15,000 B.C. -1550
There is evidence of human settlement in Taiwan dating as far back as 30, 000–40, 000 years ago.
Taiwan settled by people of Malay-Polynesian descent and named "Pakan."
For most of history, China seemed mostly not concerned with Taiwan. Early Chinese texts from as far back as AD 206 contain references to the island, but for the most part it was seen as a savage island, best left alone.
China believed the Island was full of savages until the early 1400s. Boatloads of immigrants from China’s Fujian province arrived in Taiwan at this time. These people were unhappy with the political troubles in their homeland.
Hakka, another ethnic group in China left the mainland for Taiwan in great numbers.
By the early 1500s there were three groups of people on the island: Hakka, Fujianese and the aboriginal tribes.
The people in Taiwan today are mainly descended from these early Chinese immigrants
The Island is named and Trade Begins 1544- 1662
Taiwan is covered by the lush plains, rugged mountains and rocky coasts. The Portuguese named Taiwan Ilha Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful island’.
Dutch East India Company sets up trading base on the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait.
China’s Ming court suddenly and took notice of Taiwan. The Ming government sent the army and made laws to ban trade ships in order to kick the Dutch out. The Dutch left Penghu and then letter returned to establish a trading port in what is now known as Makung City. The Ming court gave in.
Spain invaded Taiwan in 1626 and took control of a large portion of the coast line. They tried to compete with the Dutch trade, but failed because of natural disasters and trouble with the aborigine people.
After Spain retreats the Dutch take control of Keelung in 1642.
Taiwan under Cheng and Qing 1662-1894
Cheng Chen-kung (also known as Koxinga), a general from China's Ming Dynasty, invaded and took control of the island of Taiwan. The Dutch surrendered to Cheng in 1662 and left for good.
His dreams of overthrowing the Manchu remained unfulfilled; he died a year after landing on Taiwan.
Many Taiwanese today regard Cheng as a hero for driving the Dutch out of Taiwan.
With Cheng came 30, 000 mainland Chinese people who established Taiwan island as their home. Others followed for the next 200 years. Taiwan’s growing population quickly developed the Island. Especially in the north and along the fertile plains of the west coast. Cheng set up an efficient system of counties, some of which remain today in order to manage Taiwan’s fast growth.
After Cheng’s death, his son and grandson ruled the island but they were poor leaders and this caused a lot of poverty and despair.
The Qing government overthrew Cheng’s relatives and took over the island. It was now under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. Taiwan was again mostly ignored by China.
Europeans took advantage of its strategic location and Taiwan was opened to trade with the West in Keelung and Suao. The southern ports of Kaohsiung and Tainan were also opened. Foreign trade increased rapidly, with Taiwan’s main exports being camphor, rice, tea and opium.
In 1894 war broke out between Japan and China over the Japanese invasion of Korea. China’s untrained and weak navy could not beat Japan’s modern fleet, and in 1895 China was forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Shimonoseki which ceded the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago to Japan.
Taiwan Governor Tang Ching-sung declares Taiwan to be independent
This did not deter Japan. They quickly took over the North portion of the island including the ex-Qing governor’s office in Taipei. Control over the rest of the island took some time. The Japanese met strong resistance as they moved further south. Employing over a third of its army in Taiwan, the Japanese eventually overcame the Taiwanese who’d confronted the modern weapons of the invaders with bamboo spears and outdated weapons.
During the first months that the Japanese ruled, over 10, 000 Taiwanese soldiers and civilians lost their lives.
Once the Japanese believed that they had things under control, they set out to modernize the island. They built highways and railways to improve trade and to access the entire island. They also built hospitals, schools and government buildings so that they could improve the infrastructure of the island.
Even with these improvements, the Japanese rule was harsh, with brutal crackdowns on political dissent.
In October of 1911, a group of revolutionaries in southern China led a successful revolt against the Qing Dynasty.
