Major events in Taiwanese history from 10,000 BCE right down to the 21st century.

  • Circa 10,000 BCE・Sea levels rise at the end of the last glacial period (Ice Age). The land bridge between Taiwan and the Asian continent becomes submerged, forming the Formosa Strait and Taiwan becomes an island.
    • The resulting geographic isolation of Taiwan allows indigenous cultures to develop independently of continental influences.
  • Circa 4,000-3,000 BCE・The early neolithic Dapenkeng culture abruptly appears in the archaeological records of the island.
    • The people of this culture speak early forms of Austronesian languages and are the ancestors of the Taiwanese Aborigines.
    • Also around this period, some branches of Taiwan’s Austronesian cultures begin to expand very rapidly throughout maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
16th Century
  • 1542・Sailors from a passing Portuguese ship named the island Ilha Formosa.
  • 1592・Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi launches his first invasion of Korea. An ultimately unsuccessful side-expedition to subjugate Taiwan is also launched the following year.
    • This is the first time a foreign power attempted to subjugate Taiwan.
17th Century
  • 1609・Japan’s Tokugawa shogunate sends an exploratory mission, led by Shimabara feudal lord Arima Harunobu, to Taiwan.
  • 1616・The Tokugawa shogunate orders an invasion of Taiwan under the command of Nagasaki magistrate Murayama Tōan. The expedition sought to establish a Japanese trading post in Taiwan but ultimately ends in failure.
  • 1624・Dutch colonization of Taiwan begins with the occupation of Tayouan (today’s Anping District, Tainan City) in southwestern Taiwan. The Dutch construct Fort Zeelandia.
    • The Dutch became the first foreign power to successfully subjugate and administer any part of the island.
    • The colony forms a distinct governorate, with its own governor, under the overall direction of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).
    • Large numbers of Hoklo and Hakka labourers from China settle in the new Dutch colony.
  • 1626・Spanish colonists arrive from the Spanish East Indies (present-day the Philippines and the Marianas) in northern Taiwan and establish Fort San Salvador near the present-day port city of Keelung.
  • 1642・Fierce competition between Dutch and Spanish colonists results in Spanish expulsion from Taiwan.
  • 1653・The Dutch colony in Taiwan thrives as a trade link between China, Japan and European colonies in Southeast Asia.
  • 1661・Pirates in the region, led by Sino-Japanese warlord Koxinga, launch an invasion of Taiwan and besiege the Dutch stronghold of Fort Zeelandia.
    • After a nine-month siege, the Dutch governor surrenders control over Taiwan to Koxinga. Dutch colonists in Taiwan relocate to Batavia (present-day Jakarta, Indonesia).
  • 1662・After Koxinga’s death, his son and heir, Zhèng Jīng (Taiwanese: Tēnn King), reorganizes the territory into the Kingdom of Dōngníng, known to contemporary Europeans as the Kingdom of Formosa.
  • 1683・The Kingdom of Formosa is destroyed by the Manchu “Qing” Empire. Taiwan is annexed into the Manchu-Chinese realm.
    • For the first time in history, Taiwan becomes a part of a larger imperial state based in China.
  • 1684・Taiwan is organized as a prefecture under the jurisdiction of Fujian Province in China.
    • The imperial court in Beijing shows clear reluctance toward full annexation of Taiwan. The island is seen as lying outside traditional Chinese lands and its colonization and subjugation are expensive and time-consuming.
    • Taiwan is ultimately annexed in order to bring it under control due to its high frequency of anti-Manchu insurgencies.
18th Century
  • 1721・Zhū Yīguì (Taiwanese: Chu It-Kùi) Rebellion.
  • 1732・Aboriginal rebellion near central Taiwan’s Dajia River.
  • 1786・Lín Shuǎngwén (Taiwanese: Lîm Sóng-Bûn) Rebellion.
19th Century
  • 1867・The Rover Incident: The American vessel Rover is shipwrecked near present-day Kenting in southern Taiwan. American sailors who reach shore are massacred by Taiwan’s aboriginal tribesman.
    • The incident leads to an American military expedition against southern Taiwanese aboriginal tribes.
  • 1871・The Mudan Incident: 54 shipwrecked Ryukyuan sailors are massacred by natives from the Paiwan tribe. Ethnic Han settlers on the island manage to rescue 12 Ryukyuan sailors.
    • Japan intervenes on behalf of the Kingdom of Ryukyu (present-day Okinawa) and a military expedition is sent to Taiwan in retaliation. The Ryukyuan kingdom is later annexed by Japan in 1879.
  • 1884・The Battle of Tamsui (near today’s Taipei City): Rare French defeat during the Sino-French War (1884-1885) between the Manchu Empire in China and the French Third Republic.
  • 1887・Taiwan is promoted and declared a full province of the Manchu Empire (the island had been a prefecture of Fujian Province).
  • 1894・The First Sino-Japanese War breaks out between the ascendant Empire of Japan and the 250-year-old and rapidly declining Manchu Empire in China.
