Country Focus Data: Taiwan
April 01, 1996
by Mindy Dake
An island country located in eastern Asia off the southeastern coast of China, Taiwan's capital is Taipei.
Demography: Population 22.5 million (1995); Mandarin Chinese official language; mixture of Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist religions (93%).
Geography: Total land area 32,260 square km; 1,448 km coastline; tropical and marine climate; eastern two-thirds mostly mountainous, west flat to rolling plains.
Government: Multi-party democratic. Chief of state is President Lee Teng-hui, head of government is Premier Lien Chan. The country's first direct presidential election was scheduled for March 23, 1996.
Official agricultural agencies: Council of Agriculture.
Economy: Capitalist. Between 1952 and 1993, Taiwan enjoyed average annual growth of 9%. During that period, the economy shifted from an agricultural base to a manufacturing and services base; in 1994, agriculture accounted for about 4% of gross domestic product, compared with 35% in 1952. In 1994, agricultural workers accounted for 10.9% of Taiwan's total employment, but this figure is expected to drop to 7% to 8% in 2000.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$12,070 (1994); real G.D.P. growth rate (1994), 6%.
Currency: The New Taiwan dollar. Feb. 16, 1996 exchange rate: 27.48 New Taiwan dollars per U.S. dollar.
Foreign trade: Agricultural exports, U.S.$4.8 billion, including pork (U.S.$1.3 billion) and seafood (U.S.$1.2 billion). Agricultural imports (excluding forestry), U.S.$6.8 billion, with grain at U.S.$1.1 billion and soybeans at U.S.$650 million. All figures 1994.
Major crops: Rice, sugarcane, peanuts, fruits and vegetables.
Rice: Rice is Taiwan's traditional crop and food staple. But changing dietary patterns associated with income growth have reduced the importance of rice relative to wheat and high protein foods.
Per capita rice consumption has declined from 140 kilograms in the mid-1970s to an estimated 75 kg in 1994. By 2004, rice consumption is expected to decline to 61 kg.
Wheat: Consumption of wheat-based foods is increasing rapidly and should continue to expand. Per capita wheat consumption advanced by 8 kg in the past 20 years, to 42 kg, and is expected to advance to 52 kg by 2004.
About 40% of wheat is used for noodles, 25% for bread, 25% for other related products and 10% for gluten.
Maize: Maize accounted for about 95% of all feed grain consumption in 1994-95 and forms the bulk of Taiwan's grain imports. In 1994-95, more than 80% of total grain imported was maize.
Transportation: Railroads, 4,600 km; 20,041 km of highways, with 17,095 km paved; major grain handling ports are Taichung and Kaohsiung.