Taiwan – Republic of China

The “Republic of China” was founded in 1950 on the island of Taiwan. It is not recognized as a sovereign state by many countries, including Germany. The People’s Republic of China regards the island of Taiwan (Formosa) and the islands belonging to it as part of its territory.

The island of Taiwan is separated from mainland China by the Formosa Strait. The country is very mountainous with numerous peaks over three thousand meters high. Only a quarter of the country is lowland. Taiwan experienced a tremendous economic boom by the late 1980’s. It is one of the emerging countries in Asia that is developing successfully from an agricultural to an industrial state. Today it is one of the most important trading posts in the world. The standard of living in Taiwan is one of the highest in Asia.


Short for TW on ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, Taiwan lies on the Pacific on both sides of the northern tropic between the South and East China Seas. The state is only a little bigger than Belgium. Its capital is Taipei.

Surface shape

The island of Taiwan is divided into two major landscapes: About a quarter of the country is lowland, which characterizes the western part of the country along the coast. This coastal plain is only between 8 and 40 km wide. Only in the southwest do mountain foothills reach the South China Sea. A forested high mountain range of volcanic origin occupies the center and the east of the island. 200 to 300 earthquakes, which are measured annually, testify to the ongoing tectonic processes. However, only a small part of it is noticeable. The high mountain range reaches a height of almost 4000 m and has 62 peaks that are over 3000 m high. The mountain range slopes down in terraces to the west to the coastal plain.

Climate and vegetation

Taiwan lies in the transition area between extra-tropical and tropical monsoon climates with hot summers. Most of the precipitation also falls in summer (Fig. 3).

Often in late summer between July and November, as in other Asian countries, tropical cyclones, typhoons, occur, which mainly devastate the coasts.

Around two thirds of Taiwan are covered by forests that have a significant increase in altitude. In the lower areas, tropical bamboo, palm and acacia forests predominate, in the higher areas up to about 2600 m summer green mixed forests and finally coniferous forests above. There are extensive mangroves on Taiwan’s flat coasts. Its network of high stilt roots serves as a silt catcher and is the typical vegetation in the tidal area of ​​flat subtropical and tropical coasts.

Important data about the country

Surface: 36,000 km²
Residents: 22.7 million
Population density: 631 residents / km²
Growth of population: 0.7% / year
Life expectancy: 76 years
State capital: Taipei
Form of government: republic
Languages: Chinese, Goashan
Religions: Buddhists 40%, Confucians or Daoists 48%, Christians 5%
Climate: subtropical to tropical monsoon climate
Land use: Arable land 25%, forest 55%
Economic sectors:
(share of GDP)
Agriculture 2%, industry 31%, services 67%
Export goods: Vehicles, machines, hardware, consumer electronics, wood, fish
Gross domestic product: 316 US $ 700 million (2003)
Gross National Product: US $ 11,710 / residents (2003)


Taiwan made the transition from an agricultural to an industrialized state in the 1950’s and experienced a tremendous economic boom until the late 1980’s. Today the country is one of the economically strongest emerging economies in Asia and one of the most important trading nations in the world. This successful development is mainly due to high foreign investments, especially from the USA. Even the Asian crisis at the end of the 1990’s, unlike other emerging countries in Asia, had little effect on the country’s economy.

Taiwan is poor in natural resources. The industry is therefore dependent on imported raw materials. The leading branches of the manufacturing industry are traditionally the food, textile and clothing industries as well as the metal processing industry. Since the 1970’s, the chemical and petrochemical industries as well as vehicle construction have experienced a significant boom.

The government has been promoting the expansion of the computer industry since the 1980’s. Especially as a producer of hardware and entertainment electronics, Taiwan has become world-renowned.

The US and Japan are Taiwan’s main trading partners. As an intermediary for trade with the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong was of great importance until 1997. Since its return to China, direct economic contacts between China and Taiwan have been severely hampered by political conflicts.

Republic of China


1590: Portuguese sailors discover the island and call it Formosa (Portuguese “beautiful island”).

16./17. Century: Spaniards, Dutch and Portuguese establish
trading establishments, but are driven out by Chinese settlers. Taiwan eventually becomes part of the Chinese Empire.

1894/95: Taiwan becomes a Japanese colony after the 1st Sino-Japanese War.

1945/51: After the second. World War II, the victorious allied powers over Japan Taiwan again to China. This happens without asking the island population.

1949: The Republican Chinese government flees to the island of Taiwan from the victorious communist troops after its defeat in the Chinese Civil War.

1.3.1950: Proclamation of the “Republic of China” (National China). Political and military tensions with the
People’s Republic of China have persisted ever since.

To this day, Taiwan maintains its claim to sole representation for the whole of China. Taiwan’s government therefore does not recognize the People’s Republic of China. Conversely, since then the government of the People’s Republic of China has repeatedly threatened reunification through armed violence.