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Taiwan, Okinawa’s Neighbor Makes Headlines Again

Date Posted: 2000-02-27

The small and wealthy island of Taiwan, considered by Mainland China as a renegade province that must be reunited with the rest of the big Asian country, is currently making headlines again. Upcoming elections there, coupled with some pro-independence statements during the campaigns of the various candidates, have provoked Beijing to issue renewed threats of using force against Taipei. A few months ago, Taiwan was in a state of shock following a series of devastating earthquakes that drew sympathy from all over the world.

However, beyond the politics, the economic success story and the disasters, Taiwan remains, after all, a great destination for tourists. Exotic culture, breathtaking scenery, priceless art, the entire range of Chinese cuisine, and very hospitable people make Taiwan an ideal place to spend your vacation. While traveling in Taiwan you can enjoy yourself in comfort with excellent hotels, delicious Chinese or Western food, and fast, convenient transportation.

Whenever you come to Taiwan, you can witness fascinating, exotic festivals, or cultural activities little changed for thousands of years. Wherever you go in Taiwan, you can see rugged mountains or verdant plains, bustling modern cities or bucolic farm villages, rushing cascades or placid lakes, pagodas perched on mist-clad hillsides or modern skyscrapers towering above tree-lined boulevards. Many modern Taiwanese boast that, “Whatever you want, you can find in Taiwan.”

Brief History

Taiwan has a rich, colorful history. It becomes a protectorate of the Chinese Empire in 1206, the year the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan founded the Yuan dynasty. The island was made a prefecture(country) of the coastal mainland province of Fukien in 1684, and in 1885, during the Ching or Manchu dynasty (China's last reigning house), Taiwan was proclaimed a separate province of China.

For centuries Taiwan has been familiar to the West as Formosa, a name derived from the 16th century mariners who, on sighting the island from a galleon, named it "Ilha Formosa!" (Beautiful Island!). The official Chinese name for the Pescadores (Fishermen's Isles), a name also given by Portuguese mariners, is Penghu. The archipelago is located in the Taiwan Strait, and forms one of the 16 counties of Taiwan province.

The invaded Taiwan in 1624 and remained as colonists for 37 years. The invaded and occupied northernmost Taiwan in 1626, but were driven out by the Dutch 16 years later in 1642. The Dutch were finally dislodged in 1661 by invading forces from the mainland led by the Ming dynasty loyalist Cheng Cheng-kung, whose latinized name, Koxinga, derives from his ennoblement by the Ming court as Kuo Hsing Yeh, or lord of the Imperial Surname. Koxinga hoped to use Taiwan as his base in the fight to overthrow the Ching dynasty and restore the Ming dynasty.

In 1884 the occupied northernmost Taiwan following a dispute with over, the Yunnan-Indochina border. In March 1885 they also occupied the Pescadores, but withdrew from both the Pescadores and Taiwan three months later under the terms of a treaty with China.

The Japanese went to war with China in 1894 following a dispute over Korea. By the treaty of Shimonoseki, concluded in 1895, Taiwan and the Pescadores were ceded to . Under another provision, , over which China had exercised suzerainty, was declared independent and, as expected, was subsequently annexed by Japan. Taiwan and the Pescadores were restored to Chinese rule at the end of World War II in 1945.

The principal city of Taiwan is Taipei, which since December 7,1949, has been the provisional capital of the Republic of China.

The was born in the Wuchang Revolution which erupted on October 10, 1911. The ROC was formally established on January 1, 1912 and brought the republican form of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" to replace the weak, corrupt bureaucracy of the Ching dynasty.

For more info on Taiwan, go to http://www.taiwantravel.com

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