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Introduction

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Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) (China mainland) to the west, Japan to the north-east, and the Philippines to the south. The island of Taiwan has an area of 35,808 square kilometres (13,826 sq mi), with mountain ranges dominating the eastern two-thirds and plains in the western third, where its highly urbanised population is concentrated. Taipei is the capital and largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Taoyuan. With 23.7 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated states, and is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN).

Taiwanese indigenous peoples settled the island of Taiwan around 6,000 years ago. In the 17th century, Dutch rule opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, and ceded to the Empire of Japan in 1895. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Republic of China, which had overthrown and succeeded the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan on behalf of the World War II Allies. The resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the loss of the mainland to the Communist Party of China and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the ROC government continued to claim to be the legitimate representative of China, since 1950 its effective jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and several small islands. In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic growth and industrialisation called the "Taiwan Miracle". In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ROC transitioned from a one-party military dictatorship to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system.

Taiwan's export-oriented industrial economy is the 21st-largest in the world, with major contributions from steel, machinery, electronics and chemicals manufacturing. Taiwan is a developed country, ranking 15th in GDP per capita. It is ranked highly in terms of political and civil liberties, education, health care and human development.

The political status of Taiwan remains uncertain. The ROC is no longer a member of the UN, having been replaced by the PRC in 1971. Taiwan is claimed by the PRC, which refuses diplomatic relations with countries that recognise the ROC. Taiwan maintains official ties with 14 out of 193 UN member states and the Holy See. International organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only on a non-state basis. Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asian Development Bank under various names. Nearby countries and countries with large economies maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Domestically, the major political division is between parties favouring eventual Chinese unification and promoting a Chinese identity contrasted with those aspiring to independence and promoting Taiwanese identity, although both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal.

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Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (8336946440).jpg

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (IATA: TPE, ICAO: RCTP) is an international airport serving Taipei and northern Taiwan. Located about 40 km (25 mi) west of Taipei in Dayuan District, Taoyuan, the airport is Taiwan's largest and busiest airport. It is one of five Taiwanese airports with regular international flights, and is operated by the Taoyuan International Airport Corporation. In 2016, it was ranked the best airport for its size in the Asia-Pacific region by Airports Council International.

The airport opened for commercial operations in 1979 and is an important regional trans-shipment center, passenger hub, and gateway for destinations in Asia. Formerly known as Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, it was renamed on 6 September 2006 to its current name. It is one of two that serves Taipei; the other, Taipei Songshan Airport, is located within city limits and served as Taipei's only international airport until 1979. Songshan now mainly serves chartered flights, intra-island flights, and limited international flights. Read more...

Selected biography

Wu Zhaonan in 2012.

Wu Zhaonan (Chinese: 吳兆南; Wade–Giles: Wu Chao-nan; 14 January 1926 – 14 October 2018) was a Taiwanese xiangsheng comedian officially recognized by the government of Taiwan as a "national treasure". He was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lincoln Center and the Golden Melody Award for Lifetime Contributions. Before becoming a comedian, he ran a food stall in Taipei where he created and popularized the dish Mongolian barbecue. Read more...

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Fort Zeelandia
Fort Zeelandia in Anping, Tainan was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1624 but was laid siege 38 years later by Koxinga resulting in the Dutch surrender and end of Dutch colonization of Taiwan.

Photo credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

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Hsu Tain-tsair in 2015

Hsu Tain-tsair (Chinese: 許添財; pinyin: Xǔ Tiāncái; Wade–Giles: Hsǔ Tiēn-tsái; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Khó͘ Thiam-châi; born 23 January 1953) is a Taiwanese politician who served as the mayor of Tainan City from 2001 to 2010. Born in Tainan County (now part of Tainan City), Hsu got his PhD candidacy in economics in the United States, where he started participating in the independence movement of Taiwan. He was placed on the black list of Kuomintang and was not allowed to return to Taiwan until 1990.

When Hsu returned to Taiwan, he joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Having been elected legislator three times, Hsu is considered a privy councilor to the DPP in the field of economics. He was nominated to run for the mayor of Tainan and was elected in 2001. During his terms as mayor, Hsu worked on public projects and encouraged tourism. For example, a police unit was established to facilitate tourists in 2007, and he also improved the environment of the city. Read more...

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