Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. The island of Taiwan has an area of 35,808 square kilometres (13,826 sq mi), with mountain ranges dominating the eastern two thirds and plains in the western third, where its highly urbanised population is concentrated. Taipei is the capital and largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Taoyuan. With 23.5 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated states, and is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN). Taiwanese indigenous peoples inhabited the island of Taiwan for thousands of years before the 17th century, when Dutch rule opened the island to mass Han immigration. After a brief rule by the Kingdom of Tungning, the island was annexed in 1683 by the Qing dynasty of China, and ceded to the Empire of Japan in 1895. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Republic of China, which had overthrown and succeeded the Qing in 1911, took control of Taiwan on behalf of the World War II Allies. The resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the loss of the mainland to the Communist Party of China and the flight of the ROC government to Taiwan in 1949. Although the ROC government continued to claim to be the legitimate representative of China, since 1950 its effective jurisdiction has been limited to Taiwan and several small islands. In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic growth and industrialization called the "Taiwan Miracle". In the 1980s and early 1990s, the ROC changed from a one-party military dictatorship to a multi-party democracy with a semi-presidential system. Taiwan is a high-income country with a skilled and educated workforce. Its export-oriented industrial economy is the 21st-largest in the world, with sectors including steel, machinery, electronics and chemicals manufacturing. The state is ranked highly in terms of civil and political liberties, education, health care and human development. The political status of Taiwan remains uncertain. As a founding member, the ROC represented China in the UN until the PRC replaced it in 1971. The PRC has consistently claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and refused diplomatic relations with any country that recognises the ROC. Taiwan maintains official ties with 16 out of 193 UN member states. Most international organisations in which the PRC participates either refuse to grant membership to Taiwan or allow it to participate only as a non-state actor. Nevertheless, most major powers maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan through representative offices and institutions that function as de facto embassies and consulates. Domestically, the major political division is between parties favouring eventual Chinese unification and promoting a Chinese identity contrasted with those aspiring to independence and promoting Taiwanese identity, although both sides have moderated their positions to broaden their appeal.
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