Taiwan Republic of China: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Taiwan, a republic of China.




Location--A leaf-shaped island less than 100 mi. from the coast of southern China at a point where the East and South China seas and the western Pacific Ocean come together. The Republic of China also includes many smaller islands such as the Penghus (Pescadores), between Taiwan and mainland China; Kinmen (Quemoy), adjacent to the Chinese coast at Hsia-men (Amoy); and Matsu, near the coast at Foochow.

How Created--Aborigines similar to certain tribes found in the Philippines were the original inhabitants. Chinese began migrating to the island as early as the 6th century A.D., but large-scale migration did not occur until the 17th century, when Chinese came from the nearby coastal provinces of Fukien and Kwangtung.

In 1895, as part of the settlement of the Sino-Japanese War, the Manchus ceded Taiwan to Japan, which ruled the island through W.W. II.

The Kuomintang (KMT, or Nationalist Chinese) received the Japanese surrender of Taiwan. The KMT-appointed governor ruled so ruthlessly that the native Taiwanese rebelled spontaneously in 1947, taking control of the island but pledging support to the national (not provincial) KMT Government. The KMT dispatched 10,000 troops from the mainland to put down the revolt. They did, and in the process killed at least 10,000 people. In the next few years, refugees from all over China, fleeing the advancing communist armies, arrived on Taiwan. In December, 1949, the KMT National Government moved itself and most of its remaining army to Taiwan.

Size--13,892 sq. mi. (35,981 sq. km.).

Population--16 million: pre-W.W. II Chinese, 81%; post-W.W. II Chinese, 18%; Aborigine, 1%. 95% Buddhist and Taoist, 5% Christian and some Muslim.

Who Rules--A National Assembly of delegates elected at the county level elects a President who is assisted by a Cabinet in running the country. Since the Assembly theoretically represents all of China, new national elections supposedly cannot be held until the KMT recovers the mainland. The current Assembly is the same one that fled in 1949, with 2 changes. First, over half the members have died. Second, in 1972 the Government staged new elections (ostensibly for Taiwan province), adding 53 new members to the body which once had almost 3,000. The Legislative Yuan, Taiwan's congress, and the Control Yuan, which is supposed to monitor efficiency and honesty in government, are theoretically elective. The legislative Yuan shrank from 760 members in 1949 to 435 members in 1972, including 180 over 70 years old. In 1972 elections added 36 new members.

Who REALLY Rules--Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (born 1887) had been head of the Kuomintang since 1927 and Taiwan's only President until his death in April, 1975. In 1972 he appointed his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, Prime Minister. Following his father's death Premier Chiang was also appointed Chairman of the KMT.

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