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The island of Taiwan is located in the Pacific Ocean 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of China, separated from the mainland Chinese province of Fujian by the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan (including a number of outlying islands) covers an area of about 36,000 square kilometers and supports a population of roughly 23 million, 98% of which are Han Chinese, the remaining 2% being made up mostly of Austronesian aboriginal groups regarded as indigenous to the island. The political status of Taiwan is disputed, with the People's Republic of China claiming it as one of its provinces, while the island has de facto operated as a sovereign state, called the Republic of China, since 1949. A brief sketch of the island's history will help clarify this ...

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