Officially known as Republic of China (ROC) and formerly called Formosa, Taiwan is an independent island just off the eastcoast of mainland China.
Austronesians moved in 6000 years ago and their ancestors later populated Southeast Asia and Polynesia. But some scolars think it may have been the other way around.
In 1624 the Dutch East India Company claimed the island by building fort Zeelandia and by 1642 the Dutch had driven out their Spanish competitors in the north and had brought in scores of Han chinese from the mainland. Their monopoly did not last as they were defeated in 1662 by Koxinga, a Ming general with Japanese roots.
Later that century the island was conquered by the Chinese Qing dynasty. Chinese rule lasted til 1895 when the Japanes empire took control. Taiwan became part of China again after the Japanese capitulation in 1945.
General Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang fled to the island in 1949 after they were defeated by Mao Zhedong's Red Army. Taipei was declared the temporary capital of the ROC.
The Taiwan Miracle started in the 1960's and made Taiwan a prosperous and thriving country.
Relations with China remain strained as both parties claim sovereignty over the other one's territory.
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