Taiwan is an island which has for all practical purposes been independent since 1950, but which China regards as a rebel region that must be reunited with the mainland – by force if necessary.
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled to the island as the Communists, under Mao Zedong, swept to power.
China insists that nations cannot have official relations with both China and Taiwan, with the result that Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only a few countries. The US is Taiwan’s most important friend and protector.
Despite its diplomatic isolation, Taiwan has become one of Asia’s big traders. It is considered to have achieved an economic miracle, becoming one of the world’s top producers of computer technology.
- Republic of China (ROC)
- Capital: Taipei
- Population 23,3 million
- Area 36,188 sq km (13,972 sq miles)
- Major languagesMandarin Chinese (official), Min Nan Chinese (Taiwanese), Hakka
- Major religions Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity
- Life expectancy 76,2 years (men), 82,7 years (women)
- Currency New Taiwan dollar