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PEOPLE

DO YOU KNOW?

  • There are 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes in Taiwan.
  • The nation is home to more than 520,000 new immigrants, most of whom hail from mainland China and Southeast Asia.
While Taiwan may be described as a predominantly Han Chinese society, with more than 95 percent of the population claiming Han ancestry, its heritage is actually much more complex. The successive waves of Chinese immigrants that began arriving in the 17th century belonged to a variety of subgroups with mutually unintelligible languages and different customs. Today in Taiwan, however, distinctions between them have become blurred as a result of extensive intermarriage and the universal use of Mandarin.
An early morning exercise group at Xinzhuang Sports Park in New Taipei City
An early morning exercise group at Xinzhuang Sports Park in New Taipei City (Chen Mei-ling)
Taiwan has been a melting pot not only of diverse Han subgroups, but also of indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples and immigrants from all over the world. Recent years, for example, have seen an influx of new arrivals from mainland China and Southeast Asia, mostly through cross-cultural marriages. Currently, the number of new immigrants is over 520,000.
There is growing appreciation in Taiwan for the cultural legacies of the 16 officially recognized Austronesianspeaking subgroups, which constitute a little more than 2 percent of the population. Both public and private organizations are making efforts to revitalize their languages and cultures, as illustrated by the launch of Taiwan Indigenous Television and the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act.
This convergence and interplay of currents of humanity in Taiwan have helped transform it into an open-hearted, forward-looking society that has incorporated diverse elements of civilization from around the world in a distinctive and harmonious manner.
Snapshot
Taiwan has been a melting pot not only of diverse Han subgroups, but also of indigenous Malayo-Polynesian peoples and immigrants from all over the world.
Photo by Harry Huang