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98% Han 70% Hoklo 14% Hakka 14% Waishengren
2% Taiwanese aboriginesPortuguese: (Ilha) FormosaTraditional Chinese福爾摩沙Simplified Chinese福尔摩沙Literal meaningbeautiful island
Taiwan (Chinese: 台灣; pinyin: Táiwān, /ˌtaɪˈwɑːn/ ty-wahn), also known, especially in the past, as Formosa (from Portuguese: Ilha Formosa, "Beautiful Island"), is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China (ROC) following the Chinese Civil War in 1950. Due to this reason and the disputed political status of Republic of China in the United Nations, the name "Taiwan" has also become the pars pro toto common name for the country itself. (See also Names of the Republic of China.)
Separated from the Asian continent by the 160 km (99 mi) wide Taiwan Strait, Taiwan is 394 km (245 mi) long and 144 kilometres (89 mi) wide. To the northeast are the main islands of Japan and the East China Sea, and the southern end of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan is directly to the east; the Batanes Islands of the Philippines lie to its south across the Bashi Channel. The mountainous island spans the Tropic of Cancer and is covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation. Other minor islands and islets of the group include the Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Green Island, and Orchid Island, as well as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku islands), which have been controlled by Japan since the 1970s.
Taiwan was ceded to the Empire of Japan by the Qing Empire in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. In 1945 the Republic of China acquired control of Taiwan from Japan as a result of World War II. Four years later the ROC lost mainland China in the Chinese Civil War to the Communist Party of China and resettled its government to Taiwan. Taiwan composes the vast majority of the ROC's territory since 1950, and this is one of multiple reasons that the ROC is commonly known as "Taiwan". The political status of Taiwan is disputed because it is claimed by the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949 by the communists on mainland China and considers itself the successor state to the ROC. In fact, since PRC's establishment, it never controlled any of the territories the ROC government currently governs. Japan had originally acquired Taiwan from the Qing Empire in 1895 under Article 2 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. At the end of World War II, Japan renounced all claims to sovereignty over its former colonial possessions, including Taiwan and Penghu (Pescadores), but did not specify to whom Taiwan and Penghu should be assigned. This fact and subsequent handling of Taiwan's sovereignty by the Allies of World War II led to the complex and unresolved issues of the legal and political status of Taiwan.
Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II has transformed it into an industrialized developed country and one of the Four Asian Tigers. This economic rise is known as the Taiwan Miracle. It is categorized as an advanced economy by the IMF and as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwanese companies manufacture a large portion of the world's consumer electronics, although most of them are now made in their factories in mainland China.
Prehistory and early settlements
Evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dates back 30,000 years, although the first inhabitants of Taiwan may have been genetically distinct from any groups currently on the island. About 4,000 years ago, ancestors of current Taiwanese aborigines settled in Taiwan. These aborigines are genetically related to Austronesian peoples, with a mitochondrial DNA contribution from a Polynesian maternal ancestor, and linguists classify their languages as Austronesian. It is thought likely that Polynesian ancestry may be traceable throughout Taiwan.
Disputed records from ancient China indicate that the Han Chinese might have known of the existence of the main island of Taiwan since the Three Kingdoms period (third century, A.D. 230), having assigned offshore islands in the vicinity names like Greater Liuqiu and Lesser Liuqiu (etymologically, but perhaps not semantically, identical to Ryūkyū in Japanese), though none of these names has been definitively matched to the main island of Taiwan. Han Chinese began settling in the Penghu islands in the 1200s, but Taiwan's hostile tribes and its lack of the trade resources valued in that era rendered it unattractive to all but "occasional adventurers or fishermen engaging in barter" until the 16th century.
Around 1540, Taiwan's main settlement was the Kingdom of Middag, a kingdom or supra-tribal alliance located in the central western plains; a monarchy of which the capital was Middag. The city still exists today, and is now known as Dadu. The origins of the name Middag are not documented, but based on its etymology may be attributed to an early Dutch settlement of the island (the name Middag still occurs as a family name in the Netherlands).
During the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor of Qing later in that century, the population in the traditional Middag territories rose to oppose heavy labor imposed by the Qing authorities, and was brutally quelled by Qing troops and collaborative tribes in 1732, a year after the initial uprising. After this turmoil came to an end, a supra-tribal leadership apparently ceased to exist in the island's central-western plains. In the aftermath of this, the descendants of Middag either fused into the majority "Chinese" population through intermarriage or migrated to present-day Puli, a basin township surrounded by high mountains in central Taiwan.
In 1544, with the Kingdom of Middag just being founded, a Portuguese ship sighted the main island of Taiwan and named it Ilha Formosa, which means "Beautiful Island".
In 1624, the Dutch established a commercial base on Taiwan and began to import workers from Fujian and Penghu (Pescadores) as laborers, many of whom settled. The Dutch made Taiwan a colony with its colonial capital at Tayoan City (present day Anping, Tainan). Both Tayoan and the island name Taiwan derive from a word in Sirayan, one of the Formosan languages.
The Dutch military presence was concentrated at a stronghold called Castle Zeelandia. The Dutch colonists also started to hunt the native Formosan Sika deer (Cervus nippon taioanus) that inhabited Taiwan, contributing to the eventual extinction of the subspecies on the island. However, the subspecies was kept alive in captivity and subsequent reintroduction of the subspecies into the wild has been successful. Furthermore, this contributed to the subsequent identification of native tribes.
In 1626, the Spanish landed on and occupied northern Taiwan (Keelong and Tanshui) as a base to extend its commercial trading. This colonial period lasted 16 years until 1642.
Kingdom of Tungning
Chinese naval and troop forces of Southern Fujian defeated the Dutch in 1662, subsequently expelling the Dutch government and military from the island. They were led by Koxinga (Zheng Chenggong). Following the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Koxinga retreated to Taiwan as a self-styled Ming loyalist and established the Kingdom of Tungning (1662–1683). Koxinga established his capital at Tainan and he and his heirs, Zheng Jing, who ruled from 1662 to 1682, and Zheng Keshuang, who served less than a year, continued to launch raids on the south-east coast of mainland China well into the Qing Dynasty, attempting to recapture mainland China.
Qing Dynasty rule
In 1683, following the defeat of Koxinga's grandson by an armada led by Admiral Shi Lang of Southern Fujian, the Qing formally annexed Taiwan, placing it under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. The Qing imperial government tried to reduce piracy and vagrancy in the area, issuing a series of edicts to manage immigration and respect aboriginal land rights. Immigrants mostly from Southern Fujian continued to enter Taiwan. The border between taxpaying lands and "savage" lands shifted eastward, with some aborigines 'Sinicizing' while others retreated into the mountains. During this time, there were a number of conflicts between Chinese from different regions of Southern Fujian, and between Southern Fujian Chinese and aborigines.
Northern Taiwan and the Penghu Islands were the scene of an important subsidiary campaign in the Sino-French War (August 1884 to April 1885). The French occupied Keelung from 1 October 1884 to 22 June 1885 and the Penghu Islands from 31 March to 22 July 1885. A French attempt to capture Tamsui was defeated at the Battle of Tamsui (8 October 1884). Several battles were fought around Keelung between October 1884 and March 1885 between Liu Ming-ch'uan's Army of Northern Taiwan and Colonel Jacques Duchesne's Formosa Expeditionary Corps. The Keelung Campaign, despite some notable French tactical victories, ended in a stalemate. The Pescadores Campaign was a French victory, but had no long-term consequences. The French evacuated both Keelung and the Penghu archipelago at the end of the war.
In 1885, the Qing upgraded Taiwan's status from prefecture of Fujian to full province, the twentieth in the empire, with its capital at Taipei. This was accompanied by a modernization drive that included building Taiwan's first railroad and starting a postal service.
Empire of Japan rule
Japan had sought to control Taiwan since 1592, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi began extending Japanese influence overseas. In 1609, the Tokugawa Shogunate sent Arima Harunobu on an exploratory mission. In 1616, Murayama Toan led an unsuccessful invasion of the island.
