Archaeologists have found artifacts dating back to the Neolithic Age which began in Taiwan around 7,000 years ago. These artifacts share similarities with those found on the southeastern coast of China. Western influence in Taiwan did not begin until the 16th century and so before this, Taiwan was comprised of an indigenous population that had its own languages, social structures and cultures.
By the middle of the 16th century, Western European sailors began to arrive in the Far East with colonial intentions. Due to its a prime geographical location where the Northeast Asian waters meet the Southeast waters, Taiwan became an object of competition for powers from Europe, China and Japan. The Dutch East India Company arrived in 1624 with the intent of taking advantage of Taiwan’s tropical crops like sugar cane and rice.
In 1662, Cheng Chen-Kung was battling the Ching Dynasty in China. After he was defeated, he returned to Taiwan with the goal of removing the Dutch. Once this was accomplished, he established the island’s first Chinese-style regime. As the Chinese mainland was changing, many people sought refuge in Taiwan. However, by 1683, the Ching Dynasty managed to conquer Taiwan and the island became part of the Chinese Empire many restrictions were put in place to prevent Taiwan from becoming a base for resistance. Despite these restrictions, many people from China’s southeastern coast migrated and intermarried with the locals, sharing cultures. Over the next two hundred years, the majority of Taiwan’s population became integrated with immigrants from China.
By the second half of the 19th century, colonial interests expanded bringing missionaries and further trade options. In 1894, the Sino-Japanese War saw Taiwan ceded to Japan. Japan created much infrastructure including new modes of transportation and greatly improved the standard of living. Industrial Japan and agricultural Taiwan proved to be a fruitful relationship. However, after the Second World War when Japan was forced to surrender, they were also forced to give up much of their territory.
A Chinese Civil War had begun before the Second World War and continued afterwards between Chinese Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-Shek and the Chinese Communist Part. The Nationalists were defeated and the People’s Republic of China was formed in October 1949. In December 1949, Chiang Kai-Shek evacuated his defeated government to Taiwan making Taipei the temporary capital of the Republic of China (ROC). The ROC claimed sovereignty over all of China, while Communists on the mainland said the ROC no longer existed.
Martial law was introduced in 1949 and was not repealed until 1987. This was a time of immense repression and some 140,000 people were either imprisoned or even executed if they were perceived as being anti-Nationalists or pro-Communism in what is known as the White Terror. Taiwan experienced a one-party rule through the 1980s with other political parties being outlawed.
The mid-1980s saw the beginnings of liberalisation of the political system and in 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party was formed marking the first opposition party in Taiwan’s history. The late 1980s and 1990s witnessed a move towards Taiwanese culture rather than Chinese as well as social and political reform as Taiwan began to change from an authoritarian state to a democracy. The new millennium began with a call for independence and separate identity from China. While issues between China and Taiwan still exist, communication and trade have increased since the 1970s. Travel has also intensified with approximately one million people travelling between the two countries annually. Internationally, this island nation has become one of Asia’s “must-see” destinations.
Taiwan Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Taiwan.
Learn about the history and culture of Taiwan, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Taiwan's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Taiwan for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Taiwan tours today!
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