The National Day of the Republic of China also referred to as Double Ten Day or Double Tenth Day is the national day of the Republic of China (ROC).
On January 1, 1912, Dr. Sun Yat-sen proclaims the founding of the Republic of China (ROC).
From the creation of the ROC in 1912 until the defeat of Japan in 1945, Taiwan remained firmly in Japanese hands.
During these years Political Parties are formed in China.
August 1912 Dr. Sun's China’s Nationalist party, Kuomintang (KMT)
July 1921 The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is officially founded.
On October 25th 1945 Japan was defeated in WWII. They were was forced to relinquish all overseas possessions. Taiwan, now a spoil of war, was handed over to the ROC.
The Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek established their government in 1949, after the mainland fell to the Communists. Chiang served as president until his death in 1975.
Chiang made a series of policies that successfully laid the foundation for Taiwan’s future economic success. He said his government was 'Free China". He based his rule on the democratic ideals of Sun Yat-sen, but Chiang’s Taiwan was no where near free. Economic development and growth was successful but Chiang destroyed anyone who showed unhappy feelings with the government. In the 1950s it was a scary time. People would disappeared if they spoke against the government.
Martial law was put on Taiwan in 1949 because the KMT considered their stay temporary. [Martial Law is: The exercise of government and control by military authorities over the civilian population of a designated territory.] They planned to take over mainland China and return home. This attitude was not welcomed by the native Taiwanese, who complained that the KMT didn't do a good job developing Taiwan.
Over time the KMT and native Taiwanese began to relax and work better towards a strong country.
With the passing of time, economic success, and a reduction of tensions with the PRC, the regime gradually eased its rule.
Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, his son, Chiang Ching-kuo took over. The younger Chiang’s was a kinder ruler. He wanted to improve relations with native Taiwanese, Chiang allowed the Taiwanese to take political positions. The late 1970s saw increasing political dissent in Taiwan.
After several major political problems and fights the Taiwan’s first opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was formed in 1986.
In 1987, Chiang Ching-kuo announced the end of martial law.
This legalized free speech, ended the ban on travel to the mainland, and permitted opposition parties to compete in elections for the National Assembly.
The following year, Chiang passed away.
Lee Teng-hui becomes Taiwan's first native-born president.
The years following Martial Law were difficult for Taiwan. They did not fit in with the rest of the world. Many times they fought with mainland China, but in 1998 China offered to lift the ban on shipping and direct flights. The idea of 'one China' is always a subject being discussed. By 2000 many did not trust Lee Teng-hui.
In 2000 Chen Shui-bian (DDP) won in a three-party race, ending 54 years of KMT rule in Taiwan.
Chen was re-elected in 2004, after a recount of the vote. Mainland China did not approve of Chen's pro-independence views. Chen's changed the country's official name to the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Politics are always on the minds of the people of Taiwan.
The Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, defeated the Democratic Progressive Party's Frank Hsieh in the presidential election of 2008. Ma took office as president, ending eight years of Democratic Progressive Party rule.
Ma was determined to improve relations with mainland China. For the first time since the Communists took control of the mainland in 1949, Taiwan and China established sea, air, and mail links. This caused a dramatic rise of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan. By spring of 2009, more than 4,500 Chinese visited Taiwan every day. Prior to this agreement only a few hundred a day visited.
In August 2009 a Typhoon (Morakot), devastates the southern part of the island. This was the deadliest one in the history of Taiwan. Morakot killed more than 600 people there was billions of dollars in damage.
The government was too slow to help! Prime Minister Liu Chao-shiuan resigned and he was replaced by Wu Den-yih.
In 2012, Wu ran for vice president under President Ma, during Ma's successful re-election bid.
The election of Ma and Wu helped finalize the ties that had been growing between Taiwan and China.
After a Long History of fighting and disagreements trade between China and Taiwan has grown dramatically. Tourism and cultural exchanges are also improving.