Nicknamed "Formosa" (the beautiful) by Portuguese navigators in 1590, the island was occupied in 1622 by the Dutch, followed by the Chinese in 1662. It was then taken over by the Manchurian empire before being handed by Beijing to Japan in 1895 and christened Taiwan.
It returned to China following the Second World War in 1945.
In 1949, when the communists took over power in Beijing, the nationalist government led by Chian Kai Shek sought refuge in Taiwan.
In 1971, it is obliged to surrender its UN seat to the Peoples' Republic of China, as the organisation recognised Beijing only.
1996 : First democratic preseidential elections, sparking heated tensions with China.
In September 1999, an earthquake kills over 2,000 people.
In the "White Book" published on 21 February 2000, Beijing threatened for the first time to officially use force if Taiwan continued to maintain its stance of not joining mainland China. 27 countries entertain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
In March 2000, Taiwanese voters elected a new president, Chen Shui-Bian, the front-runner of the Democratic Progress Party (DPP), who planned to officially declare the independence of the island. Bringing an end to 55 years of nationalist power, this election is viewed negatively by Beijing, which still sees Taiwan as a recalcitrant province.
In 2001, legislative elections confirmed the success of the DPP and the democratic drive.
In 2002, Taiwan joined the WTO, a couple of weeks after China.
20 March 2004: Chen Shui-bian is re-elected after surviving an assassination attempt. He plays the card of peacemaking with Beijing by committing to refrain from promoting the independence of the island.
7 February: Chinese New Year
21 February: Feast of Lanterns
28 February: Peace commemoration
29 March: Youth Day
5 April: Cleaning of tombs, Ching Ming festival
28 April: birthday of Matzu, one of the most popular divinities.
1 May. labour Day
8 June: Dragon ship festival
5 August: Ghost festival
6-7 October: Post Mid-Autumn festival
10 October: National Day
25 October: Retrocession Day
31 October: Birthday of Chiang Kai-Shek