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Introduction

Background

First inhabited by Austronesian people, Taiwan became home to Han immigrants beginning in the late Ming Dynasty (17th century). In 1895, military defeat forced China's Qing Dynasty to cede Taiwan to Japan, which then governed Taiwan for 50 years. Taiwan came under Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang, KMT) control after World War II. With the communist victory in the Chinese civil war in 1949, the Nationalist-controlled Republic of China government and 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and continued to claim to be the legitimate government for mainland China and Taiwan based on a 1947 constitution drawn up for all of China. Until 1987, however, the Nationalist Government ruled Taiwan under a civil war martial law declaration dating to 1948. Beginning in the 1970s, Nationalist authorities gradually began to incorporate the native population into the governing structure beyond the local level. The democratization process expanded rapidly in the 1980s, leading to the then illegal founding of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan’s first opposition party, in 1986 and the lifting of martial law the following year. Taiwan held legislative elections in 1992, the first in over forty years, and its first direct presidential election in 1996. In the 2000 presidential elections, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power with the KMT loss to the DPP and afterwards experienced two additional democratic transfers of power in 2008 and 2016. Throughout this period, the island prospered, became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers," and after 2000 became a major investor in mainland China as cross-Strait ties matured. The dominant political issues continue to be economic reform and growth as well as management of sensitive relations between Taiwan and China.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Eastern Asia, islands bordering the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait, north of the Philippines, off the southeastern coast of China

Geographic coordinates

23 30 N, 121 00 E

Map references

Southeast Asia

Area

total: 35,980 sq km

land: 32,260 sq km

water: 3,720 sq km

note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Kinmen islands

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Coastline

1,566.3 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); persistent and extensive cloudiness all year

Terrain

eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west

Elevation

highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m

lowest point: South China Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 1,150 m

Natural resources

small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, asbestos, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 22.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 16.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 5.8% (2018 est.)

other: 77.3% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,820 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

distribution exhibits a peripheral coastal settlement pattern, with the largest populations on the north and west coasts

Natural hazards

earthquakes; typhoons

volcanism: Kueishantao Island (401 m), east of Taiwan, is its only historically active volcano, although it has not erupted in centuries

Geography - note

strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait

People and Society

Population

23,580,712 (2022 est.)

Nationality

noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)

adjective: Taiwan (or Taiwanese)

note: example - he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan

Ethnic groups

Han Chinese (including Holo, who compose approximately 70% of Taiwan's population, Hakka, and other groups originating in mainland China) more than 95%, indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples 2.3%

note 1: there are 16 officially recognized indigenous groups: Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Hla'alua, Kanakaravu, Kavalan, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Sakizaya, Seediq, Thao, Truku, Tsou, and Yami; Amis, Paiwan, and Atayal are the largest and account for roughly 70% of the indigenous population

note 2: although not definitive, the majority of current genetic, archeological, and linguistic data support the theory that Taiwan is the ultimate source for the spread of humans across the Pacific to Polynesia; the expansion (ca. 3000 B.C. to A.D. 1200) took place via the Philippines and eastern Indonesia and reached Fiji and Tonga by about 900 B.C.; from there voyagers spread across the rest of the Pacific islands over the next two millennia

Languages

Mandarin (official), Taiwanese (Min Nan), Hakka dialects, approximately 16 indigenous languages

major-language sample(s):
世界概況  –  不可缺少的基本消息來源 (Mandarin)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Mandarin audio sample:

Religions

Buddhist 35.3%, Taoist 33.2%, Christian 3.9%, folk religion (includes Confucian) approximately 10%, none or unspecified 18.2% (2005 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 12.42% (male 1,504,704/female 1,426,494)

15-24 years: 11.62% (male 1,403,117/female 1,339,535)

25-54 years: 45.51% (male 5,351,951/female 5,389,112)

55-64 years: 14.73% (male 1,698,555/female 1,778,529)

65 years and over: 15.72% (male 1,681,476/female 2,029,576) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 40

youth dependency ratio: 17.8

elderly dependency ratio: 22.2

potential support ratio: 4.5 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 42.3 years

male: 41.5 years

female: 43.1 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.04% (2022 est.)

Birth rate

7.39 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Death rate

7.89 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Net migration rate

0.85 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Population distribution

distribution exhibits a peripheral coastal settlement pattern, with the largest populations on the north and west coasts

Urbanization

urban population: 79.7% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 0.65% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

4.471 million New Taipei City, 2.742 million TAIPEI (capital), 2.296 million Taoyuan, 1.547 million Kaohsiung, 1.354 million Taichung, 863,000 Tainan (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.97 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 4.29 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.16 years

male: 78.17 years

female: 84.34 years (2022 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.08 children born/woman (2022 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

75.2% (2016)

note: percent of women aged 20-52

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 98.5%

male: 99.7%

female: 97.3% (2014)

Environment

Environment - current issues

air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal

Climate

tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); persistent and extensive cloudiness all year

Land use

agricultural land: 22.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 16.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 5.8% (2018 est.)

other: 77.3% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 79.7% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 0.65% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 7.336 million tons (2015 est.)

Total renewable water resources

67 cubic meters (2011)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Taiwan

local long form: none

local short form: Taiwan

former: Formosa

etymology: "Tayowan" was the name of the coastal sandbank where the Dutch erected their colonial headquarters on the island in the 17th century; the former name "Formosa" means "beautiful" in Portuguese

Government type

semi-presidential republic

Capital

name: Taipei

geographic coordinates: 25 02 N, 121 31 E

time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the Chinese meaning is "Northern Taiwan," reflecting the city's position in the far north of the island

Administrative divisions

includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China's Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 13 counties (xian, singular and plural), 3 cities (shi, singular and plural), and 6 special municipalities directly under the jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan

counties: Changhua, Chiayi, Hsinchu, Hualien, Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taitung, Yilan, Yunlin

cities: Chiayi, Hsinchu, Keelung

special municipalities: Kaohsiung (city), New Taipei (city), Taichung (city), Tainan (city), Taipei (city), Taoyuan (city)



note: Taiwan uses a variety of romanization systems; while a modified Wade-Giles system still dominates, the city of Taipei has adopted a Pinyin romanization for street and place names within its boundaries; other local authorities use different romanization systems

National holiday

Republic Day (National Day), 10 October (1911); note - celebrates the anniversary of the Chinese Revolution, also known as Double Ten (10-10) Day

Constitution

history: previous 1912, 1931; latest adopted 25 December 1946, promulgated 1 January 1947, effective 25 December 1947

amendments: proposed by at least one fourth of the Legislative Yuan membership; passage requires approval by at least three-fourths majority vote of at least three fourths of the Legislative Yuan membership and approval in a referendum by more than half of eligible voters; revised several times, last in 2005

Legal system

civil law system

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Taiwan

dual citizenship recognized: yes, except that citizens of Taiwan are not recognized as dual citizens of the People's Republic of China

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

20 years of age; universal; note - in March 2022, the Legislative Yuan approved lowering the voting age to 18, but the change will require a constitutional amendment that must be submitted to a referendum

Executive branch

chief of state: President TSAI Ing-wen (since 20 May 2016); Vice President LAI Ching-te (since 20 May 2020)

head of government: Premier SU Tseng-chang (President of the Executive Yuan) (since 11 January 2019); Vice Premier SHEN Jong-chin (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) (since 19 June 2020)

cabinet: Executive Yuan - ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier

elections/appointments: president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 11 January 2020 (next to be held on 11 January 2024); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier

election results: 2020: TSAI Ing-wen elected president; percent of vote - TSAI Ing-wen (DPP) 57.1%, HAN Kuo-yu (KMT) 38.6%, James SOONG (PFP) 4.2%; note - TSAI is the first woman elected president of Taiwan

2016: TSAI Ing-wen elected president; percent of vote - TSAI Ing-wen (DPP) 56.1%, Eric CHU (KMT) 31%, James SOONG (PFP) 12.8%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats; 73 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 34 directly elected in a single island-wide constituency by proportional representation vote, and 6 directly elected in multi-seat aboriginal constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 11 January 2020 (next to be held on 11 January 2024)

election results: percent of vote by party - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 34.0%, Kuomintang (KMT) 33.4%, Taiwan People's Party (TPP) 11.2%, New Power Party (NPP) 7.5%; seats by party - DPP 61, KMT 38, TPP 5, NPP 3; composition as of early 2020 - men 64, women 48, percent of women 42.5%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the court president, vice president, and approximately 100 judges organized into 8 civil and 12 criminal divisions, each with a division chief justice and 4 associate justices); Constitutional Court (consists of the court president, vice president, and 13 justices)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court justices appointed by the president; Constitutional Court justices appointed by the president, with approval of the Legislative Yuan; Supreme Court justices serve for life; Constitutional Court justices appointed for 8-year terms, with half the membership renewed every 4 years

subordinate courts: high courts; district courts; hierarchy of administrative courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [vacant; TSAI Ing-wen resigned Nov 2022]
Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [Eric CHU Chi-luan]
New Power Party or NPP [CHEN Jiau-hua]
People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
Taiwan People's Party or TPP [KO Wen-je]
Taiwan Statebuilding Party or TSP [CHEN Yi-chi]

note: the DPP and the KMT are the two major political parties; there are hundreds of registered minor parties