In 1871, an Okinawan vessel shipwrecked on the southern tip of Taiwan and the crew of fifty-four was beheaded by the Paiwan aborigines. The Ryūkyū Kingdom kept a tributary relationship with Great Qing Empire at the same time was subordinate to Satsuma Domain of Japan. When Japan sought compensation from Qing China, it was first rejected because Qing considered the incident an internal affair since Taiwan was a prefecture of Fujian Province of Qing and the Ryūkyū Kingdom was a tributary of Qing. When Japanese foreign minister Soejima Taneomi asked the compensation again claiming four of the victims were Japanese citizens from Okayama prefecture of Japan, Qing officials rejected the demand on the grounds that the "wild" and "unsubjugated" aboriginals (traditional Chinese: 台灣生番; simplified Chinese: 台湾生番; pinyin: Táiwān shēngfān) were outside its jurisdiction. Such aboriginals were treated extremely harshly; American consul J.W. Davidson described how the Chinese in Taiwan ate and traded in their aboriginal victims' flesh. The open renunciation of sovereignty led to a Japanese invasion of Taiwan. In 1874, an expeditionary force of three thousand troops was sent to the island. There were about thirty Taiwanese and 543 Japanese casualties (twelve in battle and 531 by endemic diseases for the Japanese side).
The Qing Dynasty was defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and Taiwan and Penghu were ceded in full sovereignty to the Empire of Japan. Inhabitants wishing to remain Qing subjects were given a two-year grace period to sell their property and move to mainland China. Very few Taiwanese saw this as feasible.
On 25 May 1895, a group of pro-Qing high officials proclaimed the Republic of Formosa to resist impending Japanese rule. Japanese forces entered the capital at Tainan and quelled this resistance on 21 October 1895.
The Japanese rulers were instrumental in the industrialization of the island; they extended the railroads and other transportation networks, built an extensive sanitation system and revised the public school system. During this period, both rice and sugarcane production greatly increased. By 1939, Taiwan was the seventh greatest sugar producer in the world. Still, the Taiwanese and Aborigines were classified as second- and third-class citizens. Large-scale violence continued in the first decade of rule. Japan launched over 160 battles to destroy Taiwan's aboriginal tribes during its 51-year rule of the island ...' Around 1935, the Japanese began an island-wide assimilation project to bind the island more firmly to the Japanese Empire and people were taught to see themselves as Japanese. During World War II, tens of thousands of Taiwanese served in the Japanese military. For example, former ROC President Lee Teng-hui's elder brother served in the Japanese navy and died while on duty in the Philippines in February 1945.
The Imperial Japanese Navy operated heavily out of Taiwan. The "South Strike Group" was based out of the Taihoku Imperial University in Taiwan. Many of the Japanese forces participating in the Aerial Battle of Taiwan-Okinawa were based in Taiwan. Important Japanese military bases and industrial centers throughout Taiwan, like Kaohsiung, were targets of heavy American bombing.
Taiwan under Empire of Japan rule ended after it lost World War II and signed the Instrument of Surrender of Japan on 14 August 1945. But the Japanese rule had long lasting effects on Taiwan. Education became compulsory for school age children. Significant parts of Taiwanese infrastructure were started under the Japanese rule. The current Presidential Building was also built during that time. In 1938 there were 309,000 Japanese settlers in Taiwan. After World War II, most of the Japanese were repatriated to Japan.
Republic of China rule
Kuomintang Martial Law Era
The Cairo Conference from 22 to 26 November 1943 in Cairo, Egypt was held to address the Allied position against Japan during World War II, and to make decisions about postwar Asia. One of the three main clauses of the Cairo Declaration was that "all the territories Japan has stolen from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China'. However, many challenged that the document was merely a statement of intent for possible reference used for those who would draft the post-war peace treaty and that it was a press release without force of law to transfer sovereignty from Taiwan to the Republic of China. The general counter-argument for this claim is that while the Cairo Declaration itself was a non-binding declaration, it was given legal effect by the Japanese Instrument of Surrender.
On 25 October 1945, the US Navy ferried ROC troops to Taiwan in order to accept the formal surrender of Japanese military forces in Taipei (then called Taihoku). General Rikichi Andō, governor-general of Taiwan and commander-in-chief of all Japanese forces on the island, signed the instrument of surrender and handed it over to General Chen Yi of the ROC military to complete the official turnover. Chen Yi proclaimed that day to be "Retrocession Day of Taiwan," a proclamation which was not recognized by the Allies. The ROC administration of Taiwan under Chen Yi was strained by social and political instabilities, which were compounded by economic woes, such as hyperinflation. Furthermore, cultural and linguistic conflicts between Taiwanese and the mainland Chinese quickly led to the loss of popular support for the new government. This culminated in a series of severe clashes between the ROC occupiers and the Taiwanese, in turn leading to the 228 incident (an estimated 20,000-30,000 civilians were executed by the ROC Army) and the reign of White Terror. During the White Terror, a period of the longest martial law in the world, over 38 years, was imposed and many, many thousands of Taiwanese were arrested, tortured, imprisoned and executed for their real or perceived opposition to the Kuomintang Party. Since these people were mainly from the intellectual and social elite an entire generation of political and social leaders was decimated. It was not until 2008 that a public apology was made for those actions. No form of restitution or compensation has ever been made (as of 2010).
In 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, the ROC government, led by President Chiang Kai-shek, retreated from Nanjing (then romanised as "Nanking") to Taipei, Taiwan's largest city. The ROC continued to claim sovereignty over all "China", which the ROC defines to include mainland China, Taiwan, Outer Mongolia and other areas. The only remaining portions of territory besides Taiwan under ROC control are the Kinmen, Matsu Islands, and two major islands of Dongsha Islands and Nansha Islands. In mainland China, the victorious Communists established the PRC, claiming to be the sole and only China (which they claimed included Taiwan) and the ROC no longer existed. However, since PRC's establishment, it never controlled any of the territories the ROC government currently governs.
Some 2 million people, consisting mainly of soldiers, Kuomintang party (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) members and most importantly the intellectual and business elites, were evacuated from mainland China and arrived in Taiwan around that time. In addition, as part of its escape from Communists in mainland China, the ROC government relocated to Taipei with many national treasures including gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. From this period through the 1980s, Taiwan was governed in a state of Martial Law. Little to no distinction was made between the government and the Nationalist party, with public property, government property, and party property being largely interchangeable. Government workers and party members were mostly indistinguishable, with many government workers required to become KMT members, and party workers paid salaries and promised retirement benefits along the lines of government employees. In addition, the creation of other parties was outlawed, and many political opponents were persecuted and incarcerated.
The ROC remained a de facto one-party state under martial law under the "Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion", from 1948 to 1987, when the ROC Presidents Chiang Ching-kuo and Lee Teng-hui gradually liberalized and democratized the system. With the advent of democratization, the issue of the political status of Taiwan has resurfaced as a controversial issue (previously, discussion of anything other than unification under the ROC was taboo).
As the Chinese Civil War continued without truce, the ROC built up military fortifications throughout Taiwan. Within this effort, former KMT soldiers built the now famous Central Cross-Island Highway through the Taroko Gorge in the 1950s. The two sides would continue to engage in sporadic military clashes with seldom publicized details well into the 1960s on the nearby islands with an unknown number of night raids. During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in September 1958, Taiwan's landscape saw Nike-Hercules missile batteries added, with the formation of the 1st Missile Battalion Chinese Army that would not be deactivated until 1997. Newer generations of missile batteries have since replaced the Nike Hercules systems throughout the island.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Taiwan began to develop into a prosperous, industrialized developed country with a strong and dynamic economy, becoming one of the Four Asian Tigers while maintaining martial law and under the KMT monopoly. Because of the Cold War, most Western nations and the United Nations regarded the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China until the 1970s, when most nations began switching recognition to the PRC (see United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758).
Chiang Kai-shek's eventual successor, his son Chiang Ching-kuo, began to liberalize the ROC's political system in mid-1980s. In 1984, the younger Chiang selected Lee Teng-hui, an ethnically Taiwanese and U.S.-educated technocrat, to be his vice president. In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed and inaugurated as the first opposition party in Taiwan to counter the KMT. A year later Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law.
After the death of Chiang Ching-Kuo in January 1988, Dr. Lee Teng-hui succeed as President and became the first ethnically Taiwanese president of the ROC. Lee continued to democratize the government and decrease the concentration of government authority in the hands of mainland Chinese. Under Lee, Taiwan underwent a process of localization in which Taiwanese culture and history were promoted over a pan-China viewpoint in contrast to earlier KMT policies which had promoted a Chinese identity. Lee's reforms included printing banknotes from the Central Bank rather than the Provincial Bank of Taiwan, and streamlining the Taiwan Provincial Government with most of its functions transferred to the Executive Yuan. Under Lee, the original members of the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly, elected in 1947 to represent mainland Chinese constituencies and having taken the seats without re-election for more than four decades, were forced to resign in 1991. The previously nominal representation in the Legislative Yuan was brought to an end, to reflect the reality that the ROC government had no jurisdiction over mainland China, and vice versa. Restrictions on the use of Taiwanese Hokkien in the broadcast media and in schools were lifted as well. During later years of Lee's administration, he was involved in corruption controversies relating to government release of land and weapons purchase, although no legal proceedings commenced.
