Taiwan might not be one of the most common countries someone might think about; perhaps little more than seeing “made in Taiwan” on something we just purchased. Yet Taiwan is a beautiful island with a full and complicated history.

Let's learn more.

Our island home

Taiwan, or Formosa, is an island near China and to the south of Japan.

Following Taiwanese history is like following a ping pong game – a lot of back and forth.

Let's break it down a bit:

Drawing of Fort Zeelandia, part of Dutch Formosa

In 1952 Japan agrees to give up its claim to Taiwan. Taiwan is no longer part of Japan. But here's an important point, they did not give it to anyone else.

So, who's in charge of Taiwan?

From China with love

Confusing? It won't get any clearer.

Naturally, if there is no claim by any other country, one would suspect that at this point Taiwan would become an independent people.

And you would be wrong.

Remember the Chinese?

Of course, then as now, many in Taiwan want to be independent. Nevertheless, the Chinese took over.

And yet, things are about to get even weirder.

Back in China, the government was taken over by the communists; the government flees to Taiwan. This leads to a disagreement:

And so the controversy continues. Years ago I asked a Taiwanese friend of mine to explain the relationship between her native country and China. "It's complicated" was all she said.

Note: The United States recognized the government in Taiwan as the government of China until Nixon changed it in 1972.

Flag of Taiwan

The lay of the land

The island itself is, fittingly enough, shaped like a grain of rice along the north-south direction.

The mountains are along the eastern side, so the western side is where most of the population is, including the capital city Taipei.

Of course, the eastern side also has its attractions. In the mountains is the Taroko National Park with beautiful views.

Taroko Canyon

Suspension bridge

Tunnel bridge

And then there's the rain. The summers bring the heaviest rain (September alone delivers an average of 11 inches per year) and the fall the least. But overall about 5½ feet of rainfall falls on average over the year.

A modern miracle

As a child, my first introduction to Taiwan came with toys I got that had “made in Taiwan” on it. And for the next couple of decades that was just about all I knew about it. And I dare say that's true for many people.

But this simple label tells a whole story in itself. When the Chinese government moved in they imposed "Marshall law" or control by the military. This lasted until the mid-1980s. But near the end of this time (the late 1970s) it was decided to upscale Taiwan from a largely farming culture to more industrial. Taiwan went manufacturing and the famous label was born. It is, as been called, the "Taiwan Miracle."

This simple label then tells the story about a nation's rebirth. A nation reinventing itself. But then again, Taiwan has a long history of reinvention, from pirates to European colonies to Chinese and Japanese occupation.

Such things make for a good story.

On the web

Taiwan's East Coast Treasure | Taroko National Park Road Trip

A fun video of a couple taking a motor-scooter around the Taroko National Park. It gives an excellent and fun overview of the park as well as a sense of what it is like in Taiwan.

One Day In TAIPEI, TAIWAN | This City Is Fascinating!

A tour around Taipei, Taiwan's capital city.

A Brief History Of Taiwan

A simply illustrated, and brief, history of Taiwan.

Don't miss out on future posts! Sign up for our email list and like us on Facebook!

Check out more hot topics, go back to Home Page

Comments? You can contact me at mailbox@thehomegrownprofessor.com