Taiwan - education
Illiteracy is in the second half of 1900-t. reduced from approximately 42% (1952)
to approximately 5% (1997). The teaching is characterized by both Chinese and Western
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The preschools for 4-6-year-olds are most often private and are followed by
approximately 40% (1996). Since 1968, the nine-year compulsory schooling for
6-15-year-olds can be fulfilled in the free, public six-year primary school,
followed by a three-year middle school. Almost all children go to school, and
approximately 90% continue in either three-year general or vocational upper secondary
education or in five-year junior colleges, which are a combination of upper
secondary education and higher education.
Higher education, characterized by rapid growth and internationalization,
includes more than 140 universities or colleges. The oldest of the universities
is the private Soochow University in Taipei from 1900. The
largest is the national open university with 39,000 students (1998).
ETYMOLOGY: The name Taiwan comes from Chinese tai 'terrace' and wān 'bay'; formerly
called Formosa after Portuguese Ilha Formosa 'the beautiful island'.
OFFICIAL NAME: Taiwan
CAPITAL CITY: Taipei
POPULATION: 23,200,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 36,182 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): mandarin and other Chinese languages (Taiwanese, hakka) as well as
RELIGION: mix of Buddhists, Confucians and Daoists 93%, Christians 5%, others 2%
COIN: taiwan dollar
CURRENCY CODE: TWD
ENGLISH NAME: Taiwan
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Chinese 98% (of which 15% immigrated after 1949), indigenous people 2%
GDP PER residents: $ 21,592 (2011)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 73 years, women 79 years (2005)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.868
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: -
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .tw
Taiwan, island east of China with unresolved international law status. From
China's point of view, Taiwan is a province of China that is only temporarily
acting with some independence, and to emphasize this point, China is not
cooperating with countries that recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. In
practice, however, Taiwan functions as an independent republic with political,
cultural and economic cooperation with a large number of countries, including
not least China.
Following the Communist takeover of China in 1949, the Nationalist government
led by Chiang Kai-shek established its headquarters and administration in
Taiwan. Over the course of 30 years, Taiwan transformed from a semi-feudal
agricultural land into a modern capitalist high-growth economy. Taiwan's
export-oriented industrialization was borne out by a combination of many small
and medium-sized enterprises, a significant government sector, and strong
government control. Taiwan's industrialization was also marked by hard work, by
"growth with inequality" and by environmental destruction. Until the late 1980's,
Taiwan was an authoritarian, growth-oriented regime, a development
dictatorship. Taiwan is in the early 2000-t. the world's fourteenth largest
trading nation and has the world's third largest foreign exchange reserves.
Taiwan - language
Official language is Mandarin, in Taiwan called guoyu 'national language '; it
is spoken as a mother tongue by approximately 4.3 million (1993) and is written as in
mainland China, only with traditional, non-simplified characters. approximately 15
mio. (1997) speak Taiwanese, and a Chinese minority speak hakka (about
2.3 million, 1993). The island's indigenous people, the Gaoshan,
officially include 12 groups that speak Austronesian languages, including ami and atayal. During
the Japanese occupation of 1895-1945, all forms of Chinese and Gaoshan language
were suppressed, while in 1949-87 Mandarin was politically pursued. Official
support provides active support for the minority languages, most recently with
the launches of two national TV channels on resp. hakka in 2003 and Austronesian
in 2005; despite this, Mandarin and Taiwanese are practically dominant in
Taiwan - constitution and political system
The Republic's Constitution is from 1991 with subsequent amendments, and the
political system contains features from both parliamentary and presidential
systems. Five councils, the Yuan, share the main parliamentary tasks:
The legislature lies with a council of 225 members (which in 2007 was reduced to
113), of which 168 are directly elected, 41 are allocated by the political
parties by turnout, eight are overseas Chinese, appointed of the president, and
eight are native Taiwanese. The members sit for three years.
This council also has the power to initiate constitutional amendments, raise
state lawsuits against the president and vice president, and approve the
appointment of high-ranking officials.
Executive power is formally vested in the President, who since 1996, together
with a Vice-President, is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term of
four years. The president is head of state. At the suggestion of the Legislative
Council, the President appoints a Prime Minister who chairs an executive council
In addition, there is a Judicial Council (a Supreme Court), which must
monitor compliance with the Constitution, an examination board to ensure that
only qualified applicants are employed in the public service, and finally there
is a control council (a state audit) to monitor public business in general,
including not least the financial aspects. Special minimum quotas for women have
been stipulated in elections to all the bodies mentioned.
The National Assembly, whose main powers are to elect and possibly remove the
president as well as make constitutional changes, has 300 members nominated by
the political parties and who are elected by proportional representation. The
National Assembly sits for six years. It was decided by an overwhelming majority
(249-48) to abolish this assembly in 2005, so that by parliament hereafter had
only one chamber, the Legislative Yuan.
