Taiwan Festival

The Culture of Taiwan

People of Taiwan

The larger part of the island’s inhabitants are the descendants of immigrants from the various provinces of mainland China, but in particular from the southeastern coastal provinces of Fujian and Guangdong. In today’s Taiwan, However, distinctions between the different ethnic groups have become blurred as a result extensive intermarriage and universal use of the Mandarin Chinese language.

Taiwan’s people have also enthusiastically embraced western culture, while recent years have witnessed an infusion of new influences from Southeast Asia introduced by immigrants primarily from Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. This confluence of currents of humanity has helped create an open-hearted, forward-looking society that has assimilated elements of civilization from around the world in a distinctive manner.

According to official governmental statistics, the composite category of “Taiwanese people” is often reputed by many Taiwanese to include a significant population of at least four constituent ethnic groups: The Hoklo (70%), the Hakka (15%), Mainlander (13%), and Taiwanese aborigines (2%)


The Hoklo communities in Taiwan originated from male laborers from Fujian (hired by the Dutch), some of whom married into Lowland Taiwanese aborigine communities. They are often referring to those citizens who the government identifies as Aborigines and may not reflect actual identification or hybridity. There are fragmented populations of lowland Aborigines who still acknowledge their identity and heritage throughout Taiwan. Others have assimilated to a degree where their descendants speak Taiwanese and identify with the Hoklo majority, and it is possible to find families where the older members still identify themselves as lowland aborigine, while the rest of the family may identify as Hoklo. Among the Hoklo, the common idiom, “has Tangshan father, no Tangshan mother” (有唐山公、無唐山媽) refers how the Han people crossing the Taiwan Strait were mostly male, whereas their offspring would be through marriage with female Taiwanese aborigines. It is also called Min

                                            Acrobatic Performances                                             Palmar Puppet


The Taiwanese Hakka communities, although arriving to Taiwan from Western Guangdong and the mountains of Fujian, have also likely mixed through intermarriage with lowland Aborigines as well. Hakka family trees are known for identifying the male ancestors by their ethnic Hakka heritage while leaving out information on the identity of the female ancestors. Also, during the process of intermarriage and assimilation, many of the lowland Aborigines and their families adopted Hoklo and Hakka family names. Much of this happened in Taiwan prior to the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, so that by the time of the Japanese colonization, most of the population that the Japanese classified as “Chinese” Hoklo and “Chinese” Hakka were in truth already of mixed ancestry. It is also believed by many scholars that the Hakka of Taiwan are mainly the descendants of Hakka assimilated ethnic She people from the mountainous area between Fujian and Guangdong, with linguistic relations to Min nan speakers.

                                                         Hakka Folk Performance


The descendants of mainlanders settled first within the heart of large urban centers in Taiwan such as Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung. High numbers of government officials and civil servants who followed the KMT to Taiwan and occupied the positions of the colonial government moved into the official dormitories and residences built by the Japanese for civil servants. The ghettoization of mainlander communities exacerbated the divisions imagined by non-mainlander groups, and stymied cultural integration and assimilation into mainstream Taiwanese culture. Nationalization campaigns undertaken by the KMT established an official “culture”, which reflected the KMT government’s own preference for what it considered authentic Chinese culture. This excluded many of the local Taiwanese practices and local cultures, including the diverse cultures brought to Taiwan by the mainlanders from all parts of China. Unlike, the Hoklo and Hakka of Taiwan, who felt excluded by the new government, the mainlanders and their families supported the nationalists and embraced the official “culture” as their own, with “national culture” being taught in school. The mainlanders used their embrace of Nationalist culture to identify themselves as the authentic Chinese people of Taiwan.


Taiwanese aborigines or Aboriginal peoples are the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Their ancestors are believed to have been living on the islands for approximately 8,000 years before major Han Chinese immigration began in the 17th century. Taiwan’s Austronesian speakers were traditionally distributed over much of the island’s rugged central mountain range and concentrated in villages along the alluvial plains. Today, the bulk of the contemporary Taiwanese aborigine population resides in the mountains and the major cities. The cities of Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung are known for their aboriginal communities.
The aboriginal lived in tribes. The tribles include the Saisiyat, Thao, Tsou, Rukai, Paiwan, Kavalan, Atayai, Amis, Bunun, Puyuma, Truku and Yami. In the 1990s several groups of recognized indigenous tribes, which had traditionally viewed themselves as separate, united under the singular ethnonym ‘Aborigines’.
Their art took the form of beautiful houses and clothes that signified tribal authority. The houses were usually decorated with carved objects and utensils, and the clothes were beautifully woven and embroidered. Facial tattoo was also a common art form. The language and customs of the aborigines suggest a close resemblance to the Malays

                                                                Aborigines                                                        Aborigines Festival

New Residents or immigrants

This social-cultural group of people is typically known as “Taiwan’s new resident”, consists of mainly new residents, originally from other nations, who have either migrated to Taiwan or inter-married with a local Taiwanese.
In one-fourth of all marriages in Taiwan today, one partner will be from another country and one out of every twelve children is born to a family of mixed parentage. As Taiwan’s birthrate is among the lowest in the world, this contingent is playing an increasingly important role in changing Taiwan’s demographic makeup.
The majority of new residents originated from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippine, Europe, America etc.

                                                                        Taiwan’s new residents                                             Taiwan’s new residents

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