History of Taiwan
History of the island of Taiwan / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The history of the island of Taiwan dates back tens of thousands of years to the earliest known evidence of human habitation. The sudden appearance of a culture based on agriculture around 3000 BC is believed to reflect the arrival of the ancestors of today's Taiwanese indigenous peoples. From the late 13th to early 17th centuries, Han Chinese gradually came into contact with Taiwan and started settling there. Named Formosa by Portuguese explorers, the south of the island was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century whilst the Spanish built a settlement in the north which lasted until 1642. These European settlements were followed by an influx of Hoklo and Hakka immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong across the Taiwan Strait.
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In 1662, Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming dynasty who had lost control of mainland China in 1644, defeated the Dutch and established a base of operations on the island. His descendants were defeated by the Qing dynasty in 1683 and their territory in Taiwan was annexed by the Qing dynasty. Over the two centuries of Qing rule, Taiwan's population increased by over two million and became majority Han Chinese due to illegal cross-strait migrations from mainland China despite official quarantine policies prohibiting entering Taiwan and encroachment on Taiwanese indigenous territory. Due to the continued expansion of Chinese settlements, Qing governed territory in Taiwan eventually encompassed the entire western plains and the northeast by the end of its rule. The Qing ceded Taiwan and Penghu to the Empire of Japan after losing the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. Taiwan experienced industrial growth and became a productive rice and sugar exporting Japanese colony. During the Second Sino-Japanese War it served as a base for launching invasions of China, and later Southeast Asia and the Pacific during World War II. Japanese imperial education was implemented in Taiwan and many Taiwanese fought for Japan in the last years of the war.
In 1945, following the end of hostilities in World War II, the nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang (KMT), took control of Taiwan. The legality and nature of its control of Taiwan, including transfer of sovereignty is debated, with the United States and United Kingdom saying there was no transfer of sovereignty. In 1949, after losing control of mainland China in the Chinese Civil War, the ROC government under the KMT withdrew to Taiwan where Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law. The KMT ruled Taiwan (along with the islands of Kinmen, Wuqiu and the Matsu on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait) as a single-party state for forty years until democratic reforms in the 1980s. The first-ever direct presidential election was held in 1996. During the post-war period, Taiwan experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth known as the "Taiwan Miracle", and was known as one of the "Four Asian Tigers".