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Cultural history of Taiwan: Map


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A prehistoric monument in Taiwan built about 2800 years ago
The cultural history of Taiwan can be traced back to prehistoric Stone Age. Later the development of written languages made it easier to maintain traditions of the Taiwanese culture.

The recorded history of Taiwanese culture mainly stemmed from traditional Chinese culture, despite the influences from other foreign powers. Although the culture of modern Taiwan is significantly affected by Japanese and American culture, the values and traditions of the Taiwanese people are heavily based on Confucianist Han Chinese cultures.

Prehistoric cultures

Table of prehistoric cultures

× denotes nonexistence  o denotes existence
Culture Development status Sites
Pottery Iron metallurgy Basic agriculture Rice cultivation Yuanshan Site Chihshan Rock Site Botanical Garden Site
Hsientao culture × × × × × ×
Tapenkeng culture × ×
Yuanshan culture ×
Chihshan Rock culture × ×
Botanical Garden culture ×
Shihsanhang culture × ×

The cultures in Taiwan's New Stone Age (began ca. 5000 BCE) were all left by Austronesian people. However, there may be other settlers prior to the arrival of the Austronesian people.

In addition, the plains aborigine influenced the beliefs, music, and names, of places in Taiwan. These aboriginal tribes include Ketagalan, Kavalan, Taokas, and Babuza peoples. However, over the course of three centuries of Han Chinese migrations to Taiwan, the distinctive cultures gradually disappeared, creating an integrated cultural blend.

The 1620s saw a major turning point in Taiwan's cultural history due to the introduction of the Sinckan Manuscripts. The written language was brought to Taiwan by Dutch missionaries. The prehistory of Taiwan was brought to an end as a result.

European colonial culture

As a result of Taiwan's strategic position, many foreign powers were interested in establishing settlement in Taiwan. Taiwan was first introduced to European nations in approximately the mid-sixteenth century by Portuguese explorers, who called the island "Ilha Formosamarker," which means "Beautiful Island, and the neighboring islands "Pescadoresmarker," which means "Fishermen."

The Dutch East India Company invaded the Pescadores in 1622. After several battles with Mingmarker forces, the Dutch agreed to retreat to the island of Taiwanmarker, which was not part of the Ming territories. In 1624, the Dutch established a trading post in present-day Tainan Citymarker and built its political center at Fort Zeelandia. Due to the shortage of labor, the Dutch attracted Han migrants. As a result, the previous tribal society drastically changed.

The Dutch were not the only European settlers in Taiwan. In 1626, the Spaniards established settlements in northern Taiwan. Fort San Salvador was built in present-day Keelung. Later, they expanded their territory to present-day Yilan and Tamsuimarker, and built Fort Santo Domingo, which still exists today. Spanish missionaries converted many aborigines to Catholicism. However, the Dutch attacked Spanish settlements in northern Taiwan in 1642, drove out the Spaniards, and occupied their territories.


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