Taiwan consists of a large and a few smaller
islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Chinese
mainland. In practice, Taiwan functions as an
independent state even if it is recognized only by a few
other countries. Since Chinese nationalists seized power
in 1949, after losing the civil war against the
Communists, China claims Taiwan as one of its provinces.
Until 1971, it was Taiwan that held China's place in the
UN, including the Security Council, but since then the
island has been diplomatically isolated. Taiwan has done
pretty well anyway. It has a well-developed economy and
is a leading manufacturer of high-tech goods.
Brief profiles of Taiwan, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
The island of Taiwan or Formosa is located in
the middle of the Cancer Circle in the Pacific Ocean
east of the Chinese mainland. Taiwan (officially called
the Republic of China) has in practice served as an
independent state since 1949 but is only recognized as
one by a few countries in the world (see Foreign Policy
and Defense). Taiwan consists of a main island of the
same name, the smaller island groups Penghu (Pescadores),
Kinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu as well as various small
islands. On the surface, Taiwan is much like Jämtland.
The main island is separated from the People's
Republic of China by the Taiwan Strait, which at its
narrowest point is 13 km wide. However, some of the
islands are very close to the mainland - the distance
from Kinmen is just over two kilometers.
Taiwan consists largely of mountains, the eastern
two-thirds being occupied by mountain ranges running in
a north-south direction. More than 200 mountain peaks
extend more than 3,000 meters above sea level. In the
west, the country slopes gradually in plateaus towards
the strait, hence the name Taiwan which means "terrace
bay" in Chinese. Here the soil is fertile and
intensively cultivated, and here most of the population
More than half of the area is wooded. Both
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions haunt the island,
mainly the east coast.
Taiwan is surrounded by warm ocean currents and has a
subtropical climate that, in the far south, turns into
tropical. The northeastern winter monsoon (October –
March) carries heavy rain to the north and east of the
The summer monsoon from the southwest gives the
southern part calmer rain from May to September. Taiwan
is in the path of the devastating cyclones, those in
East Asia called typhoons.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
35,981 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 7 hours
Capital with number of residents
Taipei 2,700,000 (2013 estimate)
Other major cities
New Taipei City 3.9 million, Kaohsiung 2.7 million,
Taichung 2.7 million, Tainan 1.8 (2013 estimate)
Yu Shan (Mount Morrison, 3952 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Taipei 300 mm (June), 80 mm (Novermber)
Average / day
29 °C (July), 15 °C (Feb)
The Gambia ends diplomatic contact
The Gambia terminates diplomatic relations with Taiwan after 18 years. As a
result, only three African countries have diplomatic contacts with Taiwan, which
is recognized in total by 22 countries in the world. Beijing claims that there
was no finger in the game and that the decision was made by Gambia President
Law changes after the death of conscripts
The vigorous protests and criticism of the military after a conscript died
after military punishments (see July) lead to legislative
changes. Military courts and prisons are closed and the military is no longer
allowed to pursue legal proceedings against their own personnel in peacetime.
Sanctions against the Philippines are lifted
Taiwan cancels sanctions imposed on the Philippines in May after the death of
a Taiwanese fisherman (see under May). The Philippines has then
made an official apology and the fisherman's family has received financial
compensation. The sanctions stopped, among other things, Filipino workers from
obtaining work permits in Taiwan and also affected Taiwanese tourism in the
Another defense minister resigns
The new Secretary of Defense, Andrew Yang, is leaving only a few days after
taking office. He is accused of plagiarizing a text in an article he has
MEPs in handgun
Crowds arise in Parliament when the Nationalist Party and the opposition come
together for a vote on whether to hold a referendum on the construction of a
fourth nuclear power plant in the country. The MPs box and hold water over each
other before being dispelled by guards.
The Minister of Defense resigns after death
Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu resigns after it became known that a young
conscriber had died after being forced to perform strenuous exercises in the
blazing sun as a punishment. The incident triggers large demonstrations in the
capital, and prosecution is brought against 18 officers for involvement in the
Chinese dissident visiting
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng makes an 18-day visit to Taiwan, where he
meets with opposition and discusses the human rights situation in China.
Guangcheng's trip is irritating in Beijing.
Conflict with the Philippines
The Taiwan government is vigorously protesting and demanding an apology since
the Philippine Coast Guard killed a Taiwanese fisherman. The man sailed in sea
areas in the South China Sea, which both Taiwan and the Philippines consider
themselves entitled to. A few days later, the Philippines sends out a statement
apologizing for the incident which is reported to be an accident. The Taiwan
government does not accept the wording because it is believed that the many
bullet holes in the fishing boat indicate otherwise. The Taiwanese government
reiterates the demand for a formal apology, for compensation to the fisherman's
family and for an official investigation into the shooting. Taiwan also takes
its representative to the Philippines and sends the Philippine representative to
Taipei. In addition, Taiwan is holding a military exercise at sea in a march
against the Philippines.
Controversial fishing permit
Japan and Taiwan agree that Taiwanese fishermen will be allowed to fish near
the disputed archipelago Senkaku / Diaoyu (which both China and Taiwan and Japan
claim). The agreement, which comes after close to two decades of negotiations,
is met with outrage in Beijing.
Investment agreement with China
Agreement is reached on investment in the financial sector between Taipei and
Beijing. It will be easier for companies from China to invest in the financial
sector in Taiwan and Chinese banks will be allowed to buy larger items in local
Taiwanese banks. At the same time, Taiwanese banks should more easily have the
opportunity to start a second branch in Chinese cities.
New Prime Minister
In February 2013, Sean Chen resigns as Prime Minister and is succeeded by
Conscription is abolished
Taiwan initiates a transition from a military-based system to a professional
army. Men born after 1994 no longer have to do military service.
Taiwanese activists are chased away
A boat with Taiwanese activists planning to deploy a statue of a Taiwanese
sea goddess on an island in the Senkaku archipelago (called Diaoytai in Taiwan
and Diaoyu in China) is forced off by the Japanese coastal defense. The
archipelago is controlled by Japan with both China and Taiwan claiming it (see
China: Foreign Policy and Defense).