Taiwan on the world map. Map of Taiwan
Map of Taiwan with cities. Where Taiwan is on the world map. The main geographical facts about Taiwan - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture.
Fact File Taiwan
Official name Republic of China
Form of government Republic with two legislative bodies (National Assembly and Legislative Yuan)
Capital T'ai-pei (Taipei)
Area 35,980 sq km (1 3,892 sq miles)
Time zone GMT +8 hours
Projected population 2015 24,945,000
Population density 626.7 per sq km (1,623.1 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 76.7
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 6.8
Official language Mandarin Chinese
Other languages Taiwanese, Min, Hakka, Malayo-Polynesian languages
Literacy rate 94 %
Religions Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist 93%; Christian 5%; other 2%
Ethnic groups Taiwanese 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Currency New Taiwain dollar
Economy Services 49%, industry 30%, agriculture 21 %
GNP per capita US$ 17,200
Climate Tropical, with wet season May to September Highest point Yu Shan 3,997 m (13,113 ft) Map reference Page 206
Taiwan is a large island off the coast of China which, with support from the USA, has acted as a de facto independent country for the past 50 years. This is strongly opposed by China, which from the seventeenth century controlled the island and made it a Chinese province in the 1880s. However, Beijing has not had effective control of Taiwan for 100 years. It was ceded to Japan in 1895 (after Japanese victory in the Sino-Japanese War). From 1949 until the present it has been under the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT),
who after being driven from mainland China by the communists in 1949 used Taiwan as their last refuge. Ruling dictatorially over the Taiwanese until 1987, the KMT turned the country into a political, military, and economic fortress.
Seated in the UN as the official representative of China for two decades, Taiwan was displaced in 1971, and still has a marginal status in the international community. Today, after democratic elections, multiple parties are represented in the National Assembly, and both the president and the prime minister are native-born Taiwanese.
High mountains extending the length of the island occupy the central and eastern parts of Taiwan. The mountains of the Central Range, or Taiwan Shan, are the top of a submerged mountain chain, and rise steeply up from the east coast. Lush vegetation is found through much of the interior—the poor commercial quality of most of the timber has preserved it as forest cover. Rising to altitudes of more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft), the lower slopes support evergreens such as camphor and Chinese cork oak, while further up pine, larch, and cedar dominate. Rice is grown on the well-watered lowlands of the western coastal plain. Other crops include sugarcane, sweet potatoes, tea, bananas, pineapples, and peanuts.
Economically, agriculture is now of less importance than Taiwan's thriving industrial sector. The country as a whole demonstrated an almost unprecedented growth rate of 9 percent annually for three decades until 1996. During this period it was successively the world's biggest producer of television sets, watches, personal computers, and track shoes. Among Taiwan's strengths are its highly educated workforce, many US-trained, with an inside knowledge of the US market. Today the leading exports are electrical machinery, electronic products, textiles, footwear, foodstuffs, and plywood and wood products. With huge dollar reserves, Taiwan has become a major investor in China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The Asian economic downturn in 1998 has had a steadying effect, but Taiwan is better situated than most to weather the storm. Political relations with China remain cool.