In the 1990s, the ROC continued its democratic reforms, as President Lee Teng-hui was elected by the first popular vote held in the ROC during the 1996 Presidential election. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP, was elected as the first non-KMT President and was re-elected to serve his second and last term since 2004. Polarized politics has emerged in Taiwan with the formation of the Pan-Blue Coalition of parties led by the KMT, favoring eventual Chinese reunification, and the Pan-Green Coalition of parties led by the DPP, favoring an eventual and official declaration of Taiwan independence.
On 30 September 2007, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party approved a resolution asserting separate identity from China and called for the enactment of a new constitution for a "normal country". It also called for general use of "Taiwan" as the island's name, without abolishing its formal name, the Republic of China. The Chen administration also pushed for referendums on national defense and UN entry in the 2004 and 2008 elections, which failed due to voter turnout below the required legal threshold of 50% of all registered voters. The Chen administration was dogged by public concerns over reduced economic growth, legislative gridlock due to a pan-blue, opposition controlled Legislative Yuan, and corruption involving the First Family as well as government officials.
The KMT increased its majority in the Legislative Yuan in the January 2008 legislative elections, while its nominee Ma Ying-jeou went on to win the presidency in March of the same year, campaigning on a platform of increased economic growth, and better ties with the PRC under a policy of "mutual nondenial". Ma took office on 20 May 2008. Part of the rationale for campaigning for closer economic ties with the PRC stem from the strong economic growth China attained since joining the World Trade Organization. However, some analysts say that despite the election of Ma Ying-jeou, the diplomatic and military tensions with the PRC have not been reduced.
The cultures of Taiwan are a hybrid blend of various sources, incorporating elements of traditional Chinese culture, attributable to the historical and ancestry origin of the majority of its current residents, Japanese culture, traditional Confucianist beliefs, and increasingly Western values.
After their move to Taiwan, the Kuomintang imposed an official interpretation of traditional Chinese culture over Taiwanese cultures. The government launched a program promoting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, folk art, and Chinese opera.
Since the Taiwan localization movement of the 1990s, Taiwan's cultural identity has enjoyed greater expression. Identity politics, along with the over one hundred years of political separation from mainland China, has led to distinct traditions in many areas, including cuisine and music.
The status of Taiwanese culture is debated. It is disputed whether Taiwanese culture is a regional form of Chinese culture or a distinct culture. Speaking Taiwanese as a symbol of the localization movement has become an emblem of Taiwanese identity.
One of Taiwan's greatest attractions is the National Palace Museum, which houses more than 650,000 pieces of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting and porcelain, and is considered one of the greatest collection of Chinese art and objects in the world. The KMT moved this collection from the Forbidden City in Beijing in 1949 when it fled to Taiwan. The collection, estimated to be one-tenth of China's cultural treasures, is so extensive that only 1% is on display at any time. The PRC had said that the collection was stolen and that it legitimately belongs in China, but Taiwan has long defended its collection as a necessary act to protect the pieces from destruction, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Relations regarding this treasure have warmed recently as each side has agreed to lend relics to the other; Beijing Palace Museum Curator Zheng Xinmiao said that artifacts in both Chinese and Taiwanese museums are "China's cultural heritage jointly owned by people across the Taiwan Strait."
Popular sports in Taiwan include basketball and baseball. Taiwan is also a major Asian country for Korfball. In 2008, Taiwan hosted the World Youth Korfball Championship and took the silver medal. In 2009, Taiwan's korfball team won a bronze medal at the World Game.
International Community Radio Taipei is the most listened to International Radio Media in Taiwan.
Karaoke, drawn from contemporary Japanese culture, is extremely popular in Taiwan, where it is known as KTV. KTV businesses operate in a hotel-like style, renting out small rooms and ballrooms varying on the number of guests in a group. Many KTV establishments partner with restaurants and buffets to form all-encompassing elaborate evening affairs for families, friends, or businessmen. Tour buses that travel around Taiwan have several TV's, equipped not for watching movies, but primarily for singing Karaoke. The entertainment counterpart of a KTV is an MTV, being found much less frequently out of the city. There, movies out on DVD can be selected and played in a private theater room. However MTV, more so than KTV, has a growing reputation for being a place that young couples will go to be alone and intimate.
