When Portuguese sailors sighted an uncharted island off the coast of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1542, they noted it in their maps as 'Ilha Formosa' (beautiful island). The name evolved into simply 'Formosa', which remained in use among English speakers until the 20th century. The modern name 'Taiwan' is derived from a 17th century Dutch East India Company, who established a commercial post on a coastal sandbar called 'Tayouan'.

Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, is a country in East Asia comprised of 166 Islands, including Taiwan (formerly Formosa), Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. It is located southeast of the People's Republic of China's, south of Japan, and north of the Philippines. Its capital city is Taipei.

Most Taiwanese people are of the ethnic group Han, but their dialects and customs differ depending on what area of the country they live. Taiwan has three large Han groups. Those living in the Southern Fujianese area stem from China's Fujian Province. The Hakka Hans are largely descended from North Han Chinese people who moved to the country from China. A third group known as Mainlanders arrived from Mainland China after 1948.

Taiwan has a population of over 23 million, the vast majority of whom live in the lowlands near the western coast of the island. Only 2.38% of the country's population is made up of Taiwanese indigenous peoples, whose ancestors lived on the islands before the arrival of the Hans.

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