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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Taiwan

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Taiwan
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
23 30 N, 121 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Southeast Asia
Definition Field Listing
total: 35,980 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy
water: 3,720 sq km
land: 32,260 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
0 km
Definition Field Listing
1,566.3 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Definition Field Listing
tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
Definition Field Listing
eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,997 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75%
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
earthquakes and typhoons
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
   People    Taiwan
Definition Field Listing
22,548,009 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
0.78% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
14.21 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.08 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 76.74 years
female: 79.71 years (2002 est.)
male: 73.99 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.76 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, aborigine 2%
Definition Field Listing
mixture of Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Definition Field Listing
Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86% (1980 est.)
male: 93% (1980 est.)
female: 79% (1980 est.)
note: literacy for the total population has reportedly increased to 94% (1998 est.)
   Government    Taiwan
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local short form: T'ai-wan
local long form: none
former: Formosa
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly elected president and unicameral legislature
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Definition Field Listing
1 January 1947, amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1999
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Definition Field Listing
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Shui-bian CHEN (since 20 May 2000) and Vice President Annette Hsiu-lien LU (since 20 May 2000)
election results: Shui-bian CHEN elected president; percent of vote - Shui-bian CHEN (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: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote 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: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) Shyi-kun YU (since 1 February 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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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: [886] (2) 2720-1550, FAX: [886] (2) 2757-7162
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
red with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
   Economy    Taiwan
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
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.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $386 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
-2.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $17,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 2%
industry: 32%
services: 66% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
1% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
33 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
0.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
9.8 million (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 56%, industry 36%, agriculture 8% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.5% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $36 billion
expenditures: $36.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
-5% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
149.78 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 69%
hydro: 6%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 25%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
139.3 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Definition Field Listing
$122 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and electrical equipment 55%, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 23.5%, Hong Kong 21.1%, Europe 16%, ASEAN 12.2%, Japan 11.2% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$109 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and electrical equipment 50%, minerals, precision instruments
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Japan 27.5%, US 17.9%, Europe 13.6%, South Korea 6.4% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$40 billion (2000)
Definition Field Listing
new Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
new Taiwan dollars per US dollar - 34.6 (2002), 34.49 (yearend 2001),, 33.08 (yearend 2000),, 31.4 (yearend 1999),, 32.22 (1998),, 32.05 (1997),, 27.5 (1996)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
12.49 million (September 2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
16 million (September 2000)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 218, FM 333, shortwave 50 (1999)
Definition Field Listing
16 million (1994)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
29 (plus two repeaters) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
8.8 million (1998)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
8 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
11.6 million (2001)
   Transportation    Taiwan
Definition Field Listing
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)
Definition Field Listing
total: 34,901 km
paved: 31,271 km (including 538 km of expressways)
unpaved: 3,630 km (1998 est.)
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
petroleum products 3,400 km; natural gas 1,800 km (1999)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Chi-lung (Keelung), Hua-lien, Kao-hsiung, Su-ao, T'ai-chung
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
39 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 37
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Definition Field Listing
3 (2002)
   Military    Taiwan
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy (including Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
19 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,575,625 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 5,018,882 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 198,766 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$8,041.2 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
2.8% (FY01)
   Transnational Issues    Taiwan
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
regional transit point for heroin and methamphetamine; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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