Taiwan has a high density of 24-hour convenience stores, which, in addition to the usual services, provide services on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies such as collection of parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments. They also provide a service for mailing packages.
Taiwanese culture has also influenced other cultures. Bubble tea and milk tea are available in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Europe and North America. Taiwan television shows are popular in Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries. Taiwanese films have won various international awards at film festivals around the world. Ang Lee, a Taiwanese director, has directed critically acclaimed films such as: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Eat Drink Man Woman; Sense and Sensibility; Brokeback Mountain; and Lust, Caution. Other famous Taiwanese directors include Tsai Ming-Liang, Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien.
Taiwan has several major public universities, including: National Taiwan University, National Chiao Tung University, National Taiwan Normal University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chengchi University, National Cheng Kung University, National Yang Ming University, National Taipei University, National Central University, National Sun Yat-sen University, National Chung Cheng University, National Chung Hsing University, Taipei National University of the Arts, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Taipei University of Technology, and National Kaohsiung Normal University.
The more notable private universities in Taiwan include: Soo Chow University, Fu Jen Catholic University, Chang Gung University, Tamkang University, Tunghai University, Yuan Ze University, Tzu Chi University, Ming Chuan University, Chinese Culture University, and Shih Hsin University.
Baseball is Taiwan's national sport and it is a popular spectator sport. One of the most famous Taiwanese baseball pitchers is Chien-Ming Wang, who is a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. Other notable players playing in the United States include Chin-hui Tsao who played for the Colorado Rockies (2003–2005) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2007), Hong-Chih Kuo, Fu-Te Ni, and Chin-lung Hu. The Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan was established in 1989, and eventually absorbed the competing Taiwan Major League in 2003. As of 2008, the CPBL has four teams with average attendance of approximately 3,000 per game.
Besides baseball, taekwondo has become a rather mature and successful sport in recent years. In the 2004 Olympics, Mu Yen Chu and Shih Hsin Chen proudly won the first two gold medals in men's flyweight event and women's flyweight event, respectively. Ever since the 2004 Olympics, Taiwan's taekwondo potential has become extremely prominent. Subsequent taekwondo competitors such as Shu Chun Yang successfully consolidated Taiwan's taekwondo culture.
In 2009, Taiwan hosted two international sporting events on the island. The World Games 2009 were held in Kaohsiung City between 16 July and 26 July 2009. Taipei City hosted the 21st Summer Deaflympics in September of the same year.
The island of Taiwan lies some 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of China, across the Taiwan Strait, and has an area of 35,881 km (13,853.7 sq mi). If included the Penghu Islands which is now a nominal county under the Taiwan Province, administered by the Executive Yuan, Taiwan's area is 36,008 km (13,902.8 sq mi). The East China Sea lies to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest. The island is characterized by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds, consisting mostly of rugged mountains running in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling Chianan Plains in the west that are also home to most of Taiwan's population. Taiwan's highest point is Yu Shan at 3,952 meters, and there are five other peaks over 3,500 meters. This makes it the world's fourth-highest island. Taroko National Park, located on the mountainous eastern side of the island, has good examples of mountainous terrain, gorges and erosion caused by a swiftly flowing river.
The shape of the main island of Taiwan is similar to a sweet potato seen in a south-to-north direction, and therefore, Taiwanese, especially the Min-nan division, often call themselves "children of the Sweet Potato." There are also other interpretations of the island shape, one of which is a whale in the ocean (the Pacific Ocean) if viewed in a west-to-east direction, which is a common orientation in ancient maps, plotted either by Western explorers or the Great Qing.
The island of Taiwan lies in a complex tectonic area between the Yangtze Plate to the west and north, the Okinawa Plate on the north-east, and the Philippine Mobile Belt on the east and south. The upper part of the crust on the island is primarily made up of a series of terranes, mostly old island arcs which have been forced together by the collision of the forerunners of the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate. These have been further uplifted as a result of the detachment of a portion of the Eurasian Plate as it was subducted beneath remnants of the Philippine Sea Plate, a process which left the crust under Taiwan more buoyant.