Taiwan got its first female president when 59-year-old Tsai Ing-wen from the
Democratic Progress Party (DPP) was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony on
Taiwan - political parties
There are about a hundred political parties registered in
Taiwan. Guomindang, GMD, has dominated Taiwan's political life 1945-2000; until
1986 it was the only political party allowed. The Democratic Progressive Party,
DPP, was formed in 1986 as a rallying point for the forces that want
independence and a showdown with the dominance of the GMD. The New Party, NP,
was formed in 1993 by a breakaway group from the GMD, which, unlike the DPP, is
in favor of closer ties with China.
The presidential election in 2000 brought with DPP candidate Chen Shui-bians
(b. 1951) victory for the first time the opposition to power in the country's
top post. A new breakaway group from the GMD under the leadership of James Soong
(b. 1942), who finished second ahead of the GMD candidate, decided after the
election to form a new political party, the People First Party, PFP.
Taiwan's political landscape has changed completely in just a few
years. Guomindang Nationalist Party, GMD, which had held political power on the
island since 1945, lost the 2000 presidential election to the opposition DPP
party due to a split between GMD's two top people, Lien Chan (b. 1936) and James
Soong (b. 1942). Soong subsequently created the new People First Party, PFP.
In the 2001 parliamentary elections, the GMD lost its hitherto dominant role
in parliament with a vote loss of almost 40%. The DPP, which combines a social
democratic and a liberal profile, became the big winner of the election, but did
not get a majority.
Parliamentary elections brought a new party, Taiwan's Solidarity Union, TSU,
backed by former GMD leader and former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui. James
Soong's PFP, which is developing into a conservative center party, got a good
choice with approximately 20% of the votes. The New Party, NP, created in 1993 by GMD
breakaways, was virtually wiped out by the election.
Since 2000, a pattern has established itself in Taiwanese politics with two
major coalitions, "the blue camp" and "the green camp". The blue camp derives
its color from the party banner of Guomindang, the alliance's largest party,
which in addition consists of the PFP and the small NP. The Alliance is united
by a common desire to maintain its current status vis-à-vis China with a view to
a possible reunification with the mainland, when circumstances allow.
The Green Camp, which in the long run wants a formal separation from China
and an independent state, similarly has its color from the alliance's dominant
party, the DPP, and also consists of the Taiwan Independence Party and the
Taiwan Solidarity Union.
Taiwan - economy
With financial support from the United States, Taiwan underwent rapid
industrialization in the 1950's. The support was gradually made conditional on
Taiwan focusing on using its financial resources to create the basis for
long-term growth development.
The government pursued an industrial and trade policy that supported export
and import substitute companies. The results showed, and in 1965 the United
States was able to suspend aid.
In the wake of China's reforms in the late 1970's, relations between Taiwan
and China improved, and Taiwanese companies began to invest heavily in the
mainland. This was usually done through companies registered in Hong Kong, as
the Taiwanese government only from 1990 allowed the country's companies to
invest in China.
While Taiwan has been reserved for close economic integration with the
mainland for political reasons, since joining the UN in 1971, China has in turn
blocked Taiwanese membership of most international organizations with few
exceptions such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co.
Taiwan's diplomatic relations are few and far between, but this formal
isolation has not prevented a sharp development of foreign trade and capital
exports, especially to countries in Southeast Asia.
The economic prosperity of the 1960's and 1970's was mainly created by the
production of goods with a low technology content, but since then a sharply
rising wage level led to the emergence of capital and knowledge-intensive
companies, especially in the electronics and chemicals industries.
The main goals of economic policy since the 1990's have been to deregulate the
economy, privatize a number of state-owned enterprises in the financial
sector and make the country more open to foreign investors.
Furthermore, the government has sought to reduce the growing economic
dependence on China, by increasing the incentives to invest in the rest of
Southeast Asia. But the government has not been able to prevent relatively large
deficits in public budgets, in 2005 almost 3% of GDP, which due to large
defense costs and infrastructure projects.
The exchange rate of the currency, the New Taiwan dollar, has been floating
under the supervision of the central bank since 1979. Taiwan belongs to the
group of dynamic Asian economies (The Little Tigers), and for most of
the 1990's, economic growth was 6-7% per year.
However, like most other countries in the region, Taiwan was hit by the
international financial crisis in 1997. Stock prices fell sharply and the
currency lost about 20% in value against the dollar. However, the crisis did not
hit the real economy hard, mainly due to the relatively sound condition of the
banking sector. Growth therefore declined only slightly, while unemployment rose
to around 3%.
