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page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Taiwan
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Location of Taiwan
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of Taiwan
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Introduction ::Taiwan
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In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the local population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of Taiwan's eventual status - as well as domestic political and economic reform.
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Geography ::Taiwan
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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
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23 30 N, 121 00 E
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total: 35,980 sq km
country comparison to the world: 138
land: 32,260 sq km
water: 3,720 sq km
note: includes the Pescadores, Matsu, and Quemoy islands
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slightly smaller than Maryland and Delaware combined
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0 km
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1,566.3 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
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tropical; marine; rainy season during southwest monsoon (June to August); cloudiness is persistent and extensive all year
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eastern two-thirds mostly rugged mountains; flat to gently rolling plains in west
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lowest point: South China Sea 0 m
highest point: Yu Shan 3,952 m
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small deposits of coal, natural gas, limestone, marble, and asbestos
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arable land: 24%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 75% (2001)
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NA
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67 cu km (2000)
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earthquakes; typhoons
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air pollution; water pollution from industrial emissions, raw sewage; contamination of drinking water supplies; trade in endangered species; low-level radioactive waste disposal
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party to: none of the selected agreements because of Taiwan's international status
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strategic location adjacent to both the Taiwan Strait and the Luzon Strait
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People ::Taiwan
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22,974,347 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
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0-14 years: 16.7% (male 1,996,905/female 1,844,611)
15-64 years: 72.6% (male 8,416,300/female 8,267,675)
65 years and over: 10.7% (male 1,183,382/female 1,265,474) (2009 est.)
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total: 36.5 years
male: 35.9 years
female: 37.1 years (2009 est.)
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0.227% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
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8.99 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
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6.76 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
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0.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
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at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 5.35 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 185
male: 5.64 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.04 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 77.96 years
country comparison to the world: 52
male: 75.12 years
female: 81.05 years (2009 est.)
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1.14 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 220
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NA
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NA
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NA
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noun: Taiwan (singular and plural)
note: example - he or she is from Taiwan; they are from Taiwan
adjective: Taiwan
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Taiwanese (including Hakka) 84%, mainland Chinese 14%, indigenous 2%
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mixture of Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
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Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.1%
male: NA
female: NA (2003)
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NA
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Government ::Taiwan
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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Taiwan
local long form: none
local short form: T'ai-wan
former: Formosa
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multiparty democracy
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name: Taipei
geographic coordinates: 25 03 N, 121 30 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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includes main island of Taiwan plus smaller islands nearby and off coast of China's Fujian Province; Taiwan is divided into 18 counties (hsien, singular and plural), 5 municipalities (shih, singular and plural), and 2 special municipalities (chih-hsia-shih, singular and plural)
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; names for administrative divisions that follow are taken from the Taiwan Yearbook 2007 published by the Government Information Office in Taipei.
