Taiwan, at a glance
Location: In Southeast Asia, Taiwan borders the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea just east of mainland China.
Size and name: The island is about the size of Maryland and Delaware combined. Officially known as the Republic of China.
Official language: Mandarin Chinese
Religion: Mixture of Buddhist and Taoist (93%)
Taiwan’s flag has a dark blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner that bears a white sun with 12 rays. Blue signifies liberty, justice and democracy; red stands for fraternity, sacrifice and nationalism; white represents equality, frankness and the people’s livelihood. The 12 triangular rays are those of the months and the 12 traditional Chinese hours.
Population: 23.4 million
Literacy rate: 98.5%
Government: Multi-party democracy and claims itself as an independent state from China with its own constitution, president and military.
Controversy: The People’s Republic of China claims the Taiwanese government is illegitimate and does not recognize it as an independent state.
In the news: President-elect Trump ruffled diplomatic protocol in December when he accepted a phone call from Taiwan’s president, Tsai Inv-wen, that was reported to have been arranged by former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole.
Economy: Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing government guidance on investment and foreign trade. Its heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to fluctuations in world demand.
Headwinds: Closer economic links with the mainland bring opportunities for Taiwan’s economy but also pose challenges as political differences remain unresolved and China’s economic growth is slowing.
Culture: Sincerity and honesty are all-important in Taiwan. “Humility is a virtue, and a breach of trust, since trust is a vital factor in business relationships, will not be taken lightly,” says the business book “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands.”
Etiquette: Emphasize the compatibility of your two firms, your personal amicability and your desire to work with your counterpart, says the business etiquette book. “Profits are important, but harmonious human interaction precedes them. Avoid high-pressure tactics.”
GDP (official exchange rate): $523.6 billion
Franchise association: Taiwan Chain Stores and Franchise Association
Currency: Taiwan dollar (conversion rate at press time: 1 TWD equals .031 USD )
Ease of doing business ranking by World Bank: 11
Sources: U.S. Commercial Service, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, “Kiss, Bow, and Shake Hands.”