A wind lion statue stands tall in outlying Kinmen County as aguardian to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.( (Chin Hung-hao)
- Dutch and Spanish settlers established bases in Taiwan in the early 17th century.
- Around 1.2 million people relocated from China to
Taiwan along with the Republic of China (Taiwan)
government in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The ROC was founded in 1912 in China. At that time,
Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule as a result
of the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which the Qing
ceded Taiwan to Japan. The ROC government began
exercising jurisdiction over Taiwan in 1945 after Japan
surrendered at the end of World War II.
The ROC government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 while
fighting a civil war with the Chinese Communist Party.
Since then, the ROC has continued to exercise effective
jurisdiction over the main island of Taiwan and a
number of outlying islands, leaving Taiwan and China
each under the rule of a different government. The authorities in Beijing have never exercised sovereignty
over Taiwan or other islands administered by the ROC.
The following timeline focuses on Taiwan’s recorded
history dating from about 400 years ago, although it
has been home to Malayo-Polynesian peoples for
It is commonly believed that European sailors
passing Taiwan record the island’s name as Ilha
Formosa, or beautiful island.
Taiwan continues to experience visits by small
numbers of Chinese merchants, fishermen
The Dutch East India Company establishes
a base in southwestern Taiwan, initiating a
transformation in aboriginal grain production
practices and employing Chinese laborers to
work on its rice and sugar plantations.
Spanish adventurers establish bases in northern
Taiwan but are ousted by the Dutch in 1642.
Fleeing the Manchurian conquest of the Ming
dynasty (1368-1644), Ming loyalists under Zheng
Cheng-gong, or Koxinga, drive out the Dutch from
Taiwan and establish authority over the island.
Qing dynasty (1644-1912) forces take control of
Taiwan’s western and northern coastal areas.
Taiwan is declared a province of the Qing Empire.
Following defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War
(1894-1895), the Qing government signs the
Treaty of Shimonoseki, by which it cedes sovereignty
over Taiwan to Japan, which rules the
island until 1945.
Chinese revolutionaries overthrow the Qing
Empire and establish the ROC.
During World War II, ROC leader Chiang
Kai-shek meets with U.S. President Franklin
Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill in Cairo. After the conclusion of the
conference, the Cairo Declaration is released,
stating that “…Formosa [Taiwan], and the
Pescadores [the Penghu Islands], shall be
restored to the Republic of China…”
The ROC, U.K. and U.S. jointly issue the
Potsdam Declaration, calling for Japan’s unconditional
surrender and the carrying-out of the
After World War II, ROC government representatives
accept the surrender of Japanese forces in
Taiwan. The Chief Executive of Taiwan Province Chen Yi sends a memorandum to the
Japanese governor-general of Taiwan, stating
that “As the Chief Executive of Taiwan Province
of the ROC, …I restore all legal territory, people,
administration, political, economic, and cultural
facilities and assets of Taiwan [including the
The ROC Constitution is promulgated Jan. 1 and is
scheduled to take effect Dec. 25. In March and the
following months, ROC troops dispatched from
China suppress a large-scale uprising of Taiwan
residents sparked by the February 28 Incident.
As full-scale civil war rages in China between
the Kuomintang-led ROC government and CCP,
the Temporary Provisions Effective During the
Period of National Mobilization for Suppression
of the Communist Rebellion are enacted,
overriding the ROC Constitution and greatly
expanding presidential powers. This begins the
period of White Terror that lasts until 1991 when
the Temporary Provisions are lifted.
The ROC government relocates to Taiwan, followed
by 1.2 million people from China.
Oct. 25 sees the Battle of Kuningtou on Kinmen,
in which the ROC armed forces defeat the CCP
on the northwestern coast of the island.
Martial law is declared in Taiwan and continues
to be in force until 1987.
Following the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty
with Japan signed by 48 Allied nations on behalf
of the United Nations, the Treaty of Peace is signed
between the ROC and Japan at Taipei Guest
House, formally ending the state of war between
the two parties. It is recognized that under Article 2
of the San Francisco Treaty, Japan has renounced
all right, title, and claim to Taiwan (Formosa) and
Penghu (the Pescadores) as well as the Spratly
Islands and the Paracel Islands. All treaties, conventions
and agreements concluded before Dec. 9,
1941, between China and Japan become null and
void as a consequence of the war.
The ROC-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty is signed in
Aug. 23 sees the start of an artillery duel
between the ROC garrison on Kinmen and
Chinese forces that lasts more than 40 days.
The first Export Processing Zone is established
in Kaohsiung City, southern Taiwan. The creation
of such zones propels Taiwan toward becoming
a developed nation, setting a paradigm for
other countries to follow.
