Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), is situated in the Pacific Ocean about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland. Located about midway between Korea and Japan to the north and Hong Kong and Philippines to the south, Taiwan is a natural gateway for travelers to and within Asia.
With a tropical climate, Taiwan is considered to be one of the most desirable tourist destinations in Asia. A blend of Chinese, Japanese and Western cultures. Taiwan boast skyscrapers and the latest technology in the capital city, Taipei. Around the active cities, Taiwan still holds true to its natural beauty width shrines and temples surrounded by mountains, river walks and small fishing villages.
The ROC's population is more than 23 millions, most of whom lives on the Island of Taiwan. About 98% of the population is of Han chinese ethnicity. Of these 86% are descendants of early Han immigration known as native Taiwanese. The principal city of Taiwan is Taipei, which since 1949 has been the provisional capital of ROC. Taipei has a population of more than 3 millions. Other big cities are Kaosiung and Taichung.
The main island of Taiwan, also known as Formosa (from Portuguese, meaning beautiful (island)) is shaped like a sweet potato and is 394 kilometers long (245 miles) and 144 kilometers (89.5 miles) wide at its broadest point. The Central Mountain Range bisects Formosa from north to south and about two-thirds of the island is covered with forested peaks. The rest of the island is made up of foothills, terraced flatlands, and coastal plains and basins. Taiwan includes Taiwan Island (Formosa), The Penghu Islands - a group of 64 islands, and 80 other smaller neighboring islands and islets.
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 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. In 1949 the People's Republic of China (PRC) was established. Taiwan is currently claimed by PRC, although PRC has never controlled Taiwan or any of the current ROC territories. The PRC justifies its claim by arguing that the PRC succeeded the ROC in 1949, and pointing out that the ROC had ruled Taiwan for four years from 1945 to 1949.