International organization participation

ADB (Taipei, China), APEC (Chinese Taipei), BCIE, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), SICA (observer), WTO (Taipei, China);

note - separate customs territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: none; commercial and cultural relations with its citizens in the US are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts, represented by HSIAO Bi-khim (since 20 July 2020); office: 4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016; telephone: [1] (202) 895-1800

Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (branch offices): Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver (CO), Houston, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: the US does not have an embassy in Taiwan; commercial and cultural relations with the people of Taiwan are maintained through an unofficial instrumentality, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation that performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts; it is managed by Director Sandra OUDKIRK (since July 2021)

mailing address: 4170 AIT Taipei Place, Washington DC  20521-4170

telephone: [886] 2-2162-2000

FAX: [886] 2-2162-2251

email address and website:
TaipeiACS@state.gov

https://www.ait.org.tw/

branch office(s): American Institute in Taiwan
No. 100, Jinhu Road,
Neihu District 11461, Taipei City

other offices: Kaohsiung (Branch Office)

Flag description

red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays; the blue and white design of the canton (symbolizing the sun of progress) dates to 1895; it was later adopted as the flag of the Kuomintang Party; blue signifies liberty, justice, and democracy, red stands for fraternity, sacrifice, and nationalism, and white represents equality, frankness, and the people's livelihood; the 12 rays of the sun are those of the months and the twelve traditional Chinese hours (each ray equals two hours)

note: similar to the flag of Samoa

National symbol(s)

white, 12-rayed sun on blue field; national colors: blue, white, red

National anthem

name: "Zhonghua Minguo guoge" (National Anthem of the Republic of China)

lyrics/music: HU Han-min, TAI Chi-t'ao, and LIAO Chung-k'ai/CHENG Mao-yun

note: adopted 1930; also the song of the Kuomintang Party; it is informally known as "San Min Chu I" or "San Min Zhu Yi" (Three Principles of the People); because of political pressure from China, "Guo Qi Ge" (National Banner Song) is used at international events rather than the official anthem of Taiwan; the "National Banner Song" has gained popularity in Taiwan and is commonly used during flag raisings

Economy

Economic overview

Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy that is driven largely by industrial manufacturing, and especially exports of electronics, machinery, and petrochemicals. This heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to fluctuations in global demand. Taiwan's diplomatic isolation, low birth rate, rapidly aging population, and increasing competition from China and other Asia Pacific markets are other major long-term challenges.

 

Following the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed with China in June 2010, Taiwan in July 2013 signed a free trade deal with New Zealand - Taipei’s first-ever with a country with which it does not maintain diplomatic relations - and, in November of that year, inked a trade pact with Singapore. However, follow-on components of the ECFA, including a signed agreement on trade in services and negotiations on trade in goods and dispute resolution, have stalled. In early 2014, the government bowed to public demand and proposed a new law governing the oversight of cross-Strait agreements, before any additional deals with China are implemented; the legislature has yet to vote on such legislation, leaving the future of ECFA uncertain. President TSAI since taking office in May 2016 has promoted greater economic integration with South and Southeast Asia through the New Southbound Policy initiative and has also expressed interest in Taiwan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as bilateral trade deals with partners such as the US. These overtures have likely played a role in increasing Taiwan’s total exports, which rose 11% during the first half of 2017, buoyed by strong demand for semiconductors.

 

Taiwan's total fertility rate of just over one child per woman is among the lowest in the world, raising the prospect of future labor shortages, falling domestic demand, and declining tax revenues. Taiwan's population is aging quickly, with the number of people over 65 expected to account for nearly 20% of the island's total population by 2025.

 

The island runs a trade surplus with many economies, including China and the US, and its foreign reserves are the world's fifth largest, behind those of China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland. In 2006, China overtook the US to become Taiwan's second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is also the island's number one destination for foreign direct investment. Taiwan since 2009 has gradually loosened rules governing Chinese investment and has also secured greater market access for its investors on the mainland. In August 2012, the Taiwan Central Bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cross-Strait currency settlement with its Chinese counterpart. The MOU allows for the direct settlement of Chinese renminbi (RMB) and the New Taiwan dollar across the Strait, which has helped Taiwan develop into a local RMB hub.

