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In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of Taiwan's eventual status - as well as domestic political and economic reform.


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Country name
Conventional long form None
Conventional short form Taiwan
Local long form None
Local short form Taiwan
Former Formosa

Government type
Multiparty democracy

Name Taipei
Geographic coordinates 25 02 N, 121 31 E
Time difference
UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
Includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China's Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 3 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 4 special municipalities (chih-hsia-shih, singular and plural)
Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
Changhua, Chiayi (county), Hsinchu (county), Hualien, Kaohsiung (county), Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan (county), Taipei (county), Taitung (county), Taoyuan, Yilan, Yunlin
Chiayi (city), Hsinchu (city), Keelung
Special municipalities
Kaohsiung (city), Taichung (city), Tainan (city), Taipei (city)

Adopted 25 December 1946; promulgated 1 January 1947; effective 25 December 1947; amended many times

Legal system
Civil law system

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

20 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President WU Den-yih (since 20 May 2012)
Head of government
Premier Sean C. CHEN (President of the Executive Yuan) (since 6 February 2012); Vice Premier JIANG Yi-huah (since 6 February 2012)
Executive Yuan - ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier
President and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held on 14 January 2012 (next to be held in January 2016); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
Election results
MA Ying-jeou elected president; percent of vote - MA Ying-jeou 51.6%, TSAI Ing-wen 45.6%, James SONG Chu-ye 2.8%

Legislative branch
Unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats - 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; members to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
Legislative Yuan - last held on 14 January 2011 (next to be held in January 2016)
Election results
Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - KMT 44.6%, DPP 34.6%, TSU 9.0%, PFP 5.5%, others 6.3%; seats by party - KMT 64, DPP 40, PFP 3, TSU 3, NPSU 2, independent 1

Judicial branch
Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)

Political parties and leaders
Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [SU Tseng-chang]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [MA Ying-jeou]; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [LIN Pin-kuan]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups
Debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan's status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; advocates of eventual unification predicate their goal on the democratic transformation of the mainland

International organization participation

Diplomatic representation in the us
None; commercial and cultural relations with the people in the United States are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts
Representative Jason C. YUAN
4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
Telephone [1] 202 895-1800
Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (branch offices)
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Houston, Honolulu, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle

Diplomatic representation from the us
None; commercial and cultural relations with the people on Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts
Director Christopher J. MARUT
#7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan
Telephone [1] [886] (02) 2162-2000
FAX [1] [886] (07) 238-7744
Other offices Kaohsiung

Flag description
Red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays; the blue and white design of the canton (symbolizing the sun of progress) dates to 1895; it was later adopted as the flag of the Kuomintang Party; blue signifies liberty, justice, and democracy; red stands for fraternity, sacrifice, and nationalism, white represents equality, frankness, and the people's livelihood; the 12 rays of the sun are those of the months and the twelve traditional Chinese hours (each ray equals two hours)

National symbol(s)
White, 12-rayed sun on blue field

National anthem
"Zhonghua Minguo guoge" (National Anthem of the Republic of China)
HU Han-min, TAI Chi-t'ao, and LIAO Chung-k'ai/CHENG Mao-Yun
Adopted 1930; the anthem is also the song of the Kuomintang Party; it is informally known as "San Min Chu I" or "San Min Zhu Yi" (Three Principles of the People); because of political pressure from China, "Guo Qi Ge" (National Banner Song) is used at international events rather than the official anthem of Taiwan; the "National Banner Song" has gained popularity in Taiwan and is commonly used during flag raisings


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