in the international political milieu. Although a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council when the UN was formed in 1945, the Republic of China was ousted from the China seat in 1971 by a vote of the UN General Assembly. At the same time, the United States was changing its own policy of containing the People’s Republic of China, which led to further isolation of Taiwan. Washington’s recognition of Taipei ended in 1979, but quasi-official relations continued under other arrangements.

On the domestic front, the prosperity Taiwan enjoyed brought increasing pressure for political reform. As the original generation of mainlanders retired from positions of authority in the party, government, and military, they increasingly were replaced by Taiwan-born individuals. Even though a few independent Taiwanese politicians were elected to local and provincial positions, the KMT continued to hold a monopoly of central power. When Chiang Kei-shek died in 1975, he was succeeded by his son, Premier Chiang Ching-kuo (Jiang Jingguo), as head of the party and president of the Republic of China.

The younger, more liberal Chiang began “Taiwanizing” the KMT and the government, bringing in those who shared his views on socioeconomic modernization. The political door was cracked open, and soon independents (non-party—tang-wai or dangwai) were winning numerous seats in the Taiwan Provincial Assembly and in local elections. Things did not always go well, however. On December 10, 1979, there was a violent clash between tang-wai demonstrators and KMT-hired troublemakers and local police in Kao-hsiung. During the next eight years, government attempts to repress political activism were met with renewed middle-class activism, which eventually led to reform within the KMT. Emboldened, the tang-wai activists defied the government’s ban on establishing new political parties and founded the Democratic Progressive Party (Minzhu Jinpu Dang, abbreviated as Minjindang; DPP) in September 1986. Chiang resisted his conservative colleagues in the KMT and allowed the DPP to stand. In October 1986, Chiang facilitated a resolution to end martial law, which had been in effect since 1948. In December 1986, the first legal two-party Legislative Yuan election was held, and the DPP won 12 of the 73 open seats. Chiang also made liberalizing gestures to Beijing by allowing Republic of China citizens to visit the mainland.

When he died in January 1988, Chiang Ching-kuo was succeeded by his vice president, Lee Teng-hui, a Taiwanese-born and Japanese- and American-educated academician who had previously served as the appointed governor of Taiwan Province. Although the KMT won the most seats in the 1989 elections, the DPP made major advances. The KMT, however, was becoming increasingly factionalized over political reform and foreign policy. Lee was elected president by the National Assembly in his own right in 1990, but a conservative career military man—“one-China” policy supporter and law-and-order advocate Hau Pei-tsun—was elected premier. This situation further factionalized the KMT and emboldened the DPP to issue statements promoting Taiwan independence. Lee Tung-hui continued his reforms by transforming the National Assembly to a smaller (327 seats instead of 613), popularly elected legislature with four-year instead of six-year terms. Another parliamentary body, the Legislative Yuan, was reduced from 220 seats to 161. The DPP’s platform called for a plebiscite on independence, but voters, uneasy with this concept, overwhelmingly supported KMT candidates in the December 1990 National Assembly elections (254 seats for the KMT to 66 for the DPP).

KMT factional politics eventually meant losses for the conservatives led by Hau Pei-tsun and victory for Lee Tung-hui. In 1991 Lee declared an end to the hostilities with the mainland regime, abandoned the long-standing claims that the Taiwan authorities governed mainland China, and stated that Taiwan no longer disputed the fact that the People’s Republic of China controlled mainland China. KMT power was slipping, as it won only 102 seats to 50 seats for the DPP and 9 other seats for tang-wai candidates in the 1992 Legislative Yuan elections. The DPP then joined with the New KMT Alliance, a coalition of anti-Lee, reform-minded, pro-reunification KMT legislators, to pass the Sunshine Bill, an act to force legislators and bureaucrats to disclose their financial assets. In July 1993, the New KMT Alliance broke with the KMT to form the New Party (Hsin Tang or Xindang, initially the Chinese New Party or Zhongguo Xindang). An amendment to the constitution in 1994 led in March 1996 to the election of Lee Tung-hui as Taiwan’s first popularly elected president, with Premier Lien Chan as vice president and the KMT winning 54 percent of the vote. In the National Assembly elections held at the same time, the KMT won only a slim majority, 183 seats to the DPP’s 99 seats and the New Party’s 56 seats. During his second term, Lee said that a “special state-to-state relationship” existed in Taiwan’s relations with China. In doing so, he incurred the wrath of Beijing, and new cross-strait tensions set in.