The nine-year compulsory education system
is launched at a time when fewer than nine
countries globally have compulsory education
systems of this length or more.
On Oct. 25, the United Nations General
Assembly passes U.N. Resolution 2758
recognizing the People’s Republic of China
(PRC) as the only legitimate representative of
China to the global body. The ROC withdraws
from the U.N.
Democracy activists demonstrating in Kaohsiung
are arrested and imprisoned following
what is known as the Kaohsiung Incident,
which eventually leads to the formation and
development of the Democratic Progressive Party
Martial law, in effect since 1949, ends and bans
on the formation of new political parties and
news publications are lifted. Democratization
goes into high gear.
Cross-strait people-to-people exchanges begin.
The Temporary Provisions Effective During the
Period of National Mobilization for Suppression
of the Communist Rebellion are abolished.
A complete re-election of all Congressional
representatives, including members of the
Legislature and National Assembly, takes place
from 1991 to 1992, giving the people of Taiwan
full representation. From 1991 through 2005,
the ROC Constitution undergoes seven rounds
of revision. Taiwan becomes a member of the Asia-Pacific
from across the Taiwan Strait meet for the
first time in Hong Kong, and via subsequent
communication and negotiations arrive
at various joint acknowledgements and
The National Health Insurance program begins.
The ROC holds its first-ever direct presidential
election, with the KMT’s Lee Teng-hui and
running mate Lien Chan garnering 54 percent of
Chen Shui-bian and Annette Hsiu-lien Lu of
the DPP are elected president and vice
president, ending the KMT’s more than 50-year
rule and marking the first transfer of ROC
government executive power in Taiwan between
Taiwan becomes a member of the World Trade
The Legislative Yuan passes the Referendum
Act, providing a legal basis for citizens
to vote directly on issues of local or
The first national referendum is held in
conjunction with the third direct presidential
election, in which Chen and Lu are re-elected
with a slight majority.
The Legislative Yuan passes a constitutional
amendment package, halving the number
of its seats from 225 to 113 and introducing
the single-district, two-votes system for
Ma Ying-jeou and Vincent C. Siew of the KMT
are elected president and vice president of
the ROC, garnering 58 percent of the vote
and marking the second transfer of ROC
government executive power in Taiwan between
Taiwan attends the World Health Assembly as
an observer, marking its first participation in an
activity of the U.N. since its withdrawal in 1971.
President Ma signs the instruments of ratification
of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the International Covenant
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The ROC inks the Cross-Straits Economic
Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with
China to institutionalize economic and trade
relations across the Taiwan Strait.
The centennial of the ROC is celebrated
Incumbent Ma Ying-jeou and his new running mate
Wu Den-yih, representing the KMT, win the election
for president and vice president with 51.6 percent of
Taiwan signs an agreement on economic
cooperation with New Zealand and an agreement
on economic partnership with Singapore.
Taiwan attends the 38th session of the
International Civil Aviation Organization
Assembly as the guest of the council’s president.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi
holds a formal meeting with China’s Taiwan
Affairs Office director Zhang Zhijun in Nanjing
in February, marking the first official contact
between the heads of the respective government
agencies responsible for cross-strait relations.
Sunflower Movement protesters occupy the
Legislature to oppose the passing of the Cross-
Strait Service Trade Agreement, preventing
A record 11,130 candidates are elected
nationwide for nine categories of local
government representatives in what are known
as the “nine-in-one” local elections.
President Ma and Chinese leader Xi Jinping
meet in Singapore in November, marking the
first top-level meeting between the two sides in
Taiwan signs the WTO’s Trade Facilitation
Agreement and submits its instrument of
acceptance to the organization.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen and academic
Chen Chien-jen are elected president and vice
president of the ROC.
The DPP gains its first legislative majority after
securing 68 of the 113 seats.
President Tsai Ing-wen officially apologizes
on behalf of the government to the nation’s
indigenous peoples for the pain and
mistreatment they endured for centuries.
The Indigenous Languages Development Act
is enacted to preserve and promote the native
tongues of Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized
Taiwan hosts the Taipei 2017 Summer Universiade.
Formosat-5, the nation’s first homegrown
ultra-high resolution Earth observation satellite,
Taiwan’s Transitional Justice Commission is
inaugurated May 31. President Tsai issues an
apology to victims of political persecution
during the country’s White Terror period from
1949 to 1991 following the commission’s
decision to expunge their criminal records.
A special law legalizing same-sex marriage is
passed, making Taiwan the first country in Asia
to allow LGBT unions.
Tsai Ing-wen and running mate Lai Ching-te of
the ruling DPP party win the 2020 presidential
election with 57.1 percent of the vote. The DPP
retains its legislative majority.