What Is Taiwan? Why Is Taiwan Sometimes Called Formosa?
Taiwan (Formosa), officially also the Republic of China or the Republic of China (Taiwan), is an island republic in the China Sea in East Asia. Taiwan is still sometimes referred to as Formosa, and has been for centuries, it was only known as the Republic of Formosa for five short months. Formosa the name of Taiwan before World War II is of Portuguese origin.
Portuguese sailors named present-day Taiwan Ihala Formosa (“Beautiful Island”). The Chinese later called it Taiwan (“Terraced Bay”). During the Japanese occupation between 1985 and 1945, it was known as Formosa. The name for the island eventually replaced all others, and up until the early 20th century, it was the most common title for Taiwan in European literature.
Capital, Taipei; area about 35,808 square kilometers (13,826 sq mi). 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).
The shape of the main island of Taiwan is similar to a sweet potato seen in a south-to-north direction, and therefore, Taiwanese, especially the Min-nan division, often call themselves “children of the Sweet Potato.” There are also other interpretations of the island shape, one of which is a whale in the ocean (the Pacific Ocean) if viewed in a west-to-east direction, which is a common orientation in ancient maps, plotted either by Western explorers or the Great Qing.
Neighboring states include the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the north-west, Japan to the north-east, and the Philippines to the south. When the communists gained power in china in 1949, the nationalist government retreated to Taiwan, where it has retained control despite the opposition of the Chinese government. 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 numerous smaller islands.
The island consists of forested highlands and wide plains, with a monsoon climate. Agriculture is very productive, with rice, sugarcane and tropical fruit among the main crops. Fish are also farmed, and there are reserves of coal, natural gas and various minerals. Industry is highly developed, and certain consumer products, including electronic goods, are widely exported at low prices.
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.