Destinations » Asia » Far East »
official name is the "Republic of China," but the island is called "Taiwan"
and most foreigners also refer to the political entity as Taiwan. The name Taiwan
comes from the name of an islet, "Tayouan," which was named by the indigenous
people. The Dutch then used this name in reference to the entire island.
The official name of the country in English is China, but in the local language
the word for their country is Zhongguo (which is the same name used in
the Peoples Democratic Republic of China). This name has been used for over
2,500 years and was originally used in reference to the people in general. It was
essentially used to distinguish the people of the region from the so called barbarians
of neighboring countries, but was not used to refer to the political entity until
the 1800s. The English word "China" comes via Persia and is likely named
after the Qin Dynasty.
Taiwan's culture is heavily based on Chinese culture as many of the people are
ethnic Chinese. However, since the communists took power in mainland China, the
Taiwanese and mainland Chinese cultures have been growing more distinct. At the
same time the communists took power in mainland China, Taiwan was taken over by
the Chinese Nationalists fleeing the mainland, creating a culture that is similar
to today's China, but the vast political differences have given Taiwan a very
Taiwanese culture began with the local people who have lived on the island for thousands
of years. These people lived off the land and the seas, but their culture has been
nearly destroyed by the later arriving Chinese. Today these people still exist to
some degree, but they make up such a small percentage of the people their culture
is nearly lost.
Taiwan's flag includes the sun of
progress, which was also the flag of the Kuomintang Party (which fled mainland China
to Taiwan and still rules Taiwan). This flag has 12 rays to represent the 12 months
as well as the 12 traditional Chinese hours (each is two hours). The white of the
star represents equality, frankness, and the people's livelihood, the surrounding
blue is for liberty, justice, and democracy, and the red symbolizes fraternity,
sacrifice, and nationalism.
Name: Republic of China (Taiwan)
Independence: None; Republic Day October 10, 1911
Currency: Taiwan New Dollar
Population: 23,299,716 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Taiwanese & others
Religion: Buddhism & Taoism
In the mid-1600s the collapsing Ming Dynasty leadership fled to Taiwan and brought
with them their great past and their slowly dying culture. This introduced new architecture,
art, pottery, and a blossoming of the sciences. Since the dynasty was on verge of
collapse though the cultural significance and sustainability of these introductions
were limited. What it did do though was encourage larger immigration to the island
from China, again altering the culture to match historic Chinese culture.
Numerous aspects of Chinese culture were brought to Taiwan as education and the
sciences grew, Chinese foods, languages, philosophies, and dress were introduced
as was the Chinese mentality. The people and culture became a well-disciplined society
who honored respect and humility. Another important aspect of Chinese culture that
was brought to Taiwan was their need to "save face," something that again
came from honor and respect for others.
After the communists came to power in mainland China, the fleeing Nationalist government
made their way to Taiwan. The people of Taiwan accepted this government, and again
many people immigrated to the island with the government, leading to another wave
of Chinese immigration and a further solidification of Chinese culture in Taiwan.
As mainland China became a communist country, Taiwan became a democracy on paper,
although in reality their government was quite authoritarian.
Life in Taiwan took on a different path than that in China; religion was still allowed
and men meeting in temples to play games and gamble continued to be a common occurrence.
Family continues to be the center of personal lives and couples are allowed to have
more than one child as food is still the center of family and other social events
as eating always seems to be on the mind of locals.
Despite delays in receiving many of the world's modern technological achievements,
Taiwan today not only has most modern technology, but is also a huge center for
foreign investment, meaning they make much of this technology. This has changed
the culture as cars and public transportation are common and easily available as
the people are more urbanized and living in houses or high rise apartment buildings.
Cell phones and the internet, along with games are becoming a more substantial part
of the culture annually and new forms of communication is making the country more
social and connected, but at its core, Taiwanese culture is still rooted in Chinese
Learn More About Taiwan:
Map of Taiwan:
Start your trip to Taiwan with our free Travel Planner: