Location: Taiwan, off southeast coast of China and formerly known as Formosa, includes the island of Taiwan, two off-shore islands Quemoy and Matsu, and the nearby islets of the Pescadores chain.
History: Originally Taiwan and adjoining areas were Chinese territory. In 1950, Chiang Kai shek made Taiwan the headquarters of the Nationalist Republic of China. Although Taiwan still claims to be the legal government of China it lost its membership in the UN and its permanent seat in the Security Council to Communist China in 1971. In 1987, martial law was lifted after 38 years and in 1991, the 43-year period of emergency rule ended. In May 1996, Lee Teng-Hui stormed to a resounding victory in the island's first direct presidential election.
According to an official source, Taipei wanted to be reunited with China, but not at present. Taiwan is interested in joining international organizations. In August 1999, China accused Taiwanese President Lee Teng-Hui of taking a 'dangerous' step towards splitting the country. Teng-Hui said 'One China' was possible but only under a democratic union with China's mainland. China threatened to invade Taiwan if the President's statehood call was made the official stand.
Agriculture: Economics: Taiwan has one of the world's strongest economies and is among the 10 leading capital exporters. Taiwan has foreign exchange reserves worth over $175 b.
The main agricultural products are rice, tea, sugar, sweet potatoes, bananas, jute and turmeric. Camphor secured from forest is a government monopoly.
Industries: Industries comprise iron works, glass, soap, textiles, clothing, electronics, chemicals, plastics and processed foods.
Minerals: Coal, marble, petroleum and natural gas are the principal minerals. Taiwan has made big progress in agriculture and industry and the living standards have gone high, as a result of land reform, government planning, free universal education and US aid and investment.
More than half a century of Nationalist Party rule ended when Opposition leader Chen Shui-Bian (Democratic Progressive Party) was elected in March 2000.