'Formosa' means 'beautiful and it was the name given to this island off the Chinese coast in Asia.  10,000 year ago, Taiwan was joined to the mainland until sea levels  rose about s ago Recent research suggests that Taiwanese aborigines were living on the island 8,000 years ago. They are of Austronesian origin  and have linguistic and genetic ties to other Austronesian ethnic groups, which populations from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar and Oceania.   For example, 10 out out of the approximately 26 known languages of the Taiwanese aborigines  are now extinct, and five more are endangered.These languages are of unique historical significance, since most historical linguists considered Taiwan to be the original homeland of the Austronesian language family.  The bulk of contemporary Taiwanese aborigines now live on Lán Yǔ island, in the mountains to the East and in cities and face discrimination in regard of education, employment and income. The Austronesian Cultural Festival in Taitung City is one means by which tribe members promote aboriginal culture. small businesses and ecotourism industries have the goal of achieving increased economic self-reliance and preserving their culture.
After an unsuccessful attempt in the 13th C,  Han people from China settled on Taiwan in 1622 . The Dutch East India Tea Company  established the trading post of Fort Zelandia (now Anping). In 1662, Koxinga , expelled the Dutch and established the Kingdom of Tungning.  
Centralized government policies designed to foster language shift and cultural assimilation, as well as continued contact with the colonizers through trade, intermarriage and other intercultural processes, have resulted in varying degrees of loss of cultural identity for the aborigines. the first Han Chinese polity on the island  launch raided on the southeast coast of mainland China until it was defeated and annexed by The Qing dynasty of China . By the time Taiwan was ceded to Japan 1895,  as a result of Qing's defeat in the Sino-Japanese war, the majority of Taiwan's inhabitants were Han Chinese either by ancestry or by assimilation. 14,000 Taiwanese people died during uprising against the colonial powers. Japanese colonial rule  industralized the country by extending the railroads and other transportation networks, and building an extensive sanitation system. They also established a formal education system and ended the practice of headhunting.  During World War II, tens of thousands of Taiwanese served in the Japanese military. Also during this time, over 2,000 women were forced into sexual slavery for Imperial Japanese troops, now euphemistically called Comfort Women.

After the Wuchang uprising of 1912, the Chinese Qing empire had ended on the mainland and the Republic of China was established and in 1945, it gained control of Taiwan. 309,000 Japanese settlers were repatriated to Japan. During the Chinese civil war , the Communist Party of China under Chairman Mao took full control of mainland and founded the People's Republic of China in 1949. while the defeated Chiang Kai-Shek evacuated his government to Taiwan and made Taipei the temporary capital of the Republic of China. Some 2 million people, consisting mainly of soldiers, members of the ruling Kuomintang and intellectual and business elites, were evacuated from mainland China to Taiwan at that time, adding to the earlier population of approximately six million. In addition, the ROC government took to Taipei many national treasures and much of China's gold reserves and foreign currency reserves. It claimed to be the legitimate government of all of China and represented China at the UN until 1971 before it was expelled but its  jurisdiction was  limited to Taiwan and its surrounding islands. Martial law was declared between 1949 and 1987 to quell the opposition. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the Republic of China transitioned from a military dictatorship into a one-party state. Though the ROC renounced in 1992 the conquest of PRC-controlled territories as a national goal. The political status of Taiwan is uncertain:  the PRC continues to assert the One China policy , in which it is sole legal government of "China" and that Taiwan is a province of China . As a result, the ROC is not recognised as a sovereign state by most countries and is not a member of the United Nations.   The PRC has threatened the use of military force as a response to any formal declaration by Taiwan of national independence.   Since the election of president Ma Ying-jeou, the diplomatic and military tensions with the PRC have not been reduced. The Republic of China participates in most international forums and organizations under the name Chinese Taipei due to diplomatic pressure from the People's Republic of China.  For instance, it is the name under which it has Olympic games since 1984  and its name as an observer at the UN world Health organization. The ROC is typically barred from using its national anthem and national flag in international events due to PRC pressure. The quick industrialization and rapid growth of Taiwan during the latter half of the 20th century has been called the Taiwan Miracle. Large parts of the population are atheists ,  Buddhists or Taoists.