A New Political Era: The presidential election of March 2000 was a momentous one for Taiwan. DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian, who had served as the elected mayor of Taipei from 1994 to 1998, defeated KMT candidate Lien Chan and the more-than 50-year era of KMT dominance was over. Although the DPP won the larger share of seats in the Legislative Yuan, the KMT’s alliance with the People First Party (Qinmindang, a KMT breakaway party) gave the KMT de facto control. Thus, the new era also meant one of divided government and impediments for the new DPP administration. Further complications arose to thwart the DPP’s efforts soon after Chen’s inauguration in May 2000, when the international high-technology industry began experiencing severe problems and orders from Taiwan quickly and substantially decreased. In 2003, as the economy began to recover, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis hit Taiwan, temporarily shaking confidence. Despite the inauguration of Lunar New Year tourist flights from Taiwan to China via Hong Kong and Macau, Beijing continued to be wary of the DPP and refused to engage in suggested government-to-government talks or anything else relating to direct links that might improve Chen Shui-bian’s chances at winning a second term in 2004. Chen ran a successful campaign, and, despite an assassination attempt on March 19, 2004, he went on to win a second term in the March 20, 2004, election. In the December 2004 Legislative Yuan elections, the DPP won more seats than any other party and was allied with another major party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (Taiwan Tuanjie Lianmeng; TSU) in the Pan-Green alliance. However, the KMT-People First Party coalition (known as the Pan-Blue alliance) had greater strength in overall numbers and thus continued to control the legislature.


Location: Taiwan is located in East Asia and situated on two

strategic straits, the Taiwan Strait, facing the southeastern coast

of China, and the Luzon Strait, which connects the Pacific Ocean

with the South China Sea north of the Philippines. Besides the

island of Taiwan and six small islands that appertain to it off the

Pacific Ocean (east) coast, the government also controls the

P’eng-hu Islands (64 islands southwest of Taiwan in the middle

of the Taiwan Strait, also known as the Pescadores). On the west

side of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan controls Kinmen (12 islands,

also rendered as Chin-men, Jinmen, and Quemoy), 182 nautical

miles west of Taiwan; and Matsu (10 islands, also rendered Ma-

114 nautical miles west of Taiwan. Both Kinmen and Matsu appertain

to China’s Fu-chien (Fujian) Province. Taiwan also has effective jurisdiction over the Tung-sha (Dongsha or Pratas) Islands and Taiping Island (Ita Abu Island) in the Nan-sha (Spratly Islands) in the South China Sea.

Size: Taiwan’s total area is 35,980 square kilometers, of which 32,260 square kilometers are land and 3,720 square kilometers are water.

Land Boundaries: Taiwan and other islands under its jurisdiction have no land boundaries.

Length of Coastline: The total coastline of Taiwan measures 1,566 kilometers. The East China Sea is to the north, the Pacific Ocean is to the east, the Philippine Sea is to the southeast, the South China Sea is to the southwest, and the Taiwan Strait is to the west.

Maritime Claims: Taipei claims a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles. Taiwan is involved in a complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over islands in the South China Sea. These include the Nan-sha (Spratly) Islands, Hsi-sha (Sisha or Xisha, Paracel) Islands, Tung-sha (Dongsha, Pratas) Islands, and Chung-sha (Zhongsha, or Macclesfield Bank) Islands. Taiwan and China also lay claim to a small archipelago 75 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, called Tiao-yü T’ai (or Diaoyutai; known to Japan as the Senkaku Islands), which are under Japanese administration.

Topography: The eastern two-thirds of Taiwan, facing the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean, is mostly rugged mountains, which run north to south and cover about 63 percent of the island. The T’ai-tung Mountains in the east have an average elevation of 1,000 meters. The Chung-yang Shan (Central Mountains) range dominates the island, with some 200 peaks that exceed 3,000 meters. The highest point at 3,952 meters above sea level is Yü-shan (Jade Mountain, also known as Mount Morrison) in the Yü-shan Shan Mountains (Jade Mountains), on the southwest side of the Chung-yang Shan Mountains. Volcanic peaks are found in the Ta-t’un Shan Mountain area near Chi-lung (Keelung) and Taipei. To the west of the Chung-yang Shan are rolling hills that descend to gently rolling alluvial plains and the Taiwan Strait. This relatively flat region extends some 300 kilometers north to south but is no wider than 50 kilometers at its broadest reach. The lowest point is zero meters above sea level along parts of the coast.


Principal Rivers: Taiwan has some 151 rivers and streams with short, steep descents on the east side of the island and longer but still steep descents into the western alluvial plains. The Cho-shui River is the longest at 187 kilometers, with a drainage basin of 3,157 square kilometers. The 171-kilometer-long Kao-p’ing River has the largest drainage basin (3,257 square kilometers). The Taipei Basin is drained by the 159-kilometer-long Tan-shui River, which once was deep enough for ocean-going sailing ships but now is restricted to shallow-draft boats.

