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History of Taipei

Understand some of the basic (but interesting) facts about Taipei's history

History of Taipei... here we go...

Taipei is a very young city as far as Asia goes. Really, the place you're visiting has only existed for at most 300 years, but even at that time it was only a few aboriginal settlements.

Nineteenth-century Taiwan was complicated to say the least, with Western missionaries increasing their influence and China's Qing Dynasty's first official incorporation of the island into the Middle Kingdom. The Qing weren't in any kind of shape to really do anything with Taiwan, though, and for many historians the move to take Taiwan was a last-ditch effort to justify the dynasty's capabilities.

Taipei history - The beginning

Taipei began its development as the city that you can recognize today via the Japanese, who took over Taiwan from 1895 to 1945 and made Taipei their capital. Though the Japanese that ruled Taiwan were notoriously harsh to the local people, many in Taipei still revere the Japanese occupation favorably as it established much of the infrastructure that the city has today.

The Chinese Civil War also influenced the history of Taipei City in Taiwan

After the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Powers in World War II, the country was required to surrender also any of its wartime colonies, Taiwan included. That was in 1945, and at that time, with the Chinese Civil War raging, the island began to be ruled by the Chinese Nationalist Party, otherwise known as the Kuomintang (KMT).

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KMT rule was headed by Chiang Kai-shek, the party's political and military leader. The Nationalist KMT lost the Chinese Civil War to Mao Zedong and the Communist Party in 1949, and fled to Taiwan to try to rebuild itself for a retaking of mainland China, which of course never happened.

The KMT Era in Taiwan

The KMT was a dictatorship with brutal tendencies, most famously in Taipei for the "228 Incident" in which the party slaughtered tens of thousands of members of an anti-government uprising. Still, the KMT is credited for many of the economic successes of today's Taiwan.

Following the death of Chiang Kai-shek in 1975, the KMT had a lot of difficulty in holding its exclusive power, giving way to democratization and alternative parties.

Today, Taipei is both the economic and political center of Taiwan, powered mostly by hi-tech industry. It no longer functions as a port, an important aspect of its early success; that responsibility has been given over to neighboring Keelung.

Learn more about the history of Taipei
as you travel in Taiwan

To explore more into the history of Taipei and Taiwan, check out the following spots:

  • 228 Peace Memorial Park and Museum
  • Taipei's famous National Palace Museum
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and Museum
Make sure to take a look at my Taipei Travel Guide eBook if you're planning a trip to Taiwan's beautiful capital city.