People and Language

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.


LANGUALGE
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 Chinese.

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Information provided by Tourism Bureau, Rep. of China.

 

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