The east and south of Taiwan are a complex system of belts formed by, and part of the zone of, active collision between the North Luzon Trough portion of the Luzon Volcanic Arc and South China, where accreted portions of the Luzon Arc and Luzon forearc form the eastern Coastal Range and parallel inland Longitudinal Valley of Taiwan respectively.
The major seismic faults in Taiwan correspond to the various suture zones between the various terranes. These have produced major quakes throughout the history of the island. On 21 September 1999, a 7.3 quake known as the "921 earthquake" occurred. The seismic hazard map for Taiwan by the USGS shows 9/10 of the island as the highest rating (most hazardous).
On 4 March 2010 at about 01:20 UTC, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit southern Taiwan.
Taiwan lies on the Tropic of Cancer. Its southern tip lies about 10 miles further north than Oahu, Hawaii and roughly 25 miles further north than Cancun, Mexico. Its climate is marine tropical. The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March during the northeast monsoon, and experiences meiyu in May. The entire island experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. The middle and southern parts of the island do not have an extended monsoon season during the winter months. Natural hazards such as typhoons and earthquakes are common in the region.
Taiwan is a center of bird endemism; see Endemic birds of Taiwan for further information.
Environment and pollution
With its high population density and many factories, some areas in Taiwan suffer from heavy pollution. Most notable are the southern suburbs of Taipei and the western stretch from Tainan to Lin Yuan, south of Kaohsiung. In the past, Taipei suffered from extensive vehicle and factory air pollution, but with mandatory use of unleaded petrol and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality of Taiwan has improved dramatically. Motor scooters, especially older or cheaper two-stroke versions, which are ubiquitous in Taiwan, also contribute disproportionately to urban air pollution.
Because of the intensive exploitation throughout Taiwan's pre-modern and modern history, the island's mineral resources (e.g. coal, gold, marble), as well as wild animal reserves (e.g. deer), have been virtually exhausted. Moreover, much of its forestry resources, especially firs were harvested during Japanese rule for the construction of shrines and have only recovered slightly since then. To this day, forests do not contribute to significant timber production mainly because of concerns about production costs and environmental regulations.
Camphor extraction and sugarcane refining played an important role in Taiwan's exportation from the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century. The importance of the above industries subsequently declined not because of the exhaustion of related natural resources but mainly of the decline of international market demands.
Nowadays, few natural resources with significant economic value are retained in Taiwan, which are essentially agriculture-associated. Domestic agriculture (rice being the dominant kind of crop) and fisheries retain importance to a certain degree, but they have been greatly challenged by foreign imports since Taiwan's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Consequently, upon the decline of subsistent importance, Taiwan's agriculture now relies heavily on the marketing and exportation of certain kinds of specialty fruits, such as banana, guava, lychee, wax apple, and high-mountain tea.
Taiwan has significant coal deposits and some insignificant petroleum and natural gas deposits. As of 2010, oil accounts for 49.0% of the total energy consumption. Coal comes next with 32.1%, followed by nuclear energy with 8.3%, natural gas (indigenous and liquefied) with 10.2%, and energy from renewable sources with 0.5%. Taiwan has 6 reactors and two under construction. Nearly all oil and gas for transportation and power needs must be imported, making Taiwan particularly sensitive to fluctuations in energy prices. Taiwan is rich in wind energy resources, with wind farms both onshore and offshore, though limited land area favors offshore wind resources. By promoting renewable energy, Taiwan's government hopes to also aid the nascent renewable energy manufacturing industry, and develop it into an export market.
Taiwan lies on the Tropic of Cancer, and its climate is marine tropical. The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March during the northeast monsoon, and experiences meiyu in May. The entire island experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. The middle and southern parts of the island do not have an extended monsoon season during the winter months. Typhoons are common between July and October.
The Penghu Islands, 50 km (31.1 mi) west of the main island, have an area of 126.9 km2 (49.0 sq mi). More distant islands controlled by the Republic of China are the Kinmen, Wuchiu and Matsu Islands off the coast of Fujian, with a total area of 180.5 km2 (69.7 sq mi), and the Pratas Islands and Taiping Island in the South China Sea, with a total area of 2.9 km2 (1.1 sq mi) and no permanent inhabitants.