The early inhabitants lived a communal life in the wildness. Their descendants, called aborigines these days, suffered from the Chinese arrivals. There were two groups of aborigines in Taiwan when the Chinese first arrived on this small island. One lived on the rich plains of western Taiwan, and the other lived in the mountains. Chinese immigrants occupied the rich plains and forced the aborigines into the remote mountain area. Those who were not driven into the mountain area assimilated into the rocky east coast. Many of them lived in slums and were forced into menial jobs in industry, mining, fishing or, prostituting by ancestors of the Taiwanese Han people.
The Dutch followed imperialism and invaded Taiwan in 1624. The Dutch established the first capital at Tainan in the south-west part of Taiwan. The Spanish took control of northern Taiwan in 1626. They were expelled by the Dutch in 1641.
Fort San Domingo, the notable historical site in northern Taiwan has a legacy of Spanish occupation from 1626 to 1641. The fort was built in 1629 and taken over by the Dutch when they expelled the Spanish.
Taiwan didn't resist the Dutch until Ming Dynasty supporters, running from the up-and-coming Ch'ing Dynasty, arrived. Cheng Chengkung arrived in Taiwan with 35,000 troops in 400 war junks and expelled the Dutch in 1661.
Cheng Chungkung failed to recapture mainland China from the Ch'ing Dynasty. Instead, the Ch'ing took over Taiwan in 1682.
Remote from Beijing, where Ch'ing's government was located, Taiwan didn't get much political attention even when Ch'ing claimed Taiwan as a part of the Chinese territory. This attitude resulted in the occupation of Taiwan by the Japanese.
Many Taiwanese residents objected to Japanese rule. They proclaimed an independent republic, but this was quickly and brutally crushed by the Japanese.
To prevent Taiwan's rebellion, Japan brought a harsh rule onto Taiwan. The Taiwanese were asked to learn Japanese and not their own languages.
It is said Japan contributed to Taiwan's economic development. The Japanese indeed built roads and improved agricultural development in Taiwan. However, it was for their own consideration and convenience. Japan could take advantage of Taiwanese resources more easily when Taiwan had more efficient transportation.
the February 28th Incident was a forbidden topic in Taiwan until 1987, when the martial law was lifted. The government later announced February 28th a National Day, and dedicated a park in Taipei city to the incident.
Chinese communists took over mainland China in 1949 and established the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.). The KMT, led by Chiang Kaishek, fled to Taiwan. About 1.5 million Chinese moved to Taiwan. The KMT thought they would soon recapture the mainland. They imposed martial law on Taiwan in 1949 and considered their stay temporary. This attitude was not welcomed by the native Taiwanese, who complained that the KMT didn't do a good job developing Taiwan.
In the 1950's, a land-reform program was introduced. In the 1960's, rapid industrialization brought Taiwan wealth. The subsequent successful economic development during the past four decades is known as "Taiwan's miracle."
Although enjoying successful economic development, Taiwan has suffered diplomatic difficulties. Communist China took over as the Chinese representative to the United Nations in 1971. The United States recognized the P.R.C in 1979 and severed diplomatic relation with R.O.C. (Taiwan). Since then, Taiwan has taken advantage of its strong economic position to keep its foreign relations.
Chiang Kaishek died in 1975. His influence was quite extensive in Taiwan. Taiwan's international airport is named after him. "Chiang Kaishek Memorial Hall" is a notable Taipei tourism spot. Chiang's son, Chiang Chingkuo became president after Chiang Kaishek. In 1986, the KMT's liberalization and the formation of the first opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), took Taiwan from an authoritarian system into a more democratic system.
The martial law was lifted in 1987 by Chiang Chingkuo. He died in 1988 and was succeeded by the native Taiwanese Lee Tenghui.Lee Tenghui is still president of Taiwan. He is also the chairman of the KMT.