counties: Changhua, Chiayi [county], Hsinchu [county], Hualien, Kaohsiung [county], Kinmen, Lienchiang, Miaoli, Nantou, Penghu, Pingtung, Taichung [county], Tainan [county], Taipei [county], Taitung, Taoyuan, Yilan, and Yunlin
municipalities: Chiayi [city], Hsinchu [city], Keelung, Taichung [city], Tainan [city]
special municipalities: Kaohsiung [city], Taipei [city]
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Republic Day (Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution), 10 October (1911)
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adopted on 25 December 1946; effective 25 December 1947; amended in 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2005
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based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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20 years of age; universal
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chief of state: President MA Ying-jeou (since 20 May 2008); Vice President Vincent SIEW (since 20 May 2008)
head of government: Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) WU Den-yih (since 10 September 2009); Vice Premier (Vice President of Executive Yuan) Eric Liluan CHU (since 10 September 2009)
cabinet: Executive Yuan - (ministers appointed by president on recommendation of premier)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 22 March 2008 (next to be held in March 2012); premier appointed by the president; vice premiers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the premier
election results: MA Ying-jeou elected president; percent of vote - MA Ying-jeou 58.45%, Frank HSIEH 41.55%
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unicameral Legislative Yuan (113 seats - 73 district members elected by popular vote, 34 at-large members elected on basis of proportion of islandwide votes received by participating political parties, 6 elected by popular vote among aboriginal populations; to serve four-year terms); parties must receive 5% of vote to qualify for at-large seats
elections: Legislative Yuan - last held 12 January 2008 (next to be held in December 2011 or January 2012)
election results: Legislative Yuan - percent of vote by party - KMT 53.5%, DPP 38.2%, NPSU 2.4%, PFP 0.3%, others 1.6%, independents 4%; seats by party - KMT 81, DPP 27, NPSU 3, PFP 1, independent 1
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Judicial Yuan (justices appointed by the president with consent of the Legislative Yuan)
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Democratic Progressive Party or DPP [TSAI Ing-wen]; Kuomintang or KMT (Nationalist Party) [WU Po-hsiung], MA Ying-jeou elected in July 2009, takes office on 12 September 2009; Non-Partisan Solidarity Union or NPSU [LIN Pin-kuan]; People First Party or PFP [James SOONG]
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Organization for Taiwan Nation Building; World United Formosans for Independence
other: environmental groups; independence movement; various business groups
note: debate on Taiwan independence has become acceptable within the mainstream of domestic politics on Taiwan; political liberalization and the increased representation of opposition parties in Taiwan's legislature have opened public debate on the island's national identity; a broad public consensus has developed that the government enjoys popular sovereignty and - whatever the ultimate outcome regarding unification or independence - that Taiwan's people must have the deciding voice; public opinion polls consistently show a substantial majority of Taiwan people supports maintaining Taiwan's status quo for the foreseeable future; advocates of Taiwan independence oppose the stand that the island will eventually unify with mainland China; goals of the Taiwan independence movement include establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the UN; advocates of eventual unification predicate their goal on the democratic transformation of the mainland
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ADB, APEC, BCIE, ICC, IOC, ITUC, WCL, WFTU, WTO
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none; commercial and cultural relations with the people in the United States 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
representative: Jason C. YUAN
office: 4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20016
telephone: [1] 202 895-1800
Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices (branch offices): Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Houston, Honolulu, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle
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none; commercial and cultural relations with the people on 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
director: William A. STANTON
office: #7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road, Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan
telephone: [1] [886] (02) 2162-2000
FAX: [1] [886] (07) 238-7744
other offices: Kaohsiung
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red field with a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white sun with 12 triangular rays
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Economy ::Taiwan
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Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing government guidance of investment and foreign trade. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms have been privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world's largest. Recently opened cross-strait travel, transportation, and tourism links are likely to increase Taiwan and China's economic interdependence. In 2008 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. Growth fell to 0.1% in 2008 because of the global slowdown.
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$712 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
$711.3 billion (2007 est.)
$672.9 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$392.6 billion (2008 est.)
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0.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
5.7% (2007 est.)
4.8% (2006 est.)
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$31,100 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$31,100 (2007 est.)
$29,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 1.7%
industry: 25.1%
services: 73.2% (2008 est.)
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10.85 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
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agriculture: 5.1%
industry: 36.8%
services: 58% (2008 est.)
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4.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
3.9% (2007 est.)
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0.95% (2007 est.)
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lowest 10%: 6.7%
highest 10%: 41.1% (2002 est.)
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20.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
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revenues: $73.02 billion
expenditures: $77.96 billion (2008 est.)
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29.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
32.4% of GDP (2004 est.)
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3.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
1.8% (2007 est.)
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1.5% (January 2009)
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4.06% (2008 est.)
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$618 billion (November 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
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$677.8 billion (November 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 20
$654 billion (28 December 2007)
$654 billion (28 December 2007)
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rice, corn, vegetables, fruit, tea; pigs, poultry, beef, milk; fish
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electronics, petroleum refining, armaments, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, machinery, cement, food processing, vehicles, consumer products, pharmaceuticals
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-1.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
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225 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
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233 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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12,310 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
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959,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20
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303,500 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
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1.251 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
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2.38 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93
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360 million cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
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12.44 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 99
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12.08 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
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6.229 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
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$24.64 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$32.98 billion (2007 est.)
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$254.9 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$246.5 billion (2007 est.)
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electronics, flat panels, machinery, metals, textiles, plastics, chemicals, auto parts (2008)
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China 29.2%, US 12%, Hong Kong 9.8%, Japan 6.9%, Singapore 4.6% (2008 est.)
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$236.7 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
$216.1 billion (2007 est.)
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electronics, machinery, petroleum, precision instruments, organic chemicals, metals (2008)
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Japan 19.3%, China 13%, US 10.9%, Saudi Arabia 6.3%, South Korea 5.5% (2008 est.)
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$296.4 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
$275 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$93.09 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
$97.85 billion (31 December 2007)
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$102.3 billion (2008)
country comparison to the world: 34
$52.65 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$107.1 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$96.81 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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New Taiwan dollars (TWD) per US dollar - 31.53 (2008 est.), 32.84 (2007), 32.534 (2006), 31.71 (2005), 34.418 (2004)
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Communications ::Taiwan
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14.273 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 19
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25.412 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 33
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general assessment: provides telecommunications service for every business and private need
domestic: thoroughly modern; completely digitalized
international: country code - 886; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2
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AM 21, FM 143, shortwave 1 (2008)
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76 (5 television networks with 46 digital and 30 analog stations) (2007)
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.tw
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5.704 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 15
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15.143 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 25
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Transportation ::Taiwan
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42 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 101
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total: 38
over 3,047 m: 8
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 4 (2009)
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total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2009)
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4 (2009)
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gas 406 km (2008)
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total: 1,588 km
country comparison to the world: 81
standard gauge: 345 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,093 km 1.067-m gauge; 150 km .762-m gauge
note: the 150 km of .762 gauge track belongs primarily to Taiwan Sugar Corporation and Taiwan Forestry Bureau; some to other entities (2007)
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total: 40,262 km
country comparison to the world: 88
paved: 38,171 km (includes 976 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,091 km (2007)
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total: 102
country comparison to the world: 50
by type: bulk carrier 32, cargo 19, chemical tanker 1, container 24, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 14, refrigerated cargo 7, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Canada 2, France 1)
registered in other countries: 536 (Bolivia 1, Cambodia 1, Honduras 2, Hong Kong 11, Indonesia 2, Italy 13, Kiribati 5, Liberia 91, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 320, Philippines 1, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 72, Thailand 1, UK 11, unknown 3) (2008)
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Chilung (Keelung), Kaohsiung, Taichung
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Military ::Taiwan
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Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force, Coast Guard Administration, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces Command, Armed Forces Police Command
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19-35 years of age for male compulsory military service; service obligation 14 months (reducing to 1 year in 2009); women may enlist; women in Air Force service are restricted to noncombat roles; reserve obligation to age 30 (Army); the Ministry of Defense has announced plans to implement an incremental voluntary enlistment system beginning 2010, with 10% fewer conscripts each year thereafter, although nonvolunteers will still be required to perform alternative service or go through 3-4 months of military training (2009)
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males age 16-49: 6,283,134
females age 16-49: 6,098,599 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 5,106,730
females age 16-49: 5,008,563 (2009 est.)
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male: 165,738
female: 154,123 (2009 est.)
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2.2% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 75
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Transnational Issues ::Taiwan
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involved in complex dispute with China, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and possibly Brunei over the Spratly Islands; 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; Paracel Islands are occupied by China, but claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam; 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
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regional transit point for heroin, methamphetamine, and precursor chemicals; transshipment point for drugs to Japan; major problem with domestic consumption of methamphetamine and heroin; rising problems with use of ketamine and club drugs
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For additional information on government leaders in selected foreign countries, go to World Leaders.