- There are 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes in Taiwan.
- The nation is home to nearly 500,000 new immigrants, most of whom hail from 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. 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 China and Southeast Asia, mostly through marriage. Currently, the number of new immigrants is nearly 500,000.
Students from Yehliu Elementary School take a swimming class on Taiwan’s northern coast.(Chuang Kung-ju)
There is growing appreciation in Taiwan for the cultural legacies of the 16 officially recognized Austronesian-speaking tribes, which constitute a little more than 2 percent of the population. 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.