 

Closer economic links with the mainland bring opportunities for Taiwan’s economy but also pose challenges as political differences remain unresolved and China’s economic growth is slowing. President TSAI’s administration has made little progress on the domestic economic issues that loomed large when she was elected, including concerns about stagnant wages, high housing prices, youth unemployment, job security, and financial security in retirement. TSAI has made more progress on boosting trade with South and Southeast Asia, which may help insulate Taiwan’s economy from a fall in mainland demand should China’s growth slow in 2018.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1,143,277,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,113,126,000,000 (2018 est.)

$1,083,384,000,000 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Real GDP growth rate

2.71% (2019 est.)

2.75% (2018 est.)

3.31% (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$24,502 (2018 est.)

$50,500 (2017 est.)

$23,865 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$611.391 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.5% (2019 est.)

1.3% (2018 est.)

0.6% (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AA- (2016)

Moody's rating: Aa3 (1994)

Standard & Poors rating: AA- (2002)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 36% (2017 est.)

services: 62.1% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 53% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14.1% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 65.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -52.6% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, vegetables, pork, cabbages, poultry, sugar cane, milk, eggs, pineapples, tropical fruit

Industries

electronics, communications and information technology products, petroleum refining, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals

Labor force

11.498 million (2020 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 4.9%

industry: 35.9%

services: 59.2% (2016 est.)

Unemployment rate

3.73% (2019 est.)

3.69% (2018 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 6.4% (2010)

highest 10%: 40.3% (2010)

Budget

revenues: 91.62 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 92.03 billion (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

35.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

36.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data for central government

Taxes and other revenues

16% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$65.173 billion (2019 est.)

$70.843 billion (2018 est.)

Exports

$388.49 billion (2019 est.)

$383.484 billion (2018 est.)

$382.736 billion (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

China 26%, United States 14%, Hong Kong 12%, Japan 7%, Singapore 7%, South Korea 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

integrated circuits, office machinery/parts, computers, refined petroleum, liquid crystal displays (2019)

Imports

$308.744 billion (2019 est.)

$305.428 billion (2018 est.)

$303.067 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

China 21%, Japan 16%, United States 11%, South Korea 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

integrated circuits, crude petroleum, photography equipment, natural gas, refined petroleum (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$456.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$439 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt - external

$189.684 billion (2019 est.)

$196.276 billion (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar -

28.211 (2020 est.)

30.472 (2019 est.)

30.8395 (2018 est.)

31.911 (2014 est.)

30.363 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 57.738 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 269,570,325,000 kWh (2020 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 9.484 billion kWh (2020 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 82.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 11.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 2.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 2.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 1.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 5.955 million metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 67.985 million metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 118,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 63.523 million metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 1 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 800 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 998,100 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 886,200 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 2.4 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

924,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

349,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

418,300 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas

production: 150.589 million cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 22,002,493,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 22,172,507,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 6.23 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

279.206 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 141.445 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 92.207 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 45.554 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Energy consumption per capita

160.669 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 12,971,900 (2019 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 55 (2019 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 29,291,500 (2019)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 123.21 (2019)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Taiwan has a highly developed telecoms sector in both the fixed-line and mobile segments; in part this is due to the country’s early moves to liberalize the market, allowing vigorous competition to flourish; the government has also made concerted efforts to take advantage of Taiwan’s strengths in the development of high-tech, export-oriented industries to encourage and enable the rapid adoption of advanced telecom platforms, while simultaneously leveraging the same telecoms infrastructure to push even further ahead with the country's industrial development plans; Taiwan has one of the highest teledensities in the region; while fixed-line subscriber numbers are trending downwards, the rate of decline has been slowed by the major fixed-line provider investing strongly in building out a widespread fiber network to allow customers to maintain a terrestrial voice connection as part of a fixed broadband package; fiber is the dominant platform in Taiwan’s fixed broadband market; cable services have retained an unusually strong following thanks to the success of cable providers in delivering competitive cable TV and telephony services as a way to get around Chunghwa Telecom’s control of the last mile for its copper and fiber networks; Taiwan also has high penetration rates in its mobile and mobile broadband segments, growth in both markets is almost at a standstill because the country reached 100% penetration very early on – way back when GSM was first introduced, in mobile’s case; the MNOs moved quickly to roll out 4G and 5G networks and services in rapid succession, but subscriber numbers (and market share) has barely changed; the improved quality and performance available with the new platforms will drive increased usage and ARPU; fierce competition following the launch of 4G saw the opposite happen, with price wars causing telco revenues to fall instead; it is possible that the same problem can be avoided with 5G allowing Taiwan to reach the target of 50% of subscribers on 5G by mid-2023 (2022)

domestic: fixed-line over 53 per 100 and mobile-cellular roughly 123 per 100 (2020)

international: country code - 886; landing points for the EAC-C2C, APCN-2, FASTER, SJC2, TSE-1, TPE, APG, SeaMeWe-3, FLAG North Asia Loop/REACH North Asia Loop, HKA, NCP, and PLCN submarine fiber cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