In 2001, the international crisis caused a decline in Taiwan's GDP of 2%, but
the pace increased to over 6% in 2004 and then, in connection with higher oil
prices, slowed to almost 4% in 2005. Unemployment and inflation remain low (4
respectively). % and 2.3% in 2005).
Mht. prosperity and economic equality, Taiwan compares to or surpasses
Western European countries. It has a very large foreign trade, and due to its
trade policy, it has traditionally had large surpluses on the balance of
payments. In 2002, it became a member of the WTO.
The main trading partners in 2005 were on the export side of China, the USA
and Hong Kong and on the import side of Japan, the USA and China.
Denmark's exports to Taiwan in 2005 amounted to DKK 1,230 million. DKK, while
imports from there were 4002 mill. kr.
Taiwan - social conditions
Taiwan's standard of living is on par with many western countries. The
general state of health of the population has greatly improved over the years,
and average life expectancy has increased by 17 years from the 1950's to 2000; it
is now 78 years for women and 72 years for men.
As in the rest of East Asia, the public social system has been poorly
developed, and instead has been built on private insurance and social security
systems, which employers are responsible for. However, there is now a public
health insurance system, just as there is free schooling for everyone from 6 to
The state provides unemployment benefits of 60% of the previous salary to
those who have been insured for at least two years; the support is provided for
a limited period, 6-16 months.
The Armed Forces is (2006) 290,000. Conscript service is 20 months. The army
is at 200,000, the navy at 45,000 and the air force at 45,000. The reserve is
1,653,500, of which the army is 1,500,000, the navy 32,000 and the air force
The forces have Western-produced equipment, much of which is older due to
weapons-producing countries' consideration for China. Taiwan also has locally
manufactured weapons, such as AIDC Ching-kuo fighter jets developed
with assistance from the United States. The army has 3 corps headquarters and in
peacetime 5 armored, 1 armored infantry, 28 infantry, 5 motorized infantry and
1 hunter brigade. In addition, 3 brigades with armed and transport
helicopters. The fleet has 32 larger and 59 smaller combat vessels, 4
submarines, 12 demining vessels, 339 landing craft and vessels of various
sizes, a navyof 15,000 and a fleet of 32 aircraft and 20 helicopters. The Air
Force has 479 fighter jets, 37 transport aircraft of various sizes and 35
transport helicopters. The total strength of the security and border forces is
China considers Taiwan a province of the People's Republic. Approaching
Chinese naval exercises in the Taiwan Strait increase tensions. Taiwan's armed
forces are built with the emphasis on an invasion defense and urban struggle.
Taiwan - mass media
Taiwan's democratization triggered a furious media image; in 1988 the print
press was released, and in the following ten years the number of newspapers grew
from 31 to over 360.
After the abolition of radio censorship in 1990, there were 80 radio stations
in 2003. Virtually all households have at least one television. There are five
Taiwanese television stations broadcasting to the entire island and 140 cable
Taiwan - visual arts and architecture
With Chinese immigration in the Ming period (1368-1644), Chinese art became
prevalent. The architecture was characterized by South Chinese building
style. During the Japanese occupation 1895-1945, it was built in the Japanese
style, and the colonial government encouraged the study of Japanese art, just as
it introduced western art directions.
After 1949, traditional art gained renewed influence. At the same time, an
increasing number of artists sought to create a new Chinese painting; several
art groups rejected the Chinese tradition and sought inspiration in contemporary
international art, especially abstract expressionism, and in the woodcarving art
of the indigenous Taiwanese people.
Today, all means of expression are freely experimented with.
Taiwan - literature
The literature on Taiwan in the decade after 1949 consisted mostly of novels
with an anti-communist content and without major artistic pretensions. From the
1960's and 1970's, the literary scene was marked by two contrasting but also
overlapping currents, which partly reflected the two population groups, the
mainland Chinese and the actual Taiwanese population.
First, a Western-inspired, aesthetically conscious modernism emerged around
the journal Xiandai Wenxue (Modern Literature, 1960-73; 1976-) with mainland
writers such as Bai Xianyong (b. 1937), Wang Wenxing (b. 1939) and the poet and
English professor Yu Guangzhong (b. 1928). The modernist movement was later
overshadowed by a more locally colored realism, xiangtu,
i.e. homeland literature that arose in response.
In xiangtu writers such as Wang Zhenhe (1940-90), Huang Chunming (b. 1939)
and Chen Yingzhen (b. 1936), there are socially critical depictions of
contemporary immediate problems and of the disadvantages of Westernization and
Since the 1980's, literature has been characterized by pluralism and market
forces, and prominent women writers such as Li Ang (b. 1952) have asserted
themselves. In 1987, the previous total ban on literature from mainland China
was lifted, and a dialogue between the two was initiated.