Taiwan is a mountainous subtropical island located in the West Pacific Ocean, between the East China Sea and the South China Sea, separated from mainland China by the 180-km-wide Taiwan Strait. The island, with a land area of approximately 36,000 square kilometers, has 23 million residents. New Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei are the four largest cities, and Taipei is the capital. This entry describes the historical background and current state of the East Asian island.

From European Colonization to Japanese Colonization: 1624–1945

Early Portuguese sailors called Taiwan “Ilha Formosa” (beautiful island). The Dutch came to this island in 1624, when it was inhabited by Austronesian aboriginal peoples and Han Chinese. Spaniards arrived in 1626 to colonize northern Taiwan, but the Dutch ousted them in 1642. In ...

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