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TaiwanTaiwan's 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 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 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.

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 traditions.

Information for Taiwan was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks