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Taiwan Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Taipei (pop. 2.6 million)

Other Cities: Kaohsiung (pop. 1.5 million).

Local Time: UTC +8h

Location: Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China.
Area: 35,967 sq. km. (13,887 sq. mi.).
Terrain: Largely mountainous.

Climate: Maritime subtropical.

Type: Multi-party democracy.
Constitution: December 25, 1946; last amended 2000.

Population (June 2003): 22.6 million.
Taiwan is the second most densely populated area in the world.
Languages: Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese, official), Southern Fujianese (Taiwanese), Hakka (spoken by the Hakka minority group). Literacy: 96.13 %.


Currency: New Taiwan Dollar (TWD)

Natural resources: Small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos.

Agriculture products:
Rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk, fish.

Industries: Electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing.

Exports partners:
China 19.5%, Hong Kong 17.1%, USA 16.1%, Japan 7.5%, Singapore 3.6%, South Korea 3.0% (2004)

Imports partners: Japan 25.9%, USA 12.8%, China 9.9%, South Korea 6.9%, Germany 3.4%, Saudi Arabia 3.3% (2004) (Source: ROC Bureau of Foreign Trade -- Trade Statistics)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Taiwan

Office of the President, Republic of China

Taiwan e-Government

Taiwan e-Government

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Government Information Office

Information Division

Political Map of Taiwan

Map of Asia



Background:  In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan
to Japan, however it reverted to Chinese control after World War
II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million
Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1947
constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades,
the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the
native population within its governing structure. This culminated in
2000, when Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from
the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this
period, the island has prospered to become one of East Asia's economic
"Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship
between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of eventual
unification - as well as domestic political and economic reform.

Geography Taiwan

Location:  Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine
Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines,
off the southeastern coast of China

Geographic coordinates:  23 30 N, 121 00 E

Map references:  Southeast Asia

Area:  total: 35,980 sq km note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and
Quemoy water: 3,720 sq km land: 32,260 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined

Land boundaries:  0 km

Coastline:  1,566.3 km

Maritime claims:  exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June
to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year

Terrain:  eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently
rolling plains in west

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: South China Sea 0 m highest point:
Yu Shan 3,997 m

Natural resources:  small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone,
marble, and asbestos

Land use:  arable land: 24% permanent crops: 1% other: 75%

Irrigated land:  NA sq km

Natural hazards:  earthquakes and typhoons

Environment - current issues:  air pollution; water pollution from
industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water
supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste

Environment - international agreements:  party to: none of the
selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status signed,
but not ratified: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan's
international status

Geography - note:  strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait
and the Luzon Strait

People Taiwan

Population:  22,548,009 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 21% (male 2,464,290; female 2,268,627) 15-64
years: 70% (male 8,010,014; female 7,774,296) 65 years and over: 9%
(male 1,053,975; female 976,807) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  0.78% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  14.21 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  6.08 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.09
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
1.08 male(s)/female total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   79.71 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  1.76 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: Chinese (singular and plural) adjective: Chinese

Ethnic groups:  Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%,
aborigine 2%

Religions:  mixture of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist 93%, Christian
4.5%, other 2.5%

Languages:  Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 86%
 79% (1980 est.)  note:  (1998 est.)

Government Taiwan

Country name:  conventional long form: none conventional short form:
Taiwan local short form: T'ai-wan local long form: none former: Formosa

Government type:  multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly
elected president and unicameral legislature

Capital:  Taipei

Administrative divisions:  the central administrative divisions include
the provinces of Fu-chien (some 20 offshore islands of Fujian Province
including Quemoy and Matsu) and Taiwan (the island of Taiwan and the
Pescadores islands); Taiwan is further subdivided into 16 counties
(hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities* (shih, singular and
plural), and 2 special municipalities** (chuan-shih, singular and
plural); Chang-hua, Chia-i, Chia-i*, Chi-lung*, Hsin-chu, Hsin-chu*,
Hua-lien, I-lan, Kao-hsiung, Kao-hsiung**, Miao-li, Nan-t'ou, P'eng-hu,
P'ing-tung, T'ai-chung, T'ai-chung*, T'ai-nan, T'ai-nan*, T'ai-pei,
T'ai-pei**, T'ai-tung, T'ao-yuan, and Yun-lin; the provincial capital
is at Chung-hsing-hsin-ts'un note: Taiwan uses the Wade-Giles system
for romanization

