Taiwan is an island located 100 miles (160 km) off the southeast coast of China, opposite Fukien Province, astride the Tropic of Cancer halfway between Japan and the Philippines. Two-thirds of the island of 13,885 square miles (35,962 sq. km) is mountainous. Formerly known as Formosa (Portuguese for "beautiful island"), Taiwan (Chinese for "terraced bay") is governed by the Nationalist Chinese party (Kuomingtang) as the Republic of China. In its history, the island was occupied by the Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, and Japanese (1895-1945), reverting to China in 1945.
With a 1986 population of 19.5 million, it was the second most densely populated country in the world. Seventy percent of the population resided in the urban areas. Eighty-three percent of the population was Taiwanese, southern Chinese who immigrated to Taiwan in the early 17th century. Ten aboriginal tribes of Malayo-Polynesian background along with refugees from the Chinese mainland were minority groups. Mandarin Chinese was the official language, though the Taiwanese dialect is the mother tongue of the majority.
Economically, Taiwan is highly developed, ranking in 1986 among the six largest exporting countries in the world. Per capita gross national product surpassed $13,000 (US) by the year 2000. Since 1950 Taiwan has moved from agrarian land reform through labor-intensive industry to high technology industry. Infrastructure development projects have made Taiwan a country with modern and efficient transportation and telecommunication.
Buddhism, Taoism, and religious Confucianism along with popular folk religion are practiced by the people of Taiwan. Only three percent of the population was considered Christian in 1986. The Presbyterian Church of England began mission work in southern Taiwan in 1865 under James Maxwell, and in 1872 George MacKay from the Presbyterian Church of Canada began medical and evangelistic work in northern Taiwan. In 1986 the Presbyterian Church was the largest and oldest Taiwanese Christian church. Following World War II, numerous other mission groups entered Taiwan to establish churches.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) was invited by the Presbyterian Church to begin relief and medical work in Taiwan in 1948, and the General Conference Mennonite mission followed with church planting work in 1954. In 1986 there were 17 Mennonite congregations of the Fellowship of Mennonite Churches in Taiwan located in three major cities of Taiwan. In addition the Mennonite Christian Hospital was located on the east coast.
In 2009 the Fellowship of Mennonite Churches in Taiwan had 20 congregations and a total membership of 1,717. Churches were located in three major urban areas: Taipei and Taoyuan, Taichung, and Hualien.
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 183-187.
Mennonite World Conference. "Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches Worldwide, 2009: Asia & Pacific." 2010. Web. 28 October 2010..
Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 41
Sawatzky, Sheldon V. "The Gateway of Promise: A Study of the Taiwan Mennonite Church and the Factors Affecting Its Growth." MA thesis, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1970.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 871-872. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Sawatzky, Sheldon V. "Taiwan." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2010. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T357.html.
APA style: Sawatzky, Sheldon V. (October 2010). Taiwan. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T357.html.