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Our People – ethnic and multicultural

With its population over 23 million Taiwan is among the most densely populated countries in the world today (second to Bangladesh). Most of its inhabitants live in the cities and villages of the plains and foothills, largely on the west side of the island.

About 500,000 (a little under 2%), are Indigenous people, the island's original inhabitants, who divide into 15 ethnic tribes (recognized) and are racially and linguistically related to the Malayo-Polynesian peoples. Some scientists have discovered that they may have inhabited Taiwan for 15,000 to 20,000 years. In addition most western scholars believe the Austronesian language family originated on Taiwan and the people then spread, migrated to other Pacific countries, and even as far as Madagascar, around 8,000 years ago.

The largest segment of the population, often called “Taiwanese,” makes up about 19 million or 85% (about 73% is Amoy [Ho-lo] speaking, 12% is Hakka). They are descendants of settlers from southeast China who began arriving in Taiwan about four centuries ago. They migrated from the provinces of Fujian and Guang-Dong to escape hardship and to seek freedom and happiness in Taiwan. At no time did these settlers come to Taiwan with the idea of contributing to the territorial expansion of China.