Climate: The climate is tropical and marine. There is a rainy season during the southwest monsoon, from June to August. Cloudiness is persistent and extensive year-round. Typhoons regularly hit Taiwan during July to September each year. The lowest monthly average rainfall is normally in November, at 66 millimeters; the greatest is in August, with 305 millimeters. Most rain falls between May and October, and the driest months are between November and February. The mean annual rainfall in the Taiwan area is 2,483 millimeters, with heavier rainfalls in the north and south and slightly lower levels in the east and central regions. Average temperatures range between 12E C and 18E C in the coldest month (February) and 24E C to 33E C in the hottest month (July).

Natural Resources: The most important natural resources are small deposits of asbestos, coal, limestone, marble, and natural gas.

Land Use: Twenty-four percent of the land is arable but has been diminishing since the late 1970s as a result of urbanization and industrialization. About 1 percent of the land is planted to permanent crops. The rest is categorized as “other.”

Environmental Factors: Because of its location at the junction of the Manila Trench and the Ryukyu Trench along the west side of the Philippine Sea plate, Taiwan is susceptible to earthquakes. Large earthquakes occurred in Taiwan in 1935, 1986, and twice in 1999. Seasonal typhoons sometimes cause violent weather conditions leading to death and destruction. Five decades of rapid industrialization have caused considerable environmental damage to Taiwan. The resulting major concerns are air pollution, water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage, contamination of drinking water supplies, trade in endangered species, and low-level radioactive waste disposal. Taiwan’s rivers are heavily polluted near the coast. The government’s Environmental Protection Agency monitors environmental problems and requires environmental impact assessments from industrial and other potential polluters.

Time Zone: Taiwan is in one time zone (Asia/Taipei), 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.


Population: Taiwan’s population was estimated in July 2004 at 22,749,838. The population at the most recent census (2000) stood at 22,300,929. The annual population growth rate is 0.64 percent. Estimates put Taiwan’s population density at 705.2 persons per square kilometer in 2004, the second highest in the world after Bangladesh. The most densely populated area is Kao-hsiung, with 9,827 persons per square kilometer; Taipei is second, with 9,720 persons per square kilometer. About 69 percent of the population lives in urban areas and 31 percent in rural areas.

Demography: According to estimates of Taiwan’s age structure, 19.9 percent of the population is 0–14 years of age; 70.7 percent, 15–64 years of age; and 9.4 percent, 65 and older. Estimates made in 2004 indicate a birthrate of nearly 12.7 births per 1,000 population and a death rate of almost 6.3 deaths per 1,000. In 2004 life expectancy at birth was estimated at nearly 80.1 years for women and 74.3 for men, or 77.0 years total. The infant mortality rate was estimated at 6.5 per 1,000 live births, and the total fertility rate for 2004 was estimated at about 1.6 children per woman. The gender ratio at birth was 1.1 males to 1 female.

Migration: In the 1960s, numerous Taiwan residents left for educational and employment opportunities abroad in industrialized nations, but as Taiwan became an economic powerhouse in the 1980s and 1990s, many returned or stayed. Migration from Taiwan since the 1990s has been primarily to mainland China, mostly to Shanghai and Guangdong Province.

Ethnic Groups: Native-born Taiwanese, including Hakka (originally from upland areas of Guangdong and Fujian), make up 84 percent of the population. Mainland Chinese constitute 14 percent of the population and tribal aborigines about 2 percent. Since 1994, the aborigines, once referred to by the government as “mountain compatriots,” “mountain people,” or “Taiwanese aborigines,” officially have been called Yuan-chu-min or “Taiwan aboriginal peoples.” The Ministry of Interior reports that Taiwan has 12 major indigenous peoples: the Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Kavalan, Paiwan, Pinuyumayan or Punuyumayan, Rukai, Saisiyat, Thao, Truku, Tsou, and Yami. In 2002 indigenous peoples in Taiwan totaled 433,689, with the Amis representing 32.3 percent of the total, followed by the Atayal (14 percent) and the Paiwan (13.8 percent). Many of these indigenous people live in the eastern half of Taiwan on mountainous reservations that cannot be sold to non-aborigines.

Languages: The major and official language is Mandarin Chinese (Kuo-yü, or national language), which is the first language of about 20 percent of the population, mainly in Taipei (Taipei dialect) and other large cities, and is spoken as a second language by many others. The Taiwanese dialect (T’ai-yü, also known as Minnan) is spoken by about 70 percent of the population and is becoming widely used in the broadcast media. Although there are about 4 million Hakka in Taiwan, the Hakka dialect is spoken mostly by the older generation. The Wade-Giles system of romanization of Mandarin Chinese words prevails in Taiwan even though in 1984 the Ministry of Education adopted a modified system of Mandarin romanization called Gwoyeu Romatzyh (National Phonetic Symbols), which was devised by the Republic of China government in 1928. Then, in 2002 the government officially adopted the Tongyong (universal) Pinyin (combined sound) system—similar to Hanyu (Han language) Pinyin used in mainland China—as recommended in 1996 by the Educational Reform Council. Aboriginal peoples once spoke 24 Austronesian languages, but seven of these languages are extinct, with only a few elderly people knowing a few words. The population includes a few thousand Japanese speakers; Japanese is spoken mostly among elderly aboriginal populations and as a second language by Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka speakers.