National holiday:  Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution),
10 October (1911)

Constitution:  1 January 1947, amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1999

Legal system:  based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ
jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage:  20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Shui-bian CHEN (since 20 May
2000) and Vice President Annette Hsiu-lien LU (since 20 May 2000) election
results:  (DPP) 39.3%, James SOONG (independent) 36.84%, LIEN Chan (KMT)
23.1%, HSU Hsin-liang (independent) 0.63%, LEE Ao (CNP) 0.13% elections:
for four-year terms; election last held 18 March 2000 (next to be held NA
March 2004); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed
by the president on the recommendation of the premier head of government:
2002) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) Hsin-yi LIN
(since 1 February 2002) cabinet: Executive Yuan appointed by the president

Legislative branch:  unicameral Legislative Yuan (225 seats - 168
elected by popular vote, 41 elected on the basis of the proportion
of islandwide votes received by participating political parties,
eight elected from overseas Chinese constituencies on the basis of
the proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political
parties, eight elected by popular vote among the aboriginal populations;
members serve three-year terms) and unicameral National Assembly (300
seat nonstanding body; delegates nominated by parties and elected by
proportional representation within three months of a Legislative Yuan
call to amend the Constitution, impeach the president, or change national
borders) elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 8 December 2001 (next to
be held NA December 2004); note - the National Assembly is a nonstanding
body and is called into session election results: Legislative Yuan -
percent of vote by party - DPP 39%, KMT 30%, PFP 20%, TSU 6%, independents
and other parties 5%; seats by party - DPP 87, KMT 68, PFP 46, TSU 13,
independents and other parties 11

Judicial branch:  Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president
with consent of the National Assembly; note - beginning in 2003, justices
will be appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)

Political parties and leaders:  Democratic Progressive Party or DPP
[Frank Chang-ting HSIEH, chairman]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party)
[LIEN Chan, chairman]; People First Party or PFP [James Chu-yu SOONG,
chairman]; Taiwan Solidarity Union or TSU [Chu-wen HUANG, chairman];
other minor parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:  Taiwan independence movement,
various business and environmental groups note: debate on Taiwan
independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic
politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased
representation of opposition parties in Taiwan's legislature have opened
public debate on the island's national identity; a broad popular consensus
has developed that Taiwan currently enjoys de facto independence and -
whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence -
that Taiwan's people must have the deciding voice; advocates of Taiwan
independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify
with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include
establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN; other
organizations supporting Taiwan independence include the World United
Formosans for Independence and the Organization for Taiwan Nation Building

International organization participation:  APEC, AsDB, BCIE, ICC, ICFTU,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  none; unofficial commercial and
cultural relations with the people of the US are maintained through
an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural
Representative Office (TECRO) in the US with headquarters in Taipei and
field offices in Washington and 12 other US cities

Diplomatic representation from the US:  none; unofficial commercial and
cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an
unofficial instrumentality - the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)
- which has offices in the US and Taiwan; US office located at 1700
N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1]
(703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices located at #7
Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2)
2709-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2702-7675; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor,
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 224-0154 through 0157, FAX: [886]
(7) 223-8237; and the American Trade Center, Room 3208 International Trade
Building, Taipei World Trade Center, 333 Keelung Road Section 1, Taipei,
Taiwan 10548, telephone: Flag description:  red with a dark blue rectangle
in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays

Economy Taiwan

Economy - overview:  Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy
with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign
trade by government authorities. In keeping with this trend,
some large government-owned banks and industrial firms are being
privatized. Real growth in GDP has averaged about 8% during the
past three decades. Exports have provided the primary impetus for
industrialization. The trade surplus is substantial, and foreign
reserves are the world's third largest. Agriculture contributes 2%
to GDP, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive industries
are steadily being moved offshore and replaced with more capital- and
technology-intensive industries.  Taiwan has become a major investor in
China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam; 50,000
Taiwanese businesses are established in China. Because of its conservative
financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, Taiwan suffered
little compared with many of its neighbors from the Asian financial
crisis in 1998-99. The global economic downturn, however, combined
with poor policy coordination by the new administration and increasing
bad debts in the banking system, pushed Taiwan into recession in 2001,
the first whole year of negative growth since 1947.  Unemployment also
reached a level not seen since the 1970s oil crisis.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $386 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  -2.2% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $17,200 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 2% industry: 32% services: 66%
(2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:  1% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  32.6 (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  0.5% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  9.8 million (2001 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 56%, industry 36%, agriculture 8%
(2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:  4.5% (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $36 billion expenditures: $36.1 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)

Industries:  electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles,
iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing

Industrial production growth rate:  -5% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  149.78 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 69.48% hydro: 5.82%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 24.7%

Electricity - consumption:  139.295 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs,
poultry, beef, milk; fish

Exports:  $122 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  machinery and electrical equipment 55%, metals,
textiles, plastics, chemicals

Exports - partners:  US 23.5%, Hong Kong 21.1%, Europe 16%, ASEAN 12.2%,
Japan 11.2% (2000)

Imports:  $109 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and electrical equipment 50%, minerals,
precision instruments

Imports - partners:  Japan 27.5%, US 17.9%, Europe 13.6%, South Korea 6.4%

Debt - external:  $40 billion (2000)

Currency:  new Taiwan dollar (TWD)

Currency code:  TWD

Exchange rates:  new Taiwan dollars per US dollar - 34.494 (yearend
2001), 33.082 (yearend 2000), 31.395 (yearend 1999), 32.216 (1998),
32.052 (1997), 27.5 (1996)

Fiscal year:  1 July - 30 June (up to FY98/99); 1 July 1999 - 31 December
2000 for FY00; calendar year (after FY00)

Communications Taiwan

Telephones - main lines in use:  12.49 million (September 2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  16 million (September 2000)

Telephone system:  general assessment: provides telecommunications
service for every business and private need domestic: thoroughly modern;
completely digitalized international: satellite earth stations - 2
Intelsat (1 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean); submarine cables to Japan
(Okinawa), Philippines, Guam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia,
Middle East, and Western Europe (1999)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 218, FM 333, shortwave 50 (1999)

Radios:  16 million (1994)

Television broadcast stations:  29 (plus two repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  8.8 million (1998)

Internet country code:  .tw

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  8 (2000)

Internet users:  11.6 million (2001)

Transportation Taiwan

Railways:  total: 1,108 km narrow gauge: 1,108 km 1.067-m gauge (519
km electrified) note: in addition to the above routes in common carrier
service, there are several thousand kilometers of 1.067-m gauge routes
that are dedicated to industrial use (2001)

Highways:  total: 34,901 km paved: 31,271 km (including 538 km of
expressways) unpaved: 3,630 km (1998 est.)

Waterways:  NA

Pipelines:  petroleum products 3,400 km; natural gas 1,800 km (1999)

Ports and harbors:  Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao,

Merchant marine:  total: 152 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,262,451
GRT/6,596,950 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here
as a flag of convenience: Hong Kong 3, Japan 1 (2002 est.)  ships by type:
bulk 40, cargo 28, combination bulk 3, container 53, petroleum tanker 17,
refrigerated cargo 9, roll on/roll off 2

Airports:  39 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 36 over 3,047 m: 8 2,438 to 3,047
m: 9 914 to 1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 3 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 8

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 3 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 under
914 m: 2 (2001)

Heliports:  3 (2001)

Military Taiwan

Military branches:  Army, Navy (including Marine Corps), Air Force,
Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined
Service Forces Command

Military manpower - military age:  19 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 6,575,625 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 5,018,882
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 198,766
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $8,041,200,000 (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  2.8% (FY01)

Transnational Issues Taiwan

Disputes - international:  involved in complex dispute over the Spratly
Islands with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei;
Paracel Islands occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam;
claims Japanese-administered Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands/Diaoyu Tai),
as does China

Illicit drugs:  regional transit point for heroin and methamphetamine;
major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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