  • 1895・The Treaty of Shimonoseki is concluded between the Manchu Empire and the Empire of Japan. Taiwan becomes Japan’s first major overseas colony.
    • In May, the independent Republic of Formosa is declared in Taiwan in opposition to Japanese rule. Taiwan is administered by the republic until its destruction by Japanese forces in October.
20th Century
  • 1905・Taiwan’s economy achieves self-sufficiency and no longer requires Japanese financial subsidies.
  • 1907・The Běipǔ Uprising: First documented uprising against Japanese rule in Taiwan. The revolt is led by the Hakka and Saisiyat peoples of northwestern Taiwan.
  • 1928・Taihoku Imperial University (now the National Taiwan University) is established.
    • The university is one of nine Imperial Universities run directly by the government of the Empire of Japan.
    • Seven more in Japan and one more in Seoul in Korea.
  • 1930・The Musha (Wùshè) Uprising: A major aboriginal revolt by central Taiwan’s Seediq people against Japanese oppression. A traditional headhunting expedition is launched by aboriginal warriors. Over 130 Japanese officers and civilians killed and beheaded.
  • 1935・Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan holds an international expo to showcase the island’s rapid development and modernization under Japanese rule.
    • In the same year, the first Taiwanese-born representatives are elected to office in Taiwan’s colonial legislative assembly.
  • 1936・The Japanese government begins implementing “Japanization” (kōminka) principles in Taiwan’s governance.
    • The Japanization Movement: The Japanese language becomes mandatory in Taiwan’s education system. Taiwanese subjects encouraged to adopt Japanese names. Taiwanese soldiers begin to be drafted into Japan’s Imperial Army.
  • 1937・The Second Sino-Japanese War breaks out between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China, founded in 1912 after the fall of the Manchu Empire.
  • 1939・The Sino-Japanese War, together with the War in Europe and the Pacific War, become major theatres of conflict in the Second World War.
  • 1945 (April)・Amendments to Japanese election laws allow Taiwanese representation in the Imperial Diet of Japan.
  • 1945 (August)・The Empire of Japan surrenders to the Allied Powers, ending the Second World War. The Japanese empire is dismantled and Taiwan is claimed by the Republic of China.
  • 1947・February 28 (228) Incident: A large-scale uprising against the Chinese government is met with a bloody massacre of Taiwanese civilians by the Chinese army—the incident launches the modern Taiwanese independence movement.
  • 1949・The Chinese Communist Party founds the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The ousted government of the Republic of China (ROC) relocates to Taiwan in The Great Retreat.
    • Two million Chinese refugees fleeing the communist regime settle on the island, greatly transforming the dynamic in Taiwan’s already complex ethnic and linguistic landscape.
    • The ROC government introduces Sinicization programs across Taiwan to counteract the effects of Japanization. Mandarin Chinese culture is favoured over Taiwan’s long-established Hoklo, Hakka and indigenous heritage.
  • 1960-2000・Broad economic and political reforms.
    • Taiwan experiences an economic miracle and rapidly emerges as an advanced economy—dubbed one of the Four Asian Tigers (plus South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong)—economies that experienced comparable rapid growth.
      • Taiwan and South Korea develop leading technology and industrial sectors while Singapore and Hong Kong became major financial hubs.
    • Taiwan transitions into a stable democracy. The Taiwanization Movement and de-Sinicization gain momentum.
      • Taiwan’s centuries-old Hoklo-derived and Hakka-derived cultural heritage, as well as indigenous Austronesian/Formosan cultures, experience major revivals and widespread popular embrace.
      • Instead of the standardized norms of Tokyo, Beijing or elsewhere, Taiwanese authorities are free to emphasize, promote and support the island’s home-grown heritage.
      • In 1991, the ROC in Taiwan unofficially renounces its claims over PRC-controlled Chinese mainland—focuses on the development, governance and defence of Taiwan and surrounding island territories.
21st Century
  • 2005・The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law comes into effect.
    • The act recognizes the right of Taiwan’s indigenous nations to self-government and sets up autonomous jurisdictions for indigenous communities.
  • 2007・The Indigenous Traditional Cultural Expression Protection Act comes into effect.
    • The act charges Taiwan’s central government with the responsibility of protecting indigenous cultural heritage and expressions.
  • 2017・On 24 May, Taiwan’s Supreme Court rules that marriage discriminations based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional, granting constitutional protection to LGBT couples who wish to marry in Taiwan.
    • Reuters touts it as the first-ever such ruling in Asia and describes Taiwan as having “a reputation as a beacon of liberalism in the region.”
  • 2017・The Indigenous Languages Development Act is promulgated on June 14th.
    • Taiwan’s 16 officially recognized indigenous languages (42 dialects) are recognized as national languages.
    • National languages have full legal force in Taiwan. Official documents can henceforth be composed in indigenous languages.
    • The act safeguards indigenous persons’ rights to use their native tongues in official settings and seeks to preserve Taiwan’s diverse linguistic landscape.