Religion: Freedom of religion is guaranteed in Article 13 of the Republic of China constitution. In the early 2000s, of Taiwan’s 12.7 million temple, church, and mosque members, 42.9 percent were Buddhists, 35.6 percent were adherents of Daoism (Taoism), 6.6 percent were believers in I-kuan Tao (Yiguan Dao, Religion of One Unity, a modern syncretic faith), 4.7 percent were Protestants, and 2.3 percent were Roman Catholics. The 16 other religions tabulated by the Ministry of Interior include Islam (4.1 percent) and Confucianism, described as “a philosophy with a religious function” (1 percent). Taiwan has 23,201 temples and churches, and most are Daoist temples (37 percent), Buddhist temples (17.4 percent), or Protestant churches (15.5 percent). Among the general population, religious beliefs are often eclectic rather than exclusive, such as Christianity and Islam. Many people in Taiwan belong to a particular temple or specific religious sect but engage regularly in religious practices based on one or more religious traditions. Thus, small shrines are seen throughout Taiwan honoring a deity, a hero, or an ancestor. The goddess Mazu, to whom are attributed seeing the future, curing the ill, and rescuing people imperiled on the sea, is extremely popular in Taiwan, and more than 400 temples honor her. While many aborigines are animists whose beliefs center around deities in nature, spirits of dead people, living creatures, and ghosts, more than 70 percent are said to be Christians.

Education and Literacy: The right to an education is guaranteed by the Republic of China constitution. A nine-year compulsory public education system has been in place since 1979, with six years of elementary school and three years of junior high. Nearly 94 percent of junior high graduates go on to senior high or vocational schools. Mandarin Chinese is the medium of instruction. In school year 2003–4, the system included 3,306 preschools, with 240,926 students and 21,251 teachers; 2,638 primary schools, with 1.9 million students and 103,793 teachers; and 1,192 secondary schools, including vocational schools, with 1.7 million students and 97,738 teachers. During the same school year, there were 158 institutions of higher education, with 1.3 million students and 47,472 faculty members, and another 958 special and supplementary schools (such as adult and continuing education), with 5.7 million students and 277,773 teachers. Enrollment rates have improved with the increasing development of Taiwan’s economy. In 2002 some 97 percent of children aged 6 to 11 were enrolled in primary schools, and 90 percent of children aged 12 to 17 were enrolled in secondary schools. Some 46 percent of the population was enrolled in tertiary levels of education (vocational schools, colleges, universities, adult education, and other postsecondary schools), and 12.9 students per 100 households were enrolled in colleges and universities in 2002. Graduate programs are expanding in the early twenty-first century, but many college degree holders seeking postgraduate education continue to go abroad. Formerly, the Kuomintang (KMT) imbued the education system with the goal of reunification with China under KMT rule. After the KMT lost control of the executive branch of government to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2000, the new school curriculum began to offer more Taiwan-based content, including the study of Taiwanese language and literature. Taiwan had a literacy rate of 96.1 percent as of 2003.

Health: In 2002 Taiwan had nearly 1.6 physicians and 5.9 hospital beds per 1,000 population. Throughout the Taiwan area, there were 36 hospitals and 2,601 clinics in 2002. Per capita health expenditures totaled US$752 in 2000. Health expenditures constituted 5.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001; 64.9 percent of the expenditures were from public funds. As with other developed economies, Taiwan’s people are well-nourished but face such health problems as chronic obesity and heart disease. In 2003 the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis hit Taiwan, but the island was later declared safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). In November 2004, the Department of Health announced that human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) had become an increasingly serious problem in Taiwan. The first reported case surfaced in 1984. In 2004 there were 6,850 known cases, with 92.9 percent of the infections occurring in Taiwanese and 7.1 percent in foreigners. In 2003 there were 860 new cases of HIV infections, and by October 2004, 1,120 new cases were confirmed on the island. This announcement was followed by the launching of a new public awareness campaign.

Welfare: The government has offered a national health insurance program since 1995 through the National Health Insurance Bureau. Under this plan, employers pay 60 percent of the costs, employees 30 percent, and the government 10 percent. In 1984 the government established rules for the allocation and management of a then-new Workers’ Retirement Fund. The rules provide that a retiree is entitled to a maximum pension equal to 45 times his average wage in the six months prior to retirement. To ensure that workers receive this pension should their employer file for bankruptcy, the government also set up a Wage Arrears Repayment Fund to which all employers are required to contribute a small percentage of each employee’s salary. Since 1993, a monthly subsidy has been provided to all people 65 and older and to low-income families. In 2002 the government established a monthly pension of US$86 for residents 65 years or older who meet certain requirements.


