THE FRIENDLY PEOPLE OF TAIWAN
Taiwan has a population of 22 million. The
larger part of the island's inhabitants are the descendants of
immigrants from the various provinces of mainland China, but in
particular from the southeastern coastal provinces of Fujian and
Guangdong. Because the different ethnic groups have fairly well
integrated, differences that originally existed between people from
different provinces have gradually disappeared.
Some 360,000 indigenous people, the original inhabitants of Taiwan,
still live here; they can be distinguished into 10 different
tribes, namely the Saisiyat, the Atayal, the Amis, the Bunun, the
Puyuma, the Rukai, the Paiwan, the Tao, the Sao and the Zou.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese (Guoyu), but
because many Taiwanese are of southern Fujianese descent, Min-nan (the
Southern Min dialect, or Holo) is also widely spoken. The smaller
groups of Hakka people and aborigines have also preserved their own
languages. Many elderly people can also speak some Japanese, as they
were subjected to Japanese education before Taiwan was returned to
Chinese rule in 1945 after the Japanese occupation which lasted for
half a century.
The most popular foreign language in Taiwan is English, which is part
of the regular school curriculum. However, to be on the safe side,
when taking a taxi in Taiwan it is advisable to prepare a note with
your place of destination written in Chinese to show the taxi driver.
Taiwan is also the most ideal place to learn Chinese. There are
numerous language schools that offer Chinese classes, ranging from
hourly-based classes to recognized university programs. Many
foreigners from Europe and the United States, as well as other areas,
come to Taiwan to spend their holidays, or one or two years, studying