Taiwan, an island nation located off the coast of mainland China, has a history that goes back to the 17th century, when it was divided between settlements established by the Dutch, the Spanish, and the local Kingdom of Middag. In 1683, the mainland’s Qing Dynasty took possession of Taiwan (then known as the time as the island of Formosa – Portuguese for “beautiful island”).
As a result of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), Taiwan was taken over by the Japanese. By 1937, another conflict ensued between China and Japan – with the latter using Taiwan as a site to manufacture war materials, and an increasing number of Taiwanese natives being recruited into the Imperial Japanese Army.
During World War II, Japanese naval bases located in Taiwan were subjected to heavy bombing campaigns by American forces. After World War II (with Japan withdrawing from Taiwan), conflict between Communist forces and Nationalists (led by Chiang Kai-shek) resulted in the former taking full control of mainland China by 1949, while the latter retreated into Taiwan (making that country independent of mainland control as the “Republic of China”).
Taiwan’s path to capitalist development was encouraged by American economic aid during the 1950s & 1960s. In time, Taiwan became known as one of the four “Asian tiger” economies – alongside Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore (following export-oriented policies and strong development). Politically, Taiwan, in constant fear of an invasion by nearby Communist China, was under (anti-Communist) military rule until the late 1980s, when democratic reforms started to take shape in that country.
In recent times, tourism is started to be taken more seriously in Taiwan. The island nation lies on the western edge of the Pacific “rim of fire,” and continuous tectonic movements have created majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, basins, coastlines, and other natural landscapes. Taiwan’s tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate climates provide clear differentiation between the different seasons. In 2018, 11.06 million tourists visited Taiwan (generating US$11.9 billion in revenues), with visitors coming mainly from nearby China (including Hong Kong & Macau), Japan, South Korea and other Far East countries. There is still much room for growth in Taiwan’s tourism sector, especially from USA and European countries.