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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 today is heavily based on Chinese
culture as many of the people are ethnic Chinese. However, in more recent times,
as the communists took power in mainland China, the Taiwanese
were taken over by the Chinese Nationalists, creating a culture that is similar
to today's China, but the vast political differences have given Taiwan today
a very different culture.
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
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 arrived to
Taiwan and clung to their past as they brought with them their great, but
slowly dying culture. This brought 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 accepted this government, but again the greatest effect was that many
people immigrated 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. Like the people in mainland China, the Taiwanese
accepted their government without question as their mental state of respect prevented
the questioning of the government.
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 as socialization is shifting from family-centric to
friend-centric, but not ever abandoning the family itself.
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