5 nationwide television networks operating roughly 22 TV stations; more than 300 satellite TV channels are available; about 60% of households utilize multi-channel cable TV; 99.9% of households subscribe to digital cable TV; national and regional radio networks with about 171 radio stations (2019)

Internet users

total: 21,158,750 (2019 est.)

percent of population: 89% (2019 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 5,831,470 (2019 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 25 (2019 est.)

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 7 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 216

Airports

total: 37 (2021)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 35

over 3,047 m: 8

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 10

914 to 1,523 m: 8

under 914 m: 2 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2021)

Heliports

31 (2021)

Pipelines

25 km condensate, 2,200 km gas, 13,500 km oil (2018)

Railways

total: 1,613.1 km (2018)

standard gauge: 345 km (2018) 1.435-m gauge (345 km electrified)

narrow gauge: 1,118.1 km (2018) 1.067-m gauge (793.9 km electrified)

150 0.762-m gauge note: the 0.762-gauge track belongs to three entities: the Forestry Bureau, Taiwan Cement, and TaiPower

Roadways

total: 43,206 km (2017)

paved: 42,793 km (2017) (includes 1,348 km of highways and 737 km of expressways)

unpaved: 413 km (2017)

Merchant marine

total: 429

by type: bulk carrier 37, container ship 49, general cargo 57, oil tanker 33, other 253 (2021)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Keelung (Chi-lung), Kaohsiung, Hualian, Taichung

container port(s) (TEUs): Kaohsiung (10,428,634), Taichung (1,793,966), Taipei (1,620,392) (2019)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Yung An (Kaohsiung), Taichung

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Taiwan Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force; Taiwan Coast Guard Administration (a law enforcement organization with homeland security functions during peacetime and national defense missions during wartime); Ministry of Interior: National Police (2022)

Military expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2022 est.)

2.1% of GDP (2021)

2.1% of GDP (2020)

1.8% of GDP (2019) (approximately $23.6 billion)

1.7% of GDP (2018) (approximately $21.9 billion)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 170,000 active duty troops (90,000 Army; 40,000 Navy, including approximately 10,000 marines; 40,000 Air Force) (2022)

note: Taiwan trains about 120,000 reservists annually, but in 2022 announced intentions to increase that figure to 260,000

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Taiwan military is armed mostly with second-hand weapons and equipment provided by the US; since 2010, the US has continued to be the largest provider of arms; Taiwan also has a domestic defense industry capable of building and upgrading a range of weapons systems, including surface ships and submarines (2022)

Military service age and obligation

starting with those born in 1994, men 18-36 years of age may volunteer for military service or must complete 4 months of compulsory military training (5 weeks of basic training followed by 11 weeks of specialized training with field units); civil service can be substituted for military service in some cases; men born before December 1993 are required to complete compulsory service for 12 months (military or civil); men are subject to training recalls up to four times for periods not to exceed 20 days for 8 years after discharge; women may enlist but are restricted to noncombat roles in most cases; as part of its transition to an all-volunteer military, the last cohort of 12-month military conscripts completed their service obligations in December 2018 (2022)

note: as of 2021, women made up about 15% of the active duty military

Military - note

the US Taiwan Relations Act of April 1979 states that the US shall provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and shall maintain the capacity of the US to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan (2022)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Taiwan-Brunei-China-Malaysia-Philippines-Vietnam: involved in complex dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea that are thought to have large oil and natural gas reserves, as well as being located amidst prime fishing grounds and busy commercial shipping traffic; the Spratly Islands also are in a strategic position for establishing a military presence to monitor activity in the South China Sea; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants

Taiwan-China-Philippines: border dispute over the Scarborough Reef in the South China Sea; Scarborough Reef, like the Spratly Islands, is strategically located and is surrounded by abundant fishing grounds; it may also be ripe for oil and natural gas exploration

Taiwan-China-Vietnam: the Paracel Islands are occupied by China but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam

Taiwan-Japan-China: in 2003, China and Taiwan became more vocal in rejecting both Japan's claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan's unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea where all parties engage in hydrocarbon prospecting; Senkaku-shoto is situated near key shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds, and possibly significant oil and natural gas reserves

Illicit drugs

major source of precursor chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics