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The World Factbook. 2008.


Flag of Taiwan                                Map of Taiwan
Background:In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan 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 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became 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.
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
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
Area—comparative:slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
Land boundaries:0 km
Coastline:1,566.3 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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 3,952 m
Natural resources:small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
Land use:arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75% (2001)
Irrigated land:NA
Total renewable water resources:67 cu km (2000)
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 disposal
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
Population:22,858,872 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 17.8% (male 2,117,051/female 1,954,709)
15-64 years: 72% (male 8,306,351/female 8,141,268)
65 years and over: 10.2% (male 1,150,001/female 1,189,492) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 35.5 years
male: 35 years
female: 36 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:0.304% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:8.97 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:6.54 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.083 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.967 male(s)/female
total population: 1.026 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 5.54 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.86 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.19 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 77.56 years
male: 74.65 years
female: 80.74 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:1.12 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:NA
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
Nationality:noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example – he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
Ethnic groups:Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
Religions:mixture of Buddhist 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: 96.1%
male: NA%
female: NA% (2003)
Country name:conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T’ai-wan
former: Formosa
Government type:multiparty democracy
Capital:name: Taipei
geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China’s Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chuan-shih, singular and plural)
note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
counties: Changhua, Chiayi [county], Hsinchu, Hualien, Kaohsiung [county], Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei [county], Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Yunlin
municipalities: Chiayi [city], Hsinchu, Keelung, Taichung, Tainan
special municipalities: Kaohsiung [city], Taipei [city]
National holiday:Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
Constitution:25 December 1947; amended in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
note: constitution adopted on 25 December 1946; went into effect on 25 December 1947
Legal system:based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President CHEN Shui-bian (since 20 May 2000); Vice President Annette LU (LU Hsiu-lien) (since 20 May 2000)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) CHANG Chun-hsiung (since 21 May 2007); Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) CHIOU I-jen (since 21 May 2007)
cabinet: Executive Yuan – (ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 20 March 2004 (next to be held 22 March 2008); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
election results: CHEN Shui-bian re-elected president; percent of vote – CHEN Shui-bian 50.1%, LIEN Chan 49.9%
Legislative branch:unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats – 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
elections: Legislative Yuan – last held 12 January 2008 (next to be held in January 2012)
election results: Legislative Yuan – percent of vote by party – KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party – KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1
Judicial branch:Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
Political parties and leaders:Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [Frank HSIEH or HSIEH Chang-ting] (acting); Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [WU Po-hsiung]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [CHANG Po-ya]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
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 the island currently enjoys sovereign independence and – whatever the ultimate outcome regarding reunification or independence – that Taiwan’s people must have the deciding voice; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan’s status quo for the foreseeable future; 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:ADB, APEC, BCIE, ICC, IOC, ITUC, WCL, WTO
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), which has its headquarters in Taipei and in the US in Washington, DC; there are also branch offices called Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in 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 at 1700 N. Moore St., Suite 1700, Arlington, VA 22209-1996, telephone: [1] (703) 525-8474, FAX: [1] (703) 841-1385); Taiwan offices at #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (2) 2162-2000, FAX: [886] (2) 2162-2251; #2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: [886] (7) 238-7744, FAX: [886] (7) 238-5237; 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:red with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
Economy—overview:Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing guidance of investment and foreign trade by the authorities. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms are being privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world’s largest. Despite restrictions on cross-strait links, China has overtaken the US to become Taiwan’s largest export market and its second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island’s number one destination for foreign direct investment. Strong trade performance in 2007 pushed Taiwan’s GDP growth rate above 5%, and unemployment is below 4%.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$690.1 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$375.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:5.5% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$29,800 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 26.8%
services: 71.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:10.78 million (2007 est.)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 36.8%
services: 57.9% (2007 est.)
Unemployment rate:3.9% (2007)
Population below poverty line:0.95% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):1.8% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):21.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $49 billion
expenditures: $5.19 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:31.1% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
Industries:electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate:7.5% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:235 billion kWh (2006)
Electricity—consumption:221 billion kWh (2006)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2007)
Oil—production:406 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—consumption:816,700 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—exports:289,200 bbl/day (2006)
Oil—imports:1.208 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil—proved reserves:2.24 million bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas—production:462.9 million cu m (2006)
Natural gas—consumption:10.28 billion cu m (2006)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2007)
Natural gas—imports:10.16 billion cu m (2006)
Natural gas—proved reserves:13.55 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Current account balance:$24.7 billion (2006)
Exports:$246.7 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:electronic and electrical products, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals, auto parts (2002)
Exports—partners:China 24%, Hong Kong 15%, US 13.4%, Japan 6.7% (2007)
Imports:$219.3 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:electronic and electrical products, machinery, petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals (2002)
Imports—partners:Japan 21%, China 12.7%, US 12.2%, South Korea 7.1%, Saudi Arabia 4.6% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$274.7 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt—external:$85.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment—at home:$92.83 billion (2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment—abroad:$108.9 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$654 billion (28 December 2007)
Currency (code):New Taiwan dollar (TWD)
Exchange rates:New Taiwan dollars per US dollar – 32.84 (2007), 32.534 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004), 34.575 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:14.497 million (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:23.249 million (2006)
Telephone system:general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code – 886; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and US; 2 satellite earth stations
Radio broadcast stations:AM 140, FM 229, shortwave 49
Television broadcast stations:76 (46 digital and 30 analog)
Internet country
Internet hosts:5.111 million (2007)
Internet users:13.21 million (2005)
Airports:41 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Heliports:4 (2007)
Pipelines:condensate 25 km; gas 661 km (2007)
Railways:total: 1,588 km
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,093 km 1.067-m gauge
note: 150 km .762-m gauge (belonging primarily to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and Taiwan Forestry Bureau; some to other entities) (2007)
Roadways:total: 40,262 km
paved: 38,171 km (includes 976 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,091 km (2007)
Merchant marine:total: 102 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,537,256 GRT/4,203,423 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 33, cargo 20, chemical tanker 2, container 21, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 15, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 4 (Canada 3, France 1)
registered in other countries: 489 (Bahamas 1, Bolivia 1, Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 11, Indonesia 2, Italy 11, Liberia 82, Panama 306, Singapore 60, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 3) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Taichung
Military branches:Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
Military service age and obligation:19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 16 months (to be shortened to 14 months as of July 2007 and to 12 months in 2008); women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (2007)
Manpower available for military service:males age 19-49: 5,883,828
females age 19-49: 5,680,773 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 19-49: 4,749,537
females age 19-49: 4,644,607 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 174,173
females age 19-49: 163,683 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:2.2% (2006; to increase to 2.85% in 2007)
Transnational Issues
Disputes—international:involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; the 2002 “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding “code of conduct” desired by several of the disputants; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan’s claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan’s unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting
Illicit drugs:regional transit point for heroin, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs