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Published Issue: 2011 April

Taiwan

Taiwan is situated off the southeastern coast of China. Xiamen in Fujian Province, Mainland China, is the closest city across the Taiwan Straits. Taipei is the capital of Taiwan. It has a total land area of 36,000 sq km, a population of 23 million and a GDP p.c. of US$35,100 (2010 est). 99% of the population is covered by the national health insurance. All children receive nine years free and compulsory education.

Mandarin Chinese is the spoken language, which has been the medium of instruction in the schools for more than five decades. The southern Fujian dialects also known as Taiwanese and Hakka are spoken in several counties throughout Taiwan. As a result of the half-century of Japanese rule, many older people can also speak Japanese. The method of Chinese romanization is not consistent, often resulting in two or more romanizations for the same place or person.

Most "native" Taiwanese migrated from Fujian and Guangdong Provinces on the mainland, primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries. About half a million indigenous peoples inhabit the mountainous central and eastern parts of the island.

100 years' celebration! On January 1st 1912 the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, was established after a battle against the Qing Dynasty during the winter of 1911. Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the first President.

Since May 2008, the elected Chief of State: President MA Ying-jeou, Vice President Vincent SIEW, Head of Government, since September 2009: Premier (president of the executive Yuan) WU Den-yih, Vice Premier Eric CHU.

The climate is subtropical with a typhoon season from June to September. The island is hit by typhoons on an average of 3,5 yearly causing heavy rain and environmental damage. More than 2,500 mm of rain fall every year. Its position on the boundaries of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates makes Taiwan vulnerable to earthquakes. Volcanic activity is apparent everywhere as the island is dotted with volcanic hot springs.

Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are practiced throughout the island, with a small but significant Christian population. Taiwan's culture is a blend of its distinctive Chinese, Japanese, and Western influences.



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