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Facts About Taiwan

Little is known of Taiwan's earliest hisotry, but with the results of radiocarbon dating of primitive utensils it has been estimated that people have inhabited Taiwan for at least 10,000 years. The first inhabitants of Taiwan were not Chinese at all - Taiwan has always been on the preiphery of the Chinese Empire and, although Chinese history dates back more than 3000 years, there was no significant Chinese migration to Taiwan until the 15th century. Taiwan's earliest inhabitants-these days simply known as 'aborigines' - probably migrated from the Pacific islands, as evidenced by their racial features which resemble those of the people of the nearby Philippines.

When the Chinese arrived in Taiwan, there were two distinct groups of aborigines. Onelived on the rich plains of central and southwestern Taiwan, and the other groupl live in the mountains.

The 17th Century:
Interestingly enough, the most comprehensive historical records on Taiwan go back some 350 years, to the period of the Dutch occupation, 1624-1662. When the Dutch East Indies Company arrived, they found only the aborigine population on the island: there were no signs of any administrative structure of the Chinese Imperial Government. Thus, at that time Taiwan was not "part of China".

Old map of Taiwan
Taiwan in the Dutch period

The Dutch brought in Chinese laborers as migrant workers. They usually came for a few years (without family) and then returned to mainland. Eventually, more settled, and married aborigine wives.

In 1662 Dutch were defeated by a Chinese pirate, Cheng Cheng-kung (Koxinga), a loyalist of the Ming dynasty, who himself was on the run from the newly established Ching dynasty. Cheng Cheng-kung himself died shortly afterwards, his son took over, but in 1683, this last remnant of the Ming Dynasty was defeated by the Ching troops.