Overview: Taiwan is characterized as a “dynamic capitalist” economy. Under the liberalized economic policies in place since the early 1990s, the government has gradually decreased the guidance it provides over investment and foreign trade, as reflected in the privatization of large government-owned banks and industries. Since the 1950s, exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. Taiwan evolved from a minor agricultural exporter to the world’s largest exporter of computer monitors, a leading personal computer exporter, and a major producer of the world’s electronics. Because of its relatively conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan did not suffer as much as many of its neighbors did from the Asian financial crisis in 1997–98. However, as a result of the turn-of-the-century international economic downturn, along with problems in government policy coordination and bad debts in the banking system, Taiwan went into recession in 2001, the first year of negative growth ever recorded, but experienced moderate recovery in 2002. In January 2002, Taiwan entered the World Trade Organization as a special customs territory. Another major factor in this new growth has been improved economic ties with mainland China, which by 2003 had become Taiwan’s largest two-way trading partner.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)/Gross National Product (GNP): GDP for 2004 was US$313.1 billion, and the GDP growth rate was estimated at 3.2 percent in 2004. GNP in 2004 was US$313.6 billion, with a growth rate of 5.9 percent. Per capita GNP in 2003 was US$13,995. Based on 2004 estimates, Taiwan’s purchasing parity power (PPP) was nearly US$528.6 billion total, or US$23,400 per capita.

Government Budget: It is estimated that for 2004, revenues were nearly US$56.7 billion and expenditures US$69.2 billion, including US$14.4 billion in capital expenditures. The central government budget for 2005 was US$48.1 billion.

Inflation: The inflation rate is estimated at –0.3 percent for 2004.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing: Agriculture has played a decreasing role in the economy since the 1960s. Agriculture represented 28.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 1960, 4.9 percent in 1987, but only 1.7 percent in 2004, when the sector experienced a –0.1 percent growth rate. The major agricultural products, according to their production volume, are vegetables, sugarcane, rice, fruit, sweet potatoes, corn, peanuts, and tea. Based on the number of head of livestock, most animal husbandry production is of poultry, pigs, sheep and goats, and cattle. Forestry products include industrial wood (about 64 percent of the total and including sawn timber, raw timber, and bamboo polls) and firewood. Overall, forestry is of diminishing importance, and resources are either of low quality or inaccessible. Despite Taiwan’s island location, fishing plays a minor role—about 25 percent of total agricultural production—in the economy. In 2003 some 1.1 million tons of fish, 304 tons of shellfish and other aquatic animals—mostly from offshore and deep-sea fishing—and 40,900 tons of aquatic plants were caught or harvested. Taiwan’s fishing fleet is composed of around 29,000 boats. Aquaculture provides about 20 percent of Taiwan’s seafood production.

Mining and Minerals: The mining sector has been in decline since the 1970s. Minor amounts of clay, copper, dolomite, feldspar, limestone, manganese, marble, salt, serpentine, and sulphur are still extracted. Domestic coal mining fell precipitously after the mid- to late 1960s and is made up for by more economical imports. The last coal mine closed in 2001.

Industry and Manufacturing: Manufacturing is the key to Taiwan’s economic success and continues to account for most of the island’s exports. However, the sector has been slowly declining as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP) since the late 1980s (when it accounted for 42.9 percent of GDP), as low-technology industries moved elsewhere and value-added services increased. The major industries are electronics—Taiwan is the world’s largest producer of computer monitors and one of the world’s leading personal computer exporters—as well as petrochemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, and food processing. In 2004 industry registered a 2.9 percent growth rate and produced 29.7 percent of GDP, including manufacturing, which produced 25.7 percent of GDP. Taiwan’s information-technology products increasingly—about 63 percent of the total—are manufactured by Taiwan-owned companies in mainland China. Taiwan retains the research and development and high-end product manufacturing (such as semiconductors and liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors) and leaves bulk production to mainland subsidiaries.

Energy: Taiwan depends on foreign supplies for 98 percent of its energy needs. Of the remaining 2 percent produced domestically, more than 50 percent is supplied by 41 hydroelectric plants. Of the energy imports, about 50 percent are of crude oil and petroleum products, 30 percent are coal, and 10 percent are liquefied natural gas, all of which are used to provide fuel to 31 thermal power plants. Taiwan also has three nuclear power plants, which depend on foreign fuel imports. Energy was long the monopoly of the government-owned Taiwan Power (Taipower), but even with deregulation and the beginning of the privatization of Taipower in 2001, as of 2004 only 4 of 11 planned independent power plants had come online. Taipower itself was slated for full privativization in 2005. In 2001 Taiwan produced 151.1 billion kilowatt hours of electric energy and used 140.5 billion kilowatt hours. Its refined oil production totaled an estimated 1,100 barrels per day in 2004 against a consumption (for which 2001 is the latest year reported) of 988,999 barrels per day. Taiwan has proven oil reserves of 2 million barrels. Natural gas production reached 750 million cubic meters in 2001 against a consumption of 6.6 billion cubic meters. Taiwan has 38.2 billion cubic meters of proven natural gas reserves. Although Taiwan’s exports of natural gas amounted to 410 million cubic meters in 2001, imports for the same year totaled 6.3 billion cubic meters.

