or Formosa is an island in East Asia, and, since
the Communist victory in 1949 on the Chinese mainland, the seat
of the Chinese Nationalist government is not recognized by the People's
Republic of China. It is disconnected from the Chinese mainland by
the Taiwan (Formosa) Strait, and it borders the
East China Sea on the north, the South China Sea on the south and the Pacific Ocean on the east.
It is in particular Taiwan's history with China
that has caused the most friction and heartache
for the Taiwanese. The never-ending tug-of-war between the People's
Republic of China on the mainland and the Democratic Progressive
Party in Taiwan is often prone to seem like a civil war,
though one that has not, as yet, developed into an all-out brawl.
Mainland China insists on the truth of 'one China' while Taiwan
has managed the impracticable tightrope act of agreeing, in principle,
to one China but acting, in practice, like an independent republic.
In addition to Taiwan, the nation includes the Pescadores,
the small Quemoy Islands off the mainland city
of Amoy (Xiamen), and the Matsu group off Fuzhou
(Foochow). The People's Republic of China asserts Taiwan as one
of the provinces of its republic. Taiwan has an area of approximately 36,000
sq kilometres and Taipei is its capital and the largest city.
Taiwan is a contemporary industrialised megalopolis clinging
to the fringes of an ancient way of life; a string of teeming cities
at the feet of a beautiful mountain range. It has
traditional noodles from a 7-Eleven, aboriginal tribes in mini-skirts
and a day of temple rituals followed by the waterslide rides.
If you travel outside the hectic Taipei, you will see why Taiwan
is known as Ilha Formosa, 'the beautiful island'.
Mountain peaks puncture a sea of clouds, slick black volcanic rock
wraps the coastlines and waterfalls shroud themselves in mist. Taiwan
is a computer-generated Chinese watercolour.