Map of Taiwan ( Click the map to enlarge it! )
Taiwan also known, especially in the past, as Formosa (from Portuguese: Ilha Formosa, "Beautiful Island"), is an island situated in East Asia in the Western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. It comprises 99% of the territory of the Republic of China (ROC) since the 1950s; therefore, the term "Taiwan" is also a common name to refer to the Republic of China itself.
Separated from the Asian continent by the 160 km (99 mi) wide Taiwan Strait, the main island of the group is 394 km (245 mi) long and 144 kilometres (89 mi) wide. To the northeast are the main islands of Japan and the East China Sea, and the southern end of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan is directly to the east; the Batanes Islands of the Philippines lie to its south across the Bashi Channel.
The mountainous island spans the Tropic of Cancer and is covered by tropical and subtropical vegetation. Other minor islands and islets of the group include the Penghu Islands (Pescadores), Green Island, and Orchid Island, as well as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku islands), which have been controlled by Japan since the 1970s.
Taiwan was ceded to the Empire of Japan by the Qing Empire in the Treaty of Shimonoseki after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895. In 1945 Taiwan was freed from Japan as a result of World War II. Four years later the ROC lost mainland China in the Chinese Civil War to the Communist Party of China and resettled its government to Taiwan. Taiwan composes the vast majority of the ROC's territory since the 1950s, and this is one of multiple reasons that the ROC is commonly known as "Taiwan". The political status of Taiwan is disputed because it is claimed by the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949 by the communists on mainland China and considers itself the successor state to the ROC. Japan had originally acquired Taiwan from the Qing Empire in 1895 under Article 2 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. At the end of World War II, Japan renounced all claims to sovereignty over its former colonial possessions, including Taiwan and Penghu (Pescadores), but did not specify to whom Taiwan and Penghu should be assigned. This fact and subsequent handling of Taiwan's sovereignty by the Allies of World War II led to the complex and unresolved issues of the legal and political status of Taiwan.
Taiwan's rapid economic growth in the decades after World War II has transformed it into an industrialized developed country and one of the Four Asian Tigers. This economic rise is known as the Taiwan Miracle. It is categorized as an advanced economy by the IMF and as a high-income economy by the World Bank. Its advanced technology industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwanese companies manufacture a large portion of the world's consumer electronics, although most of them are now made in their factories in mainland China.