Services: The services sector is Taiwan’s largest, producing 68.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), with a 3.1 percent growth rate in 2004. The sector includes finance, insurance and real estate; commerce (trade and eating-drinking places); social, personal, and related community services; transportation, storage, and communications; business services; producers of government services; and other producers. The largest subsector, at 21.2 percent of GDP, was commerce.

Banking and Finance: Taiwan’s central bank, the semiautonomous Central Bank of China, was established in 1924, relocated to Taiwan in December 1949, and resumed full operations in 1961. Since 1979, the Central Bank of China has been subordinate to the Executive Yuan but has independent authority in setting monetary policies. As with other sectors of the economy, Taiwan’s banking and finance sector has undergone reforms. Since 1989, interest rates have been removed from government control, and restrictions on establishing bank branches were lifted. Investment and trust companies were allowed to become full-fledged banks, new private banks were permitted to open, and state banks were privatized. Structural weaknesses that had negative effects on the financial sector in the late 1990s were the object of further government reform in the early 2000s. These weaknesses included the establishment of too many small and under-capitalized banks and resulting fierce competition among them, lending to too many companies suffering from short-term financial difficulties, and the division of responsibility for governmental regulatory duties. As reform measures, taxes were cut, consolidation and diversification were encouraged, and the government-funded Financial Reconstruction Fund was established. By 2003 Taiwan had 52 private and government-owned banks, and the government planned to divest itself of commercial bank ownership. Taiwan’s stock market also is in flux. The oldest and largest stock market is the Taiwan Stock Exchange (Taisdaq), the majority traders (80 percent) in which are retail investors, whose holdings are subject to cross-Taiwan Strait activities, regional economic trends, and increased margin trading. The domestic futures market began in 1998 with the opening of the Taiwan International Mercantile Exchange (Taimex).

Tourism: Tourism is a minor industry in Taiwan but has gradually improved since the late 1980s, when Taiwan was receiving about 1.2 million foreign visitors a year. By 2002 that number had risen to more than 2.9 million but dropped in 2003 to 2.2 million with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Most visitors in 2003 came from Japan (29 percent) and the United States (12 percent). However, some 19 percent were overseas Chinese from a variety of countries throughout the world who traveled to Taiwan on Taiwan passports. Tourist spending also dropped in 2003, from US$4.5 billion in 2002 to US$2.9 billion in 2003.

Labor: Taiwan’s labor force was estimated to number nearly 10.1 million in 2004. Of this total, based on 2001 estimates, 7.5 percent were involved in agriculture, 35 percent in industry, and 57 percent in services. The Chinese Federation of Labor represents 43 national and regional labor union federations, which, in turn, represent some 1 million workers. Other federations include the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions and the National Trade Union Confederation. As of 2003, about 29 percent of the labor force belonged to 4,111 registered labor unions. During the recession of 2001, Taiwan experienced the highest unemployment rates in its history (4.5 percent). The unemployment rate was estimated at 4.1 percent as of late 2004.

Foreign Economic Relations: Despite the dearth of diplomatic relations with foreign nations, Taiwan enjoys vigorous international trade relations. Taiwan’s phenomenal economic growth has been fueled largely by the export trade, and, thus, Taiwan depends on an open-world trade regime. Since the 1950s, Taiwan has moved from exporting primarily agricultural products to exporting primarily industrial goods, which in 2005 represented 98 percent of all of Taiwan’s exports. In January 2002, Taiwan became a member of the World Trade Organization as a special customs territory. Throughout its modernization period, Taiwan’s largest trading partner was the United States. However, since 2003 Japan and China both have overtaken the United States in this role. In 2004 Taiwan’s total foreign trade amounted to US$341.8 billion. The largest two-way trade partners were Japan (16.6 percent), China (14.8 percent), the United States (14.5 percent), Hong Kong (9.3 percent), and South Korea (4.9 percent).

Imports: In 2004 Taiwan imported a total of US$167.8 billion, principally machinery, electrical equipment, minerals, and precision instruments. The major import partners were Japan (25.9 percent), the United States (12.8 percent), China (9.9 percent), South Korea (6.9 percent), and Germany (3.4 percent).

Exports: In 2004 Taiwan exported a total of US$174 billion, principally computer products, electronic equipment, metals, textiles, plastics and rubber products, and chemicals. The major export partners were China (19.5 percent), Hong Kong (17.1 percent), the United States (16.1 percent), Japan (7.5 percent), and Singapore (6.3 percent).

Trade Balance: Taiwan’s exports in 2003 were US$143.4 billion against US$118.5 billion in imports, leaving a positive trade balance of US$24.9 billion. Its largest surplus is with China (more than US$22 billion in 2003), an amount that is likely to decrease when and if the government lifts restrictions on imports of merchandise from the mainland.

Balance of Payments: The current account balance has fluctuated in recent decades. It increased in the years up to 1991 (US$12.5 billion), then went into almost annual declines for the next several years, and bottomed out at US$3.4 billion in 1998. Since then it has improved as exports increased during the same period. Taiwan’s current account balance in 2003 was US$29.2 billion and the overall balance was US$37.1 billion.

External Debt: Taiwan’s external debt was estimated at US$53.4 billion in 2004, almost entirely private-sector debt. The public debt stood at 30.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004. Taiwan’s foreign exchange reserves totaled US$206 billion at the start of 2004, the third largest in the world behind China and Japan.

Foreign Investment: The growth of Taiwan’s export trade in the 1990s led to an average growth of 10 percent a year in private-sector investment. But private-sector investment is susceptible to fluctuations in export growth, and when the latter stalled during the 2001 recession, so did capital investment. Taiwan is a net investor overseas. In the 1996–2002 period, Taiwan’s overseas investments totaled US$34.4 billion, while foreign direct investment in Taiwan—mostly from Japan and the United States—totaled US$17.8 billion. Most of Taiwan’s overseas investments are in the United States (US$4.9 billion, or 18.4 percent of total investments in 1992–2002), followed by those in Southeast Asian nations (US$4.8 billion, or 16.1 percent of total investments during the same period). The Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for overseeing government-approved investment in mainland China. Between 1991, when restrictions were lifted, and 2003, the ministry approved more than US$33.6 billion in investments in China, making investment from Taiwan the fifth largest in China. However, others have estimated the actual figure as closer to US$100 billion. Up to 2000, the Kuomintang (KMT) government encouraged a slow and cautious pace in mainland investment, a move that was unpopular with the business community. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which officially did not seek to open direct links with the People’s Republic of China, initiated a more open policy, but many investors saw no difference from the KMT policy.

Currency and Exchange Rate: Taiwan’s currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$), which was instituted in 1949. The exchange rate in March 2005 was US$1 = NT$30.82. The New Taiwan Dollar is made up of 100 cents. Coins are issued in denominations of NT$0.50, NT$1, NT$10, and NT$50, and banknotes are issued in denominations of NT$100, NT$500, NT$1,000, and NT$2,000.

Fiscal Year: Calendar year, starting in 2001.


Overview: Taiwan has a modern and comprehensive transportation infrastructure. With two international airports serving the world’s major airlines, an extensive network of highways and expressways, and a railroad system that circles the island and is soon to be joined by bullet-train service north to south, the island is well served. Additionally, it has modern port facilities at strategic locations to export its large industrial production. Taiwan’s telecommunications are among the most sophisticated and well used in the world.

Roads: Taiwan had 37,342 kilometers of highways, including 608 kilometers of expressways, in 2003. Of the total, about 88 percent of roads were paved and about 12 percent were unpaved rural roads. In 2003 Taiwan had 5.2 million passenger automobiles, 25,600 buses and coaches, 885,780 trucks and goods-carrying vehicles, and 12.4 million motorcycles and motor scooters in use. In the same year, some 388,000 new passenger automobiles and 4,100 new trucks and buses were manufactured.

Railroads: Construction of Taiwan’s first railroad began in 1887 and was completed in 1891. That same year, the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) was established as a public utility. It now is part of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation. Most other routes were built during the Japanese occupation, between 1908 and 1941. By 2003 Taiwan had 1,103.7 kilometers of 1.067-meter track. Of this total, 519 kilometers were electrified, 514.8 kilometers had double tracks, and 588.9 kilometers had single tracks. The TRA operates commuter, long-distance passenger, and freight services. There are three main lines, the Western and Eastern lines, which join in the north at Chi-lung (Keelung), and the South-Link Line, which was completed in 1991 and connects the southern terminals of the Western and Eastern lines. There also are three branch lines. At the start of 2004, the TRA had 173 electric and 155 diesel locomotives, 171 diesel multiple-unit railcars, 66 diesel single-unit railcars, 563 electric multiple-unit railcars, 1,351 passenger coaches, and 2,755 freight cars. Daily, the TRA system carries nearly 500,000 passengers and about 50,000 tons of freight. During 2003 railroads carried 478.2 million passengers, accounting for nearly 11.2 billion passenger/kilometers, and 16.7 million tons of freight, accounting for 863.9 million ton/kilometers. The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation has completed construction of double-track, standard-gauge bullet-train service between Taipei and Kao-hsiung. When fully operational and using Japanese-made Shinkansen trains, it will take 90 minutes to travel the 345-kilometer route at 350 kilometers per hour. In January 2005, the eight-station (four other stations are planned) route was undergoing running tests, and operations are expected to begin in fall 2005. Another 1,400 kilometers of 0.762-meter narrow-gauge track belong to the Taiwan Sugar Corporation and the Taiwan Forestry Bureau and are used primarily to transport their products and a limited number of passengers.

