Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations


In 1949, communists led by Mao Zedong came to power in China, causing the leaders of the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang Party (KMT) to flee to Taiwan.  From 1949 to 1987, the KMT ruled Taiwan under the longest period of martial law in modern times. Taiwan was led first by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and then by his son Chiang Ching-kuo.  Chiang Ching-kuo finally initiated democratic reforms, and his protégé, Lee Teng-hui, became the first native-born president of Taiwan in 1988.  Lee was later elected as the president in the first direct elections held in 1996.

China has continued its efforts to isolate Taiwan, insisting that other countries cannot have diplomatic relations with two Chinas.  Taiwan lost its UN seat to China in 1971, thanks in part to the US policy change towards the communist nation.  The US made an attempt to allow Taiwan to maintain its General Assembly membership, but that resolution was defeated.  Currently, very few countries have diplomatic contacts with Taiwan.

China has maintained that it would like to unify the two countries under its “One China” policy, using force if necessary.  That policy has been softened to suggest that a peaceful resolution of the issue was preferred.  But the contentious issue of Taiwan has resulted in hundreds of Chinese missiles allegedly aimed at the small island state. Despite its strong diplomatic and economic ties with China, the US continues to provide weapons to Taiwan.

Taiwan’s worldwide diplomatic isolation has not hindered the country’s tremendous economic boom.  Taiwan is one of the top producers of computer technology in the world, and despite tensions between the nations, Taiwan and China maintain trading relationships.  Taiwan’s largest export partner is China (29.2 percent of exports went to China in 2008), and China is Taiwan’s second largest imports supplier (13 percent in 2007).

Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.

    Full Name:  Taiwan
    Form of Government:  Multiparty democracy
   Year of Independence:  n/a
   Population:  22974347
   Capital:  Taipei
   Largest City:  n/a
   Major Religion:  Mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
   Area:  36,188 sq km (13,972 sq miles)
   Major Languages:  Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
   Life Expectancy:  75 (men), 81 (women) (2009 est.)
   Monetary Unit:  1 New Taiwan dollar (NT$) = 100 cents
   Main Exports:  Computer equipment, textiles, basic metals, equipment, plastic and rubber products, vehicles and auto parts
   GDP - Per Capita (PPP):  $31,900 (2008 est.)
   Internet Domain:  .tw
   International Dialing Code:  +886