The history of Taiwan is one of endless change, and the continuous arrival of new cultures bringing new traditions, ideas and philosophies.

There has been human habitation on the island for the past 10,000 years. The earliest aboriginal tribes most likely originated from other parts of Asia, such as the Philippines. Taiwan has always historically been on the periphery of the great Chinese Empire and in the 15th Century the first immigrants arrived from Fujian in China.

They were followed by a Northern Chinese people called the Hakka, who had fed persecution in their home counties. These two groups were to spread and create a new Taiwanese society.


In 1517 Portuguese sailors landed and named the island “Formosa” meaning Beautiful- and they were followed by the Dutch, who came in force and invaded in 1624.

They retained a colony on Formosa until 1661 when they were expelled by the armies of Ming general Cheng Chengkung. The island then became a Manchu territory in 1682, and then a province of Fujian called “Taiwan”and in 1887 a Chinese province.


Taiwan was returned to Chinese control at the end of the War and was re-occupied by the Kuomintang (KMT) the United Ruling Party of China. In 1949 the coming of communism saw a split between the KMT under the leadership of Chiang Kaishek and the new People’s Republic of China.

Chiang Kaishek and the KMT moved to Taiwan, with their own flag and constitution, creating modern Taiwan in the process.

For more information on Taiwan’s history click here Museums in Taiwan(links to page within website: Museums in Taiwan)