Rapid Transit: Construction of the Taipei Rapid Transit System, or Metro Taipei, began in 1987. The first line, the elevated Muzha Line, went into operation in 1996, and between 1997 and 2004 four additional lines and three branch lines became operational. The 65.3 kilometers of lines in operation have 68 stations and a combination of underground, elevated, and surface tracks. Four underground or elevated lines are under construction, with opening dates between 2007 and 2010, either as extensions or branches of existing lines. Three other lines are planned. The two-line, 42.7-kilometer-long, 37-station Kao-hsiung Mass Rapid Transit system has been under construction since 2001. The mostly underground system is scheduled for completion in late 2006. Proposals have been made for similar systems in T’ai-chung and T’ai-nan.

Ports: Taiwan has five major international ports. The largest facility, according to cargo volume, is Kao-hsiung, which is located in southwestern Taiwan and handles more than 50 percent of the total. It is one of the busiest ports in the world. Other international ports are An-p’ing, north of Kao-hsiung; Chi-lung (Keelung), on the northern tip of Taiwan; Hua-lien, on the central east coast; Su-ao, an auxiliary port to Chi-lung; and T’ai-chung, on the central west coast, about 25 kilometers west of the city of T’ai-chung. Taiwan’s merchant fleet has some 649 vessels, including 130 ships of 1,000 gross registered tons or more. This latter category includes 36 bulk carriers, 23 cargo ships, 2 chemical tankers, 3 combination bulk carriers, 37 container ships, 17 petroleum tankers, 10 refrigerated cargo ships, and 2 roll on/roll off ships. In 2003 some 457 Taiwanese-owned ships were registered in other countries.

Inland and Coastal Waterways: Taiwan has no significant inland waterways. Its coastal waterways are served by numerous small, medium, and large ports.

Civil Aviation and Airports: Taiwan has 40 airports, 37 of which have paved runways, and three heliports. Of paved-runway airports, eight have runways of more than 3,047 meters. Taiwan has two international airports. Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, located at T’ao-yüan, 40 kilometers west of Taipei, opened in 1979 and was expanded in 2000. It has two terminals serving 32 domestic and foreign airlines; its longest runway is 3,600 meters. The other is the Kao-hsiung International Airport, 10 kilometers outside of Kao-hsiung. The airport’s longest runway is 3,150 meters, and its international terminal was completed in 1997. Taiwan’s China Airlines (CAL) is the major domestic and international carrier. CAL has a fleet of 55 Airbus and Boeing aircraft and 22 more on order from the same two companies. As with many state-owned companies, CAL has been undergoing privatization. Other major carriers are EVA Airways, Far Eastern Air Transport, Mandarin Airlines, Transasia Airways, and UNI Airways, with fleets of aircraft serving a variety of regional and domestic destinations. In 2003 civil aviation transported 37.8 million passengers and 1.6 million tons of freight to, from, and within Taiwan.

Pipelines: Taiwan had 25 kilometers of condensate pipelines and 435 kilometers of gas pipelines in 2004.

Telecommunications: Taiwan had 135 AM radio stations, 49 FM stations, and some 16 million radios reported in operation in 2002. Many stations also offered Internet access to their broadcasts. In 1997 there were 29 television broadcast stations. Almost every household in Taiwan has a color television (99.6 sets per 100 households, or around 7 million sets, in 2002) and many also have cable service (74.8 cable receivers per 100 households in 2002). In 2003 there were nearly 13.4 main-line telephones, and in 2004 there were more than 23 million cellular telephone subscribers. The domestic telephone system is fully digital. International service is provided via two earth satellite stations servicing two Intelsat satellites, one over the Pacific Ocean and one over the Indian Ocean. Submarine cables connect Taiwan to Japan via Okinawa, Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. Taiwanese are major users of the Internet, having more than 7.8 million users in 2003. The Directorate General of Telecommunications, which serves as the telecommunications regulatory authority and determines power and frequencies in Taiwan, is subordinate to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The Government Information Office supervises the operation of all radio and television stations, both private and government-owned.

Index for